Worship a Matter of Motive
Let us think for a moment of the rudimentary element in worship, leaving religion aside for the moment. Worship goes on altogether apart from any religious system or form. It is there in the very constitution. What is worship in its elementary principle? Well, it is just the element of motive in life - that is, worthwhileness to live, it being worth while to live. The very lowest, the very saddest and most tragic state in life, to be saying, "There is nothing now for which to live, I have nothing to live for." You could not get lower than that. Life has been given up; life holds nothing worth while. That worthwhileness is the principle of worship. It is a motive for living, something for which to live, and that is present in all the world, except in those tragic realms where people have already given up life because they have no more interest and no more motive. I say that is the saddest and the most terrible thing that can ever come to anyone. Except where that obtains, worship is just this, that there is something to live for, that there is something worth while in being alive. That is the principle of worship.
Now you carry that into a much larger and higher realm. What is there to live for? What is the greatest thing for which to live? And there you bring worship into its right realm, and worship becomes this - 'Why, the greatest thing to justify life and to give meaning and value and worthwhileness to life is the Lord!' Not this world, as something to be worshiped, nor its kingdoms, not its princes or its god; but the Lord being worthy,the most worthwhile object in life, having all the worthwhileness of our very being and existence: so that He holds the full place, the central place; the Lord is the object always in view.
Worship is not going to some ecclesiastical building week by week, perhaps once or twice, to attend what is called Divine worship. That is not worship. That may be just empty form; that may be patronizing God. It may be anything short of the reality. Worship is a life thing, not a weekly thing; certainly not once a quarter at the 'quarterly communion,' or on the great feast days of the Church - Easter, Christmas and so on. Worship is this, that life is for the Lord. Every moment, every hour, every day, every week and every year - it is all for the Lord. That is worship. Our first thought in the morning is the Lord, and our last thought at night is the Lord; and although there are many occupations of mind and hand during the hours of the day, there is something behind the one who has been redeemed unto God that is always reaching out to Him.
The lives of such are the prayer of worship. They are not always putting it into language and phrases, and they are not always on their knees, and they are not always in meetings; but from behind them, so to speak, there is that which is reaching out to the Lord - they long for the Lord. It is true of them, as it was true of those in Israel in the days of Jerusalem's glory, though they were far from Jerusalem, that they long for Jerusalem. 'Oh, to be there, the place of the altar, the place of God, the place of worship!' Their longings were there, and away they could never be satisfied. They expressed this true principle. When in Babylon they were taunted, this remnant whose heart was in Jerusalem - taunted by the Babylonians: "Sing us one of the songs of Zion" (Psalm 137:3). "Sing us one of your folk-songs of Jerusalem' 'Upon the willows ... we hanged up our harps ... how shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" (verse 2, 4). Their longing was to be there. They were drawn. We should understand that in a spiritual way. Our Jerusalem is no focal point on this earth, but there ought to be that about us which is always out to the Lord; which asks: 'How much more of the Lord can there be in our lives?'
If you read this book of Nehemiah in the light of that, it will be entirely revolutionized for you, marvelously illuminated. Nehemiah begins with this tremendous yearning for the lord, away there in Babylon. He comes to Jerusalem and takes in the situation and deplores that this is not to the honor of the Lord, and he weeps and he prays and he sets to work and he draws others in, and he is not at rest until this thing is finished at all costs - a testimony to the Lord raised up in fullness, in completeness. It is all a spirit of worship; and the people came in, of whose work we have yet to speak, they had a mind to work, they were of a willing spirit; but, you see, it was the spirit of worship. They, in their own way, were fulfilling what Paul says in his letter to the Romans: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1). They were giving their bodies to this work, and it was spiritual worship in motive. Worship, then, springs out of a motive.
(continued with # 12)