All of heaven and earth cannot help but worship. It is the instinctive response and gut-reaction to beholding the glory of God. And some day, in heaven, worship will be our natural impulse because it is woven into the atmosphere of eternity. But while we are on earth, we have a unique opportunity to offer something we won’t be able to offer in heaven—the deliberate choice to worship, especially from a place of sacrifice.
We tend to think of sacrifice as it relates to giving up something like position, money or comfort in order to take a step of faith toward something we feel God is calling us to do. But more simply, on a day-to-day basis, we often lay down things such as weariness, discouragement, frustration and other difficult emotions in order to live out our worship. This, too, is a precious sacrifice to God—when we choose to believe His truth over the way we are feeling.
Our resolve to worship can be quite costly sometimes. It is not always easy to shift our focus from the present reality to eternal reality. It is not always easy to hold on to God’s character and promises when it seems like He is not acting the way you thought He would. It is not always easy to declare His goodness when your heart is hurting. It is not always easy to demonstrate your love for Him in the face of mockery and contempt from others.
But sacrificial worship is precious to God. I believe He treasures it deeply. In the story of the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume who poured it over Jesus, He responds by saying, “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Matt. 26:10). And when you worship from a place of sacrifice, He sees your offering as beautiful thing too.
Recently, a dear friend’s son was killed in a car accident. It is a pain no parent should have to walk through the loss of a child. At his funeral, the church choir my friend is part of was invited to sing. And I watched this mama stand up, even in her grief, and worship with all of her heart, declaring that her God is more than enough. I believe I had a glimpse of God’s heart, weeping with her in her sorrow, but tenderly treasuring the broken heart that chose to trust Him in the midst of unspeakable pain.
In many ways, the life of David is the hallmark example for sacrificial worship in scripture. In 2 Samuel 24, he famously resolved to not give something to God that did not cost him anything (see verse 24). Throughout his life, his response was to turn to God’s goodness and mercy—in his grief, in his sin, in his frustration. Even though he was king, he laid down his dignity and pride repeatedly for the sake of something far more desirable—relationship with God. It is no wonder that his story and his many songs and poems in the book of Psalms are among the first things we think of when we talk about worship.
Sacrificial worship is powerful and beautiful because it makes the following declarations:
I trust that God is for me.
I am confident that nothing will separate me from His love.
My life is His, so I trust Him with its outcome.
I believe He sees things I cannot see, so I will rest in His promise to work it all out for my good.
My faith is not dependent on the nature of my circumstances, but on the nature of my God.
Sometimes we forget that God knows what it is to be human. We know Jesus came to earth as a man, but our minds don’t always grasp the entirety of what that means. He knows grief, frustration, loneliness, disappointment, and betrayal. He knows what it is to be totally dependent on the will of the Father. He knows what it is to lay Himself down for the sake of something greater. He knows what it is to have limited perspective from where we are.
And because He knows, He also recognizes the beauty of extravagant love that chooses Him. It means everything to Him. It’s what He died and rose again for. He had no guarantee of whether or not we would choose Him, even after He endured the cross, so when we do, it brings a joy we cannot fathom to His heart.
Our love for God and our worship are unique and powerful because we get to make a choice. Wherever you are, whatever you are walking through, know that God treasures your trust and devotion. Every time you turn toward Him when you could have hardened your heart and turned away, you are giving Him a precious gift. The sacrifice you are making does not go unnoticed; you are laying things down every single day for something of greatest worth, and He will not fail you.