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The Cost of Worship

By: Beth Lyda (From: Volume 2 - Issue 1)

The word “worship” brings to mind many images. It could be Christians gathered together in church, singing praises to the Lord, and clapping their hands to the beat of a song. Maybe you can see a believer standing with their hands raised toward heaven or quietly praying in their pew. All of these are wonderful examples of worship, but have you ever thought about the cost of true worship? Worship that goes beyond the norm? Let’s take a look at a few examples from the Bible.


Scripture refers to Abraham as God’s friend. How did he worship the Lord? God had fulfilled His promise to Abraham by blessing him and his wife, Sarah, with a long awaited son, Isaac. In Genesis 22:1-19, we find the account of Abraham’s faith being tested. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his precious son. The interesting thing about this story is that we don’t see Abraham begging God to change His mind. Instead, Abraham worshipped the Lord by moving in obedience and trust. How could he possibly do this? Hebrews 11:17-19 tells us “17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son], 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Abraham’s faith proved correct, and God honored his obedience. He was pleased with Abraham’s worship and provided a ram for the sacrifice.


Job was a wealthy man of integrity who greatly pleased the Lord. In the midst of his prosperity, God allowed Satan to test Job. After losing his children and his property, we find Job doing something that must have been intensely painful. He worshipped the Lord. Job 1:20-21 says, “20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In the midst of his grief, Job did not curse his Maker, but rather worshipped Him. God greatly blessed Job when the testing came to an end. Job 42:12-17 says, “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. 13 He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Keren-happuch. 15 And in all the land were no women found [so] fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. 16 After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, [even] four generations. 17 So Job died, [being] old and full of days.”

Mary of Bethany

In the New Testament, we find a very beautiful example of worship in the actions of Mary of Bethany. Mary was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She was also a friend of Jesus. John 12:1-3 tells us “Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.”

While Martha was serving and Lazarus was at the table eating with Jesus, Mary took the opportunity to worship the Lord. Scripture tells us that she anointed Jesus’ feet with spikenard. This costly oil was taken from the root of the nard plant that grew in India. We learn from the accounts of Matthew (Chapter 26) and Mark (Chapter 14) that the spikenard was stored in an alabaster flask. Alabaster was an expensive, high-quality grade of marble imported from Egypt. The oil itself was worth more than three hundred denarii, which equated to almost a year’s wages. This may have been the most precious thing that Mary owned, yet she poured it out on the Lord. John goes on to tell us that Mary wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair. It is my understanding that during this point in time, it was expected that women have their heads covered. For Mary to expose her hair in such a way would have been shameful, yet she did it anyway. She didn’t care what anyone else thought of her. She only wanted to worship the Lord. John says that “…the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” I like to think of that as saying that the house was filled with the fragrance of her praise; the extravagant richness of her worship of the Master.

Have we ever worshipped the Lord like Mary did? Have we poured everything out at the feet of Jesus? Have we worshipped Him in the midst of terrible loss, like Job did? Or been willing to give up our most treasured possession, like Abraham? To truly worship, we must be willing to surrender totally. Our dreams, ambitions, family, everything. As I write, I realize how terribly short I fall of this. I try so desperately to cling to some shred of perceived control. I’m sure that many of you do, too. Surrender is hard. It doesn’t come naturally to us. Trust is difficult, especially when the storms of life are raging all around us. May the Lord help us to hunger and thirst after Him like never before, so that we may truly surrender in worship to Him. It may take a lifetime, but it will be worth it!


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