Article VII, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 7)

In our last post we read through a synopsis of the 1971 screen play, which was released as a movie by Paramount Pictures, entitled Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Willy Wonka 1

As we wrapped up the abridged version of the film, we began to see how mankind has become so preoccupied with selfish wants and desires that we end up treating God like some great, big, cosmic “candy man.” We all desire His sweet blessings, but most of us are not willing to join in on the selfless, bitter sufferings that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, calls us to endure.

In this article we will begin to look at the problem humanity has with being so very self serving, and we will reveal God’s remedy for overcoming this deadly disease. So as we begin, let’s consider one of the areas where symptoms of our selfish nature are most evident — the realm of advertising.

Most of us have seen, or heard, an advertisement that told us just how “special” and “important” we are. Flattery certainly can increase a business’ bottom line, especially when they seem to value our self worth. See if you recognize any of these famous slogans:

“Be All You Can Be” — U.S. Army, “Have It Your Way” — Burger King, “You Deserve A Break Today” — McDonald’s, “You Can” — Cannon, “Everything We Do Is Driven By You” — Ford Motor Company, “The Power To Be Your Best” — Apple Computers

Then there are the advertisements that appeal to our sense of entitlement:

“Be The First To Know” — CNN, “Two For Me, None For You!” — Twix (Mars, Inc.), “Nobody Better Lay A Finger On My Butterfinger” — Nestle’s Butterfinger, “Obey Your Thirst” — Sprite (Coca-Cola Co.), “This Bud’s For You” — Budweiser, “Think What We Can Do For You” — Bank of America, “Where Do You Want To Go Today?” — Microsoft, “Yours Is Here” — Dell Computers, “I Am What I Am” — Reebok, “I Love What You Do For Me” — Toyota, “It’s Everywhere You Want To Be” — Visa, “Because I’m Worth It” — L’Oreal

Selfishness 1 Selfishness is certainly a human trait, and placing Christ or others first unquestionably isn’t. And it’s not that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves — No — it’s when we over indulge in it that self servitude becomes deadly.

Our obsession with being selfish doesn’t just appear in commercial enticements, either, it appears in all areas of our lives. Above all other human traits, selfishness is mankind’s dominant characteristic. Think back over the previous six subjects discussed in this series. At the root of all of these topics is humanity’s selfishness.

What was the reason, from Article One, for people craving after money? Monetary wealth helps to ensure that our three most natural, and essential, needs are met on a regular basis — clothing, food, and shelter. When these “creature comforts” are not met regularly, then our happiness flees. Stress enters our lives and we lose our contentment. As we cease to thrive, our minds and bodies react in a variety of ways. Sometimes such struggles cause illness and disease to enter into our bodies. This natural desire for self-preservation, can open the door to selfishness.

In Article Two, it was our desire to be in control — to have power over our lives and our destinies — that also revealed another form of selfishness. Then there is our seeking to satisfy our appetite for personal pleasure, the topic of Article Three; also another form of selfishness. Even the subjects from Articles Four (religion), Five (philosophy), and Six (knowledge) reveal some form of humanity’s selfish nature.

When religion is practiced for the purpose of regulating and manipulating humanity, then the abuse of power being displayed becomes the act of sinful selfishness. God doesn’t long for our faith to be about legalistic rituals and traditions. God desires to experience a real and loving relationship with mankind. I’ll repeat this again, from Article Four, Jesus didn’t create you to be religious. Christ didn’t suffer and die for a pious philosophy. God’s son created you, lived as you, died for you, and conquered death — for you. True Christianity is not about religion; not at all. It’s about knowing and being known by the Creator of heaven and earth, Yahweh — the Lord, and savior, Jesus Christ.

The philosophies of the world are also steeped in selfish ideologies. Focusing on any thought process that pushes humanity to embrace who they are, just as they are, and working towards self improvement only if the individual deems it necessary. The whole idea of needing divine intervention, or giving God praise for human accomplishments, or acknowledging that there is a providential Creator in charge of the whole of creation, is rejected in lieu of mankind’s supposed ability to correct and right his/her own wrongs. This way of thinking leads into our topic from Article Six — knowledge.

