Do You attend Worship to be Edified, or to be Gratified?
I think a lot of people attend worship for the wrong reasons. First of all, our worship is something that we are giving God. It’s not something we’re supposed to be giving to ourselves. Jesus reminds us in Luke 4, verse 8, that “It is written; You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” We shouldn’t be trying to serve ourselves in our worship, because we come together to serve God!
Now with that being said, in speaking about the Christian worship assembly, we’re given this instruction, in 1 Corinthians 14, verse 26; “..Let all things be done for edification.” Even though we come together to GIVE worship to God, the worship that we give, is designed by God, and I think that’s an important point to remember; That our worship is designed, by God. But it is designed to be edifying to us.
To be edified, means to be strengthened spiritually. Worship is designed by God to build up our faith. Not to entertain us, or to build up our emotions, but to build our faith. It’s all about our faith! It’s our faith that’s going to enable us to be saved. Ephesians 2:8 says; “For by grace you have been saved, through faith..” God’s grace, is what provides the opportunity to be saved, and our faith, is what turns the opportunity, into a reality.
Jesus said; “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” (Mathew 7:21) Faith DOES the will of God, and it turns the offer of heaven, into the reality of heaven. And the worship that we give to God, is designed to edify us, in other words, it’s designed to increase our faith, so that we will DO, the will of God.
Edification is not Gratification
But instead of coming to worship for edification, people like to come for gratification. There’s a difference. To be edified, as we’ve seen, is to be strengthened in our faith. that’s what biblical edification is. But too many people come to worship, for gratification. Gratification is a feeling. It means to be made to feel good. And that’s what most people are looking for; they just want to “feel good”.
Here’s some synonyms for gratification.. pleasure, enjoyment, thrill, kicks, satisfaction, indulgence, relief, appeasement. Now, worshipping God, SHOULD be pleasurable, it should be satisfying, and it should be enjoyable. But the desire for those feelings, shouldn’t be the reason you come to worship. You should come to worship to fulfill your obligation to God, and to increase your faith in the process. And if as a result of that process, you also receive enjoyment, and pleasure, and satisfaction, from giving to God, and having your faith built up, then you’ve got a godly attitude!
But if your very purpose is just to “feel good”, then you’re not understanding the purpose of worship. What we need to learn, is how to FEEL gratified, by BEING edified. We need to learn to feel good, about learning the word of God, and having our faith strengthened and increased. “Let all things be done for edification..” And if you find that gratifying, then God has blessed you. Be thankful!
Worship Decently and in Order
The instruction to let all things be done for edification, doesn’t only refer to what is DONE in the worship assembly, but it also refers to HOW those things are to be done.
For example; Many Christians in the first century church, possessed the miraculous gift of speaking in “tongues” as it’s called. And verses 27 & 28 give instructions about how the gift of “tongues” should be used in the worship assembly. Here’s what it says; “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let it be by two, or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself and to God.”
Verse 40 sums it up like this; “But let all things be done decently and in an orderly manner.” “Decently” means the same as properly, or becomingly. It wouldn’t be proper, for someone to speak in an unknown language, if there wasn’t anyone there who could interpret what was just said. That wouldn’t edify anyone would it? Even though we don’t speak in tongues today, those of us who do speak during the worship service, should take this example as instruction for ourselves. We should speak clearly, and loudly enough, so that everyone can hear, and hopefully be edified by what we say.
Verse 3 of this chapter, speaks of someone who prophesies. And the word “prophesies” there, doesn’t refer to telling the future, but it refers to speaking by inspiration of God. So then, the one who prophesies, has the miraculous gift, of being inspired by God, in what he says in the assembly.
Verse 3 says; “But the one who prophesies, speaks to men, for edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” Three things are mentioned there, that were accomplished through speaking the word of God. And as long as we stick to the bible, the words that we speak today, are the same words that they spoke by inspiration, back then. Therefore, the same things that could be accomplished then by those words, can still be accomplished today by those words.
Edification, exhortation, and comfort. The word of God can definitely build us up. Acts 20:32 says; “And now I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you, and to give you, the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Verses of Scripture That Edify
Can you think of a particular verse of scripture, where “the word of His grace” edifies us? How about Romans 5:1 & 2? That verse says; “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction into this grace, in which we STAND, and we BOAST in hope, of the glory of God!” The KJ says; “We rejoice..” But the meaning is actually to boast and to glory! It means to hold your head up high!
Now that’s edifying! We are built up to the point of STANDING in grace, and we even hold our head up high and BOAST in the hope that God’s grace gives us! And the word “rejoice”, is actually a good word to use there. Think of it like this; We stand in God’s grace, and we can hold our head up high and rejoice, in the glory of God! That’s what edification allows us to do.
Listening to a band play, can’t help you to “stand in God’s grace. And listening to a motivational speaker can’t do it either. Listening to the word of God, that’s the only thing that can make you stand in grace! Oh, but it sure makes me feel good to hear that band play! Well, that’s fine I suppose, but it’s not going to feel quite as good when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ on the last day, knowing that we’ve been standing on gratification all these years, and not on edification, through God’s word.
There’s lots of verses like I just mentioned from the book of Romans. Any verse, or verses, that build our faith, is a verse that edifies. How about 1 Corinthians 15:1 thru 4; “Now I make know to you the gospel! Which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast, the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.”
“For I delivered to you as of first importance, what I also received; That Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that He was raise on the third day, according to the scriptures.” That’s classic “building material”.
And how’s this for increasing your faith.. Romans 8, verses 28 thru 35; “And we KNOW, that God causes ALL things to work together for good, for those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined, (that’s us) to conform to the image of His son, that he may be the first-fruits among many brethren. And whom He predestined, He also called, (again, this is us) and whom He called, these He also justified. And whom He justified, these also He glorified!”
“What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own SON, but delivered Him up for us all; How will He not also with Him, freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died; Yes rather who was RAISED, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us!”
Now that’s edifying! And if you want to be built up even more, then you just keep reading verses 35 thru 39; “Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” That’s a rhetorical question, and the answer is NO, none of those things can separate us from the love of God!
“Just as it is written; For Thy sake, we are being put to death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things, we overwhelmingly conquer, through Him who loved us! For I am convinced, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That’s encouragement, and edification, all rolled into one.
Exhortation Leads to Edification
And that brings us to another thing accomplished through the inspired word of God, and that is “exhortation”. Another word for “exhortation” would be the “encouragement”. The word of God, spoken, proclaimed, preached, sung, in the worship service, encourages the congregation.
“Encouragement”, in a way, also builds you up. As we saw from those last verses of scripture. And a lot of verses encourage us. For example; Listen to 1 Thessalonians 5:14 thru 24; “And we urge you brethren, admonish the unruly, and encourage the weak. Be patient with all men. See that no one repays another with evil for evil. But always seek after what is good for one another, and for all men.” We’re being encouraged there, to do what God says is the right things to do. And it continues..
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances, but examine everything. Hold fast to that which is good, abstain from every appearance of evil. Now, may the God of peace Himself, