In his book More Than a Feeling: Worship That Pleases God, Jimmy Jividen makes an impressive statement: “As a man worships,” he declares, “so is he,” (page 21). Of course his declaration is drawn from Proverbs 23:7, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV). Both Jividen and Solomon draw from the biblical understanding that human actions are drawn deeply from the well of human thinking, human motivations.
“Set your mind on things that are above,” Paul urges us, “not on things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:2, ESV). “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander,” Jesus declares, “These are what defile a person …” (Matthew 15:19,20).
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely …” Paul tells us, “think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
We do not act in a way we do not think, at least not for long. If I am merely pretending to love the Lord in worship, sooner or later my thinking will be betrayed by my actions.
Jividen’s wonderful observation reminds us that we can tell a great deal about a person by the way he worships. Theatrical sighs when the song is not our favorite? Eye rolls when a preacher makes a declaration we think we already knew? Chattering to a neighbor rather than being locked into the matter at hand? That says far more about you, the worshiper, than the ones leading in worship.
In worship, where is your heart (that is, your attention, priorities, thinking)? We might be sentimental while watching a rerun of Little House on the Prairie. Sweet sentimentality, however, is an emotion far too shallow for worship. Worship, properly done, mines the human being’s deepest emotions and commitments. If it does not, well, then, it wasn’t worship, now was it?
But this Sunday, don’t look around you to see how others worship. Look within. And ask the hard question: What does my participation in worship say about who I really am? I assure you, the one you worship already knows. Do you?
(This article written in honor of Jimmy Jividen, graduated to glory, 1929-2014).