Costs of Worship

By John A. White
Contributing Writer
June 14, 2022

Read more from John A. White
by John White

Have you ever sat through a worship service and suddenly realized that your mind was a million miles away. Maybe you’ve came to worship angry, saddened or so excited about something else. Sometimes I find myself coming with very high expectations, even with personal needs, with the hope of feeling God’s embrace but I don’t find it in my worship times. While these are not the norm, they can happen from time to time yet our spirit still craves an encounter with God. Fortunately, God wants us to experience a rich and rewarding relationship with Him through worship. However, I think that sometimes we short circuit God’s desires by not paying the cost of worship. Let’s consider David’s heart reveal in 2 Sam 24.

2SA 24:18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." 19 So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.

2SA 24:21 Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?"
"To buy your threshing floor," David answered, "so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped."

2SA 24:22 Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 O king, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the LORD your God accept you."

2SA 24:24 But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

The context of this passage is that David sinned against the Lord by counting the fighting men in Israel. Therefore the Lord brought judgment on Israel which killed about 70000 Israeli men. David’s took the census because he was concerned about a foreign invasion. David repents and asks Gad (his prophet) what he should do to make atonement for his sin. We can see at least 4 sacrificial commitments that David paid in order to worship God.

Worship is a sacrifice of personal resources. According to 1 Chron 21:25, David paid about $70,000 in today’s currency for the sight, oxen and all the things needed to build the altar and to offer the sacrifice. We know today that giving is part of our worship for “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:10). Further, if you lead worship, you are very well acquainted with cost of worship; the cost of equipment, music rights, lessons as well as others can run up big bills fast. These financial sacrifices contribute to richness of our worship.

Worship involves a sacrifice of our heart’s affections. David had strayed from fidelity with God by numbering Israel. The plague that broke out against Israel was a result of David’s sin. David had to repent and make atonement. It is interesting that the census was never completed according to verse 1 Chron 21:6 yet God judged David for what was in his heart not for what he accomplished. We must make loving Jesus preeminent in our worship. Mark 8:34-37 says that we are to deny ourselves the affections of our hearts in this life.

MK 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

We are worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven only when we allow Jesus to sit on the throne of our heart. All other affections must be subservient to have a relationship with Jesus.
Worship demands a sacrifice of our thought diversity. Notice that after Gad had told David, to go build an altar at Araunah’s threshing floor, that this purpose became David's single focus. Think of all the people that surround the President when he is in public. All those people have certain agendas and they hope they can get the President’s ear long enough to persuade him to support their cause. While judgment was breaking out in Israel because of David’s sin and the Assyrian army was mounting, not to mention other concerns, David might have been distracted from all sides. Yet he remained solely focused on restoring his relationship with God through this worship.

I enjoy mountain biking. My favorite trails to ride are called “single tracks.” They are usually less than 18 inches wide. We have some local trails that are considered expert trails which are rough, usually steep, and have an embankment of rocks on one side and a drop-off on the other side. Any mistake will cause you to crash into the embankment or cause you to fall 5 to 10 feet off the edge of the trail. There is a mountain bike motto for such situations. It is: “you go where you look.” My friends kid me because as I descend these trails, I constantly recite out loud “you go where you look… you go where you look.” Isn’t the that the principle the author of Hebrews point at in Heb 12; that "you go where you look?"

HEB 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…

Worship demands a sacrifice of our comfort. This is where I struggle most. I like being comfortable and there seems to be something contradictory about being uncomfortable yet thriving in worship. But this is what happened with David. It is important to see that Gad instructs David to worship where the Jebusites lived which would be at Mount Moriah (just north of Jerusalem) rather than that at His royal house (in the southern end of Jerusalem). These were a little less than a mile apart. Additionally, David built the alter and made the sacrifice himself although he, as king, could have had someone else do it while he rested. I think that when we are comfortable, we tend to become spiritually dull.

Let me explain that. When we are willing sacrifice our spiritual comfort, we become Job like who was committed to praising God no matter what physical affliction he suffered “Though he slay me, yet will I praise him” (Job 2:9). When we make the commitment to magnifying God in our lives like John the Baptist when he said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (Jn 3:30) we sacrifice our spirit’s desire for self-identificaiton. We sacrifice our spiritual comfort. Lastly we might be called to sacrifice an biblical or theoligical intellectualism in which we pride ourselves. When things don’t go the way you expect, do you still worship God? Solomon says that everything is vanity and admonishes us to “fear God and keep His commands” (Ecc 12:8 & 13). Aren’t these the works of worship?

There are many costs of worship, we’ve touched on only four. Anything that keeps us from expressing our affections and reverence to God are likely to become the cost of our worship. We are to cast down vein imaginations that exalt themselves up against the knowledge of God. When such things are internal, they usually represent a personal investments we have already made to uphold it that value in our heart and minds. Sometimes it is a rationalization that we cannot conform to God’s high standards. Sometimes it is a pride in who we are, what we’ve accomplished, what we know or what we own. Sometimes we are just lazy and ignore the prod of discomfort. Whatever the case, God deserves better than our best. Let’s continue to learn how to pay the cost or praising and worshipping God. He deserves all praise, all glory, all honor and all power! Praise the Lord

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