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Israel's Hypocritical Worship

(Amos 4:2-5; 5:14,15,20-24)

Lesson 6 -- third quarter 2001
July 8, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Just how sincere is my worship?

My dictionary defines sincere this way: "1. Not feigned or affected; true. 2. Presenting no false appearance; not hypocritical; honest." That sounds like sincerity is the opposite of a deliberate decision to be misleading. That certainly fits the question above, but it isn't what I mean to ask. So I'll ask my question a little differently -- Just how intelligent is my worship?

Intelligent?! Yes. But never mind the dictionary definition of the term. I simply want to know if our worship is with understanding. Let's focus on our singing. Do we know the meanings of the words we sing? Are we conscious of the statements we make while we sing? I suspect that we know so many of the songs and hymns so well that the words float out our lips without registering in our minds. That sounds like vain (empty) repetition to me.

Maybe we could solve the problem of unintelligent singing by simply not singing. That would do the trick, alright. But that solution is intellectually and spiritually lazy. The more sensible, discerning solution is to address the real problem: an unfocused heart.

When I catch myself singing without thinking about what I'm singing, I shouldn't stop singing. No! I should start thinking . . . about what I'm singing. Instead of taking our tongue out of gear, we should get our heart in gear. We need to discipline our minds and spirits to focus on the object of our worship (God Himself) as well as on the vehicle of our worship (the words of our songs).

I propose we stop singing empty songs. Instead let's sing songs full of meaning, spirit, understanding and even feeling. That doesn't mean changing hymnals or singing songs we've never sung before. That means singing the same old songs . . . from our hearts and not simply our lips.

Here is a group exercise for you. What was the last song your congregation sang together? Recite (or read) some of the significant phrases from the song. What do they mean to you right now? Is that what they meant to you when you sang them last, or did they mean anything at all that time?

Crossing the t's and dotting the i's.

In our handwritten communications, we need to major on some minor little details. At least, they seem minor when you do them. But they can become quite major if they get ignored or misused.

When a writer does not cross his t's and dot his i's, the reader may find it difficult to distinguish between the writer's l's, t's and i's. And if the writer starts dotting and crossing the wrong letters . . . . Then you can really appreciate the major importance of such little details!

Of course it would never do for the writer to major on dots and crosses to the point of leaving other penmanship details to fend for themselves. And what if he decided that dots and crosses are so important that they are all on which he needs to concentrate!

When we just cross and dot as we ought, crossing and dotting is not burdensome. It's normal. But when we balk at doing it and decide to skip it, then we have succeeded in doing something very counterproductive. We have taken something normal, and made it burdensome. We have taken something minor, and made it major.

Many people do that with the dots and crosses of Christian living. Tragic!

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