Archive for April 27th, 2009

This blog is a part of a blog series called “The Heart of a Worshipper” series, or HWS. My prayer is that you will be blessed and transformed as you grow in your own worship of the King of Kings.

“Heart, Soul, Mind & Strength” Worship, Part 1

What is worship? That’s a question that I continually return to in my own study of the subject. If we were to survey the congregation asking for a definition of worship, I’m confident we’d get many different answers. A previous blog in this series focused on Eugene Peterson’s definition, in which he encourages us to “interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God.” Peterson spurs me on to deny myself in pursuit of God (and that’s a good thing!).

Another favorite definition of mine comes from the excellent book Real Worship by Warren Wiersbe. Wiersbe’s definition begins much as God’s first commandment does and continues through to the end result of worship:

“Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, and body – to what God is and says and does. This response has its mystical side in subjective experience and it’s practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed will. Worship is a loving response that’s balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better. And what should be the result of all this? Transformation.”
     (page 26, Real Worship)

In eighty words, Wiersbe:

  1. Defines worship (first sentence);
  2. Explains what it looks like (second sentence);
  3. Addresses a major area of confusion in worship – loving the Lord vs. fearing Him (third sentence);
  4. And defines what the result is (fourth and fifth sentences).

He has my vote for being able to pack a lot of meaning into eighty words! Let’s look at each of these points.

What is Worship?
Wiersbe’s definition of worship mirrors Jesus’ exhortation to us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Look at the similarities:

Mark 12:30

Wiersbe’s Definition of Worship

Love the Lord your God with
all your…
Worship is the believer’s response
of all their…
     Heart      Emotions
     Soul      Will
     Mind      Mind
     Strength      Body

Jesus introduced us to wholehearted devotion to the Lord. He said “Give it all you’ve got; don’t hold anything back.”

Jesus wants our heart – our emotions. But not just our emotions because He knows that we can be quite fickle. He also wants our will – our commitment to follow Him even when we don’t feel like it. He doesn’t expect us to follow Him blindly, He’s give us minds with which to evaluate His claims and the claims of others. He wants us to study Him and His Words, to engage our minds. Yet He doesn’t want only our love and our commitment to follow Him and our engaged mind seeking Him, He also wants our bodies – He wants us engaged in acts of service.

Wiersbe goes on to explain how these four elements (heart, soul, mind and strength or emotions, will, mind and body) interact. He points out that true worship is both experiential (mystical) and objective (practical).

A question I frequently ask myself is this: “Does my worship reflect Mark 12:30? Am I worshipping God with my whole heart (or my emotions), with my whole soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength?” Sometimes I answer that question too easily – a quick “yes” or “of course” – because I don’t really evaluate the question, I just answer it. To avoid this automatic response I sometimes ask the question a bit differently: “What am I doing that reveals that I am worshipping God with my whole heart? What evidence is there that I am worshipping God with all my emotions? How am I worshipping God with my mind? In what ways am I worshipping God with all my strength?”

Think about it for awhile…tomorrow I’ll blog “Part 2”  of “Heart, Soul, Mind & Strength” Worship. See you then!

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