Knowledge 3 Knowledge about the physical, or the mental, or even the spiritual, can be selfish in nature when it exists without understanding (Proverbs 18:1). God promises to grant all of humanity wisdom, if we will seek it and ask God for it (James 1:5). When God’s wisdom is given, the person who receives it enjoys real knowledge that is coupled with genuine understanding (Proverbs 2:6, 9:10; Isaiah 11:12; Colossians 1:9). If you possess knowledge that prevents God from ruling over your life, then you are holding knowledge that lacks understanding, and that is dangerous. It’s dangerous because knowledge that exists outside of God’s wisdom is self serving (Proverbs 18:1). And when we are self serving, then we become destructive to ourselves and all of creation (James 3:14-16).

Life is not about any one individual. It’s not about God and any one individual. Life is meant to be a community. A community made up of people fulfilling God’s divine purpose, will, and plan. A populous where humanity serves God, as He has commanded, and each other before we serve ourselves. Life is not about selfishness. No, life is about sacrificing ourselves in the service of God for others (Psalm 1:1-6, 119:36; Matthew 20:25-28; Philippians 2:3-4).

While leading mass at the Capital Mall, in Washington D.C. back in October of 1979, Pope John Paul II made this statement:

“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.”

Godly wisdom from a godly man, but I’d like to take his statement one step further and say that the great danger for humanity, as a whole, is in when people close their hearts to God’s purpose, will, and plan, and become self serving.

In our series on worship, known as The Joshua Project, Article Four discussed how serving God, and others, before we serve ourselves can bring about true joy in our lives. The following is an excerpt from that post:

Joy 2 “Joy is not a temporal emotion, but an actual attribution of God’s character — a part of His being; a ‘fruit’ of His Spirit, according to Galatians chapter five, verse twenty-two . . . to understand fully what joy means, and to correctly apply it to our everyday life and worship, we will have to dissect the word . . . find what lies at its core. To do this we will literally take the word ‘joy’ and examine it letter by letter. When we are done, the acrostic we end up with will be a simple and applicable tool with which you can allow God to bring real joy to you daily.

The first meaning we can find at the core of real joy is in the letter ‘J.’ And that is true faith in the Lord, God Jehovah via a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ . . . we must recognize that sin has removed us from God’s glory (this is our current ‘fallen state’) and then realize that we need to be restored to the center and purpose of Jehovah (Isaiah 59:1-20) . . . We can’t experience true worship if we can’t exist in God’s presence.

We must also realize that we do not deserve Jehovah’s grace, but deserve death. ‘For the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23a). Everything in life costs us something; nothing is free . . . Life costs us, male and female alike, something of each other in order to conceive a new life (child). The creation of the human race cost God, as well. Life cost Him, in the beginning, a piece of Himself — the breath of life and His image or spirit (Genesis 1:26-27). Life also cost Him the loss of our companionship when we sinned in the garden, as sin ushered in death, and death costs us our own lives as payment and prevents us from living with God eternally (again, see Romans 6:23a). But it’s because the Lord God, Jehovah, loved life — human life — so very much, it ultimately cost Him the life of His only Son, Jesus Christ.

God longs to see mankind return to Himself and He knew humanity would never be able to do so on its own. Thus the reason God chose to pay our debt to sin (the wages of sin is death) by allowing His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die (John 3:16). Christ’s blood paid our debt (Hebrews 9:22b), and His sacrifice became God’s free gift of eternal life to all of mankind (Romans 6:23b) . . . To fully trust in Christ we must know that just as life is costly so, too, are our relationships. A relationship with Jesus Christ costs us submission. I know the word submission in today’s equal rights world is yet another negative term, but if we will understand it and accept submission for what it really is, a willful act (choice) of servile flattery (serving/acting out of love and respect) then we will experience the eternal joy that God intended us to have in our lives.

Service 1 Let’s ponder the definition of submission once more from the above paragraph: ‘a willful act (choice) of servile flattery (serving/acting out of love and respect).’ If you are married, try applying this idea to your relationship. If you do, your relationships will improve beyond your wildest dreams; your life will bloom and grow beyond what you ever imagined possible, and your relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son, will fill you with a joy that can only come from being centered on Him.

The second meaning we can find at the core of real joy comes from the letter “O” and is in two parts: be obedient in unity and serve others. The first, being obedient in unity (meaning that we should make every effort to be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ), is the key to understanding the second, which is to serve others . . . Realize, it’s Jesus Christ’s sacrifice (that we just talked about in discussing true faith) which allows for real unity (or peace) with other people. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two [Jew and gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.’ (Ephesians 2:13-18)

We are called to do all we can to live unified, as one (at peace) with each other (Romans 12:18). We cannot be restored to the center of God’s will and purpose if we are not restored to each other, which brings us to the second part of this second meaning of joy.

