["Worship" is the way we respond to what we think someone is worth.]
A young man stepped into a florist shop to get his girl a corsage for the high school banquet. His eyes roamed between the affordable daisies and the lavish orchids in the display case. He weighed his affections against his poverty. He was hoping to have some money left for his bike.
The florist helped him decide. "Well, son," he asked after a while, "how much is she worth to you?"
As the lad walked out with an orchid, he could only wonder what had happened.
How Much Is God Worth?
How much is God worth to you? The question is relevant, because in the three angels' messages of Revelation 14:6-12 the final issue in the countdown of the great controversy is one of worship, whether we worship God and the Lamb or worship the beast. And "worship" is our response to what we think someone is worth.
In Revelation 4 and 5 we look through an open door at Cosmic Control, God's throne in the heavenly sanctuary. And what do we hear? We hear songs, marvelous songs, happy songs. Angels by the thousand million join the elders and living creatures and sing another song, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" (ch. 5:12).
Worship Is Joyful Praise.
So how are we to worship God and the Lamb? First, by joyfully praising Them, giving Them thanks for who They are and what They've done for what They're worth.
God knows that when we praise Him for what He's worth, wonderful things happen to us. "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh 8:10).
In the last days of time we'll need all the strength we can find to resist the pressures of the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and the beast worshipers. Remembering joyfully that God made us and Jesus died for us will give us the faith we'll need to go through anything.
"In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Praising God, joyfully giving thanks, is a custom, a way of life, a habit if you please that we ought to be observing now. Now, today, every day, when confronted with life's ordinary tribulations we ought to be in training for the last days.
When the bills are too high, the boss too demanding, our spouse or parents seemingly unbearable, should we not remember that the God who made everything is still alive and that Jesus, who lives for us (Heb 7:25), once died for us? Shouldn't we enjoy the privilege of remembering that God cares about us (1 Peter 5:7)? Shouldn't we enjoy the happiness of applying Heaven's power and love to this very moment and need?
Worship Is More than Praise
This is worship, responding with joyful praise to what we think about God and the Lamb. And it's good for us to do it; for the "joy of the Lord is your strength."
So worship is joyful praise. But it is also something else; much else.
According to a well-known story, a Christian missionary, walking beside the Ganges one morning years ago, passed a Hindu mother sitting crosslegged near the river bank, cradling a baby girl in her arms and rocking back and forth. A handsome little boy played nearby.
As the missionary drew close, he noticed that the woman was in distress. Her baby was dying. Hinduism teaches that we live many lifetimes on earth, one lifetime after another. The woman feared that some sin, committed either in her own previous existence or in that of the child's, had angered the gods and brought on the disease.
The missionary tried to comfort her, but she didn't know the Christian's God and couldn't understand.
Toward evening the missionary returned along the same path, the mother of the morning momentarily forgotten. He was startled to see her in the same place, in the same posture, still holding the baby girl and rocking back and forth. She was more weary now and there was another difference. The little boy was gone.
In his mind the missionary guessed what had taken place. Unwilling to believe it, he greeted the woman and asked about her son.
"I offered him to the Ganges as a sacrifice to my gods," she replied without looking up.
So it was true! The missionary gasped and in his horror blurted out, "But mother, your baby girl is about to die and girls don't count for much in India. If you felt you had to sacrifice a child, why didn't you give her to the Ganges instead?"
For a moment the anguished woman fixed her eyes on the Christian. "Sir," she said scornfully, "my gods are worthy of my best."
Surely the Christian God is worthy of our best. Surely the Lamb is worth everything to us. Far from expecting us to offer our children in human sacrifice, He sacrificed Himself in their behalf!
To know Him is to love him. To love Him is to devote our all to Him
Worship Is Loving Obedience.
Said Jesus, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). When we love someone with all our hearts, we want to please him or her, make any sacrifice requested, do anything we're asked.
Jesus asks us to keep His commandments. The Godworshipers in Revelation keep the commandments.
What do the commandments say to us? They say to "love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39). Not to "bear false witness" (Ex 20:16). Not to lie to people or gossip about them. Not to mislead them in anyway that might do them harm. To remember that God created everyone and Jesus died for everyone, and so we ought to treat everyone honestly.
Not to "commit adultery" (Ex 20:14). That is, not to engage in sexual activity with anyone outside of marriage or even to think about doing so (see Matt 6:28). To remember that God made our spouses and died for them and wants us to be true to them and care for them genuinely.
Not to "covet" (Ex 20:17). This means that in an age of crass materialism we are not to be greedy but should make sure we always have something to share with the less fortunate; for God created and Jesus died for people who live in slums just as much as for the wealthiest of us.
The commandments also say to "love the Lord your God with all your heart" (Matt 22:37), and not to "take the name of the Lord your God in vain" (Ex 20:7). How unfitting it is when we're irritated to demand that the God of love "damn" someone!
But not to take God's name in vain also means not to claim to be one of His followers without acting like one. How often Christians, by the way they behave, lead people to dislike our God!
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy" (Ex 20:8). This is what the heavenly choirs praise God for. "Worthy art thou, our Lord and God.. for thou didst create all things" (Rev4:ll).
This is what the first angel's message urges us to do: "Worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water" (ch. 14:7). The first angel, who has himself sung the song a million times in the heavenly choirs, invites us to join in the happy song with the other angels and the elders and the living creatures.
The words of the first angel's invitation come right out of the Sabbath commandment, adapted a bit, like most of Revelation's quotations of the Old Testament.
God's Sabbath "according to the commandment" is the seventh day (see Luke 23:56) and is to be kept "holy."
The seventh-day Sabbath is a day of joyful remembrance of God's creative love and of Christ's redeeming love. It is a day for singing with the angels of Revelation 4 and 5. It is a day to renew our strength for the week ahead and for the time of trouble that lies ahead.
"If you love me, keep my commandments."
The great issue in the countdown of the great controversy is worship. Will we worship the beast, or will we worship God and the Lamb?
Worship is more than praise; it is also obedience to God's loving will. Worship is our response to what we think someone is worth.
Isn't our God worth our very best?
Daisies are pretty; but how much is God worth to you?
Adapted from God Cares, 2:394-399 by the author.