Serving others is a crucial part to our receiving true joy from God and to our corporate worship. Obeying Jesus Christ’s call to serve mankind over self is a core truth we must grasp if we want to become the true worshipers that God intended us to be. Christ Himself came to serve us, so why should we not also serve as He commands (Mark 10:45; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10)? Remember our (the bride’s) submission to the Bridegroom of heaven means we both serve Him as well as mimic, or imitate, Him. We can do this when we allow Christ to make His Spirit dominant within us (John 3:30; Ephesians 6:7) and when we follow His model of self sacrifice, which was to lay aside His heavenly throne to become human, live a human life, and die a sinner’s death so that we could be restored to God as holy and righteous (2 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 2:6-8). Faith in Jehovah and submission to Jesus comes first, then obeying Christ by being united as one body (the church) and serving each other (the members of that body) comes second. So, what’s third? You!

The letter ‘Y’ represents being at peace within yourself, and is the last meaning we find at the core of true joy . . . This type of peace can be ours daily. Real peace comes to us, via the Holy Spirit, from the Lord God, Jehovah, and is a gift that awaits all who are faithful in submitting their whole life to His Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 3:21-24).

praying hands 1 Our internal peace is also a by-product of righteousness (Psalm 85:10, 119:165; Isaiah 26:3, 32:17, 48:18). Righteousness and inner peace are ours through our relationship with Jesus Christ. If we do not allow God’s righteousness to grow and dwell in our daily lives, then we will not only live a life of stress and unrest, but we will put the Son’s reputation at risk . . . And returning once more to our first meaning of real joy (true faith via submitting to Jesus Christ’s headship over the body) by acknowledging the Son’s headship and submitting to serving Him, we gain peace within our own spirit (Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Hebrews 12:11). Then by following (submitting to; serving and mimicking) Christ’s example to serve others, we remain at peace with our brothers and sisters resulting in our own spirit being at peace with God and ourselves (Ephesians 4:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 12:14).

This is joy! And joy’s core meaning: to allow God’s real joy into our daily lives and daily worship. Did you catch the acrostic from earlier? Here it is once more:

– J – True faith in the Lord, God Jehovah and submission to His Son, Jesus Christ.
– O – Obedient to be unified as one body (the church) and to serve others (the members of the body).
– Y – Be at peace within yourself by being faithful to submit to Christ and serve others.”

J.O.Y.Jesus, Others, and You — this is how we can avoid the dangerous lifestyle of selfishness.

I’ll say it again, the great danger for humanity, as a whole, is in when people close their hearts to God’s purpose, will, and plan, and become self serving. Henry Van Dyke, American author, educator, and clergyman, made this statement, “Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul.” (from his poem entitled The Prison and The Angel) Escape the prison, that is selfishness. Embrace life to the fullest by living with real joy in yours. Don’t let your self become, as Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “A house of many windows.” This famous Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer went on to complete his thought when he stated, “there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.”

God made us to desire love and affection from each other, and from God, Himself, but if we settle to receive “love” and “affection” by performing for artificial affection — if we settle to receive “acknowledgement” and human “connection” by entering into superficial relationships — if we utilize selfish tirades to hold on to endless cycles of cosmetic and fake companionships, then expect to be very unfulfilled. Expect to feel lost and alone. But if you seek genuine fulfillment, real love, and true affection, then find rest in knowing that God genuinely loves us more than any sincere human being ever could or would (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:1). Enjoy the peace that comes from knowing that God provides our every need emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually (Philippians 4:19). We must all surrender our lives to the only One, who can bring us real, everlasting joy (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 4:7, 5:11, 16:11, 19:8, 28:7, 30:11). All it takes is our willingness to sacrifice our selves in the service of God for others.

I’ll close with this verse from Galatians, chapter five: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory Copyright © 1971 Paramount Pictures. Renewed Copyright © 1999 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved. TM ® & Copyright © 2001 by Warner Home Video, an AOL Time Warner Company 4000 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91522. All rights reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

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Article VII, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 7)

Childhood, for many, is full of wonderful tales of extraordinary adventures. Some are a bit odd, like Where the Wild Things Are, while others are more serious, like The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Kids Books 1 Most of the stories that were read to me as a child, or that I can recall reading myself, were chock-full of morals. Lessons about right-and-wrong that the author wanted his or her readers to learn about, and hopefully apply to their own lives.

The Poky Little Puppy, taught us to obey our Mothers, while the more complex — and thanks to political correctness, now controversial — stories of “Uncle Remus” taught us about the many character flaws of Br’er (Brother) Rabbit. Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, taught us that crime doesn’t pay at any age, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory showed us all what can happen to children who are spoiled by their parents, are left undisciplined, and are allowed to misbehave.

In 1971 this book was rewritten as a screen play and released, by Paramount Pictures, under the title Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The movie was directed by Mel Stuart, and stared Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, and Gene Wilder as the infamous “candy man,” Willy Wonka.

The plot is set up early on, by the revealing of a special contest that is being hosted by Mr. Wonka. The contest involved five golden tickets that were hidden inside five chocolate Wonka Bars. This chocolate candy five-some was randomly packed, along side the normal chocolate bars, and shipped to the many candy retailers around the globe. The lucky children who find the five golden tickets, along with the escort of their choice, would win a private tour of Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory. A factory so exclusive that no one is ever seen going in, nor is any one ever seen coming out.

Willy Wonka 3 While the media feverishly tracks down each winner, we find that the five golden tickets made their way all over the western hemisphere. In Germany, Augustus Gloop (played by Michael Bollner), a preteen boy with an insatiable appetite, becomes the first to find a golden ticket. Veruca Salt (played by Julie Dawn Cole), an overindulged English girl, became the second to find one. Then the third child to find a golden ticket was a gum-chewing American girl, named Violet Beauregarde (played by Denise Nickerson), and the fourth child to find a valuable voucher was Mike Teevee (played by Paris Themmen. This little guy was a television junky from the U.S., and the final child to find a golden ticket was economically deprived Charlie Bucket, who lived in the small, unnamed, European town where Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory existed.

As the names of the five children became known to the public, a man claiming to be Arthur Slugworth (Willy Wonka’s arch rival in the candy business; played by Günter Meisner) begins approaching each child to offer them a large sum of money. This cash prize would go to the child that manages to get a hold of Mr. Wonka’s latest candy creation, known as the Everlasting Gobstopper, and pass it on to him.

On the day of the grand tour, the winning quintet stood anxiously outside the huge metal gates of the mysterious chocolate factory, awaiting the arrival of their secretive host. As Willy Wonka makes his appearance, the children leap with excitement as they are now about to journey into the ever elusive candy factory of the world’s greatest candy maker. But before their trek would begin, they each had to sign a contract dictating to them that they could not touch, taste, eat, or take anything from the factory without permission from Mr. Wonka. If this contract is obeyed to the letter, then each obedient child would receive a lifetime supply of candy. It’s not long into the tour, though, that we see each child — one-by-one — fall into temptations grasp. Breaking their contract with the “candy man,” and finding themselves in one dangerous predicament after another.

The first to go, was the first to find a golden ticket — Augustus Gloop. While in the “Chocolate Room,” which was basically an indoor eatable park, the children were enjoying some wonderfully sweet treats — with Mr. Wonka’s permission, of course — when Augustus’ gluttony got the better of him. He was sampling the one thing they were told not to touch — the chocolate river. He had leaned in too far, while enjoying the sweet stream, and fell in. He was quickly pulled under by the current that constantly churned the chocolate river and ended up being pumped right into the “fudge room,” and out of the factory.

The second to go was little miss Violet Beauregarde, who fell victim to her obsession with chewing gum, while in the “Inventing Room.” She grabbed a piece of experimental gum, that was to have held all the flavors of a three-course meal, and quickly popped it into her mouth. As she described each flavor with intensity and enjoyment, she began to transform into a ripe, round blueberry. Mr. Wonka signals to his dwarf-like workers, known as Oompa-Loompas, to come and roll her down to be squeezed in a juicer and removed from the factory.

Willy Wonka 2 As the three remaining children work their way through the factory tour, they find themselves in a room of giant geese. The geese, as they soon find out, are the infamous geese that lay golden eggs. Veruca Salt, being the spoiled little girl that she was, quickly begins to demand that she be allowed to have one of the geese. Willy Wonka refuses her request which sends Miss Salt into a tirade of pre-pubes-ant furor. Her father begins offering Mr. Wonka large sums of money for one of the geese, so that his daughter’s tantrum can be quieted, but this was to no avail. Veruca becomes all the more enraged and ends up falling into an unlit furnace, meant to consume all the bad eggs laid by the geese, and thus becomes the third child to be escorted from the factory.

The fourth child to fall victim to his own voracious appetite for self-pleasure is our petite, American television addict — Mike Teevee. As Mr. Wonka begins to explain his invention for shrinking Wonka Bars, known as Wonkavision, Mike begins to exclaim that it works just like a TV transmission. He quickly pushes his way toward the machine and, upon starting it, places himself onto the platform that is meant to hold the giant Wonka Bars. To his Mother’s shock, her son is shrunk to the size of her thumb. Mr. Wonka summons the Oompa-Loompas to take the extra small Mr. Teevee to the “Stretching Room,” and then escort him off of the premises. Five children began the journey, but now only Charlie Bucket remained.

As Charlie and his grandfather follow Willy Wonka towards the end of the tour, they are surprised by the cold benediction and quick exit of Mr. Wonka into his office. Puzzled why they were not led out properly, nor given the life time supply of candy, both Grandpa Joe and Charlie quietly enter into the office of the “candy man.”

Inside the office, Grandpa Joe confronts Mr. Wonka about the grand prize. Willy Wonka is quite perturbed at their intrusion, and quickly responds by reminding them of the rules. You see, while on the tour, both Grandpa Joe and Charlie had snuck a taste of a strange gaseous concoction called Fizzy-Lifting Drinks. This breach of contract voided Charlie’s right to the award. Grandpa Joe, now infuriated, storms toward the exit and demands that Charlie follow along. Charlie, who had been watching the altercation between Mr. Wonka and his Grandfather, bows his head in shame. He knew he had done wrong, and he knew Willy Wonka had every right to be upset.

An Everlasting Gobstopper had been given to each of the children that had visited the “Inventing Room,” and Charlie’s Grandpa had every intention of selling it to Mr. Arthur Slugworth just as soon as he could contact him. But Charlie had other intentions, as he quietly places his sample of the newest of the Wonka candies on Mr. Wonka’s desk. With deep repentance in his voice, Charlie apologizes and walks towards the exit.

Willy Wonka 4 Slowly Willy Wonka reaches over to touch the hard candy laid upon his desk. “Show signs of good deed in a weary world,” we hear Mr. Wonka whisper. And with a quick turn in his chair, shouts:

“Charlie, you won! You did it; you did it!”

You see, the “candy man” wasn’t looking for perfection in his visitors. He was simply looking for honesty, and selflessness in their character. The other four children were selfish brats looking to be gratified to their hearts content, but Charlie — who understood the importance of doing for others — sacrificed his wants for the good of Mr. Wonka and his chocolate factory. So, not only did Charlie win the lifetime supply of candy, he also won the entire Wonka candy factory. This is what God is waiting for us to realize. God desires to give us so much more than just “candy.”

In the final minutes of the film, as Willy Wonka reveals to Charlie that he is giving him the entire chocolate factory, Mr. Wonka makes this statement, “Who can I trust to run the factory when I leave, and take care of the Oompa-Loompas for me? Not a grown-up. A grown-up would want to do everything his own way — not mine. That’s why I decided a long time ago that I had to find a child. A very honest, loving child. To whom I can tell all my most precious candy making secrets.” God longs to reveal His secrets of joy, life, and love to us, but we must cast off our “grown-up” ideologies, and self-centered desires. Jesus said, in Matthew, chapter eighteen, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

God truly desires to bless us abundantly, but humanity has become so preoccupied with selfish wants and desires (especially those of us living in the western hemisphere) that we end up treating God like some great, big, cosmic “candy man.” We all desire His sweet “chocolaty” blessings, but how many of us are willing to join in on the selfless, bitter sufferings that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, calls us to endure. If we will choose to suffer for Christ now, in this life, God will open up the treasures of Heaven to us.

I’ll leave you with these words that Jesus spoke in the ninth chapter of the Gospel according to Luke:

“Then He [Christ] said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24)

In part two, of this article on selfishness, we will look more deeply into what it means to be self-centered versus Christ-centered. We will attempt to cover all of the various ways in which selfishness can make an appearance in our lives, and reveal the way Christ would have us be.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory Copyright © 1971 Paramount Pictures. Renewed Copyright © 1999 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved. TM ® & Copyright © 2001 by Warner Home Video, an AOL Time Warner Company 4000 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91522. All rights reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article II, part 2


In part one of Article 2, we defined worship and began to look closer at two of three key attributes of God (His faithfulness and His hope) that produce the actions that equal worship, if we will choose to acknowledge them in our lives.

In this article we’ll begin with the third attribute — God is love.

Love can be defined in many ways, as worship can be, but for the sake of this blog let’s keep it simple. Let’s focus on the core definition of love and also its attributes. Love can be simply defined as a strong affection, a strong desire, or a strong devotion. Its attributes, listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-10, are: patience, kindness, without envy, without pride, without rudeness, isn’t selfish, isn’t easily angered, forgets offenses, is righteous, truthful, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres and is always faithful. These sound similar to the attributes ascribed to God in Galations 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control . . .” No wonder Paul revealed to us, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, that above all of God’s attributes the greatest is love. In fact, Scripture reveals that God, more than anything else ascribed to Him, is entirely, 100 percent love (1 John 4:16). So we could easily apply the definitions of love directly to God’s character and say God is a strong affection toward us, God is a strong desire toward us, God is a strong devotion to us, and this was revealed to mankind through the incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ. If we can truly grasp this truth and trust it (have faith in it), if we can truly have confidence in the fulfillment of God’s love through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection (have hope in it), if we can truly live a life of love (have a strong affection, strong desire, strong devotion to God) then we can truly worship God in our daily lives.

(God’s love + acknowledging and applying God’s love = worship)

Joshua understood God’s love for the people of Israel and also grasped the concept of living a life of love for God Himself. Joshua spoke in Joshua 22:5, “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Christ also taught this very same principle of worship in Matthew 22:37-38 when He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Christ didn’t stop there either; Jesus followed up His statement on love by saying in verse 39, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” To truly live a life of worship, a life filled with God’s love, we must also love mankind as God loves mankind. Think on that. Caring for people is yet another act of worship, but we will look further into this attribute in Article 4.

So, how can we take these equations of worship and apply them to our lives? How can we grasp these truths and let them rule our hearts on a daily basis? Just as the Hebrews used special words to describe their heart for worship, we too can ascribe three key words or principles to help us focus on what is at the heart of being a true worshiper of God.

First, we must have a Christ-like attitude (Philippians 2:5-8), an overall attitude of worship. You see, an attitude of worship will both prepare us for worshiping God and set the stage for our response to God after we have begun worshiping Him. How can we have a right attitude? I’ll go into more detail in the third article, but basically we can create an attitude of worship in our daily lives by applying these five positive attitude principles:

– Rejoice in the Lord — always! (Psalm 118:24; Philippians 4:4)

– Have a gentle spirit (Proverbs 15:1, 25:15; Ephesians 4:2-3)

– Replace worry with prayer (Psalm 4:1; Philippians 4:6-7)

– Keep a proper perspective/outlook on life (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

– Apply what you have learned and live it (Ephesians 4:22-25; Philippians 4:8-9)

Second, we must have joy in our lives, and I mean real joy which must dominate our hearts (Psalm 51:10-12; Isaiah 12:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; James 1:2-4). Real joy can be defined as a celebration of faith (Psalm 16:11), a rejoicing in service, and being at peace. In the fourth article we will delve deeper into what joy really means to us and how we can achieve it in our lives, but we must now begin to understand the importance this principle will have in our daily worship experience (Psalm 19:8; Proverbs 10:28).

Our third principle: we must understand God’s purpose for our lives (Job 36:5; Psalm 138:8; Proverbs 19:21). Why are we here? Why did God create us? We were created to be covered by God’s glory (Psalm 8:4-5), to reflect His righteousness (Proverbs 4:18; Romans 1:14-17), and to be in fellowship with our Creator (1 John 1:3-4). In other words, God purposed us to be holy (set apart) and to worship Him. Article 5 will explore God’s purpose for us in more detail, but we must realize now that God has revealed in His word a very definite purpose for mankind; a purpose of consecration and worship.

In closing, let’s realize that worship is more than just a song sung on Sunday morning. Let’s choose today to recall the three key attributes of God:

Faith

Hope

Love

Let’s choose to also remember to acknowledge these attributes of God in our lives so that we can begin the process of becoming true worshipers in all things. Let’s choose today to recall the three words or principles that will bring into light for each of us what should be at the heart of our daily worship:

Attitude

Joy

Purpose

Pastor and teacher Graham Truscott was absolutely correct when he said, “When God’s people begin to praise and worship Him using the biblical methods He gives, the power of His presence comes among His people in an even greater measure.” The biblical methods discussed above are together the cornerstone now set upon the foundation we laid in Article 1. Let’s move forward then, as we continue with building the temple of worship God desires in us.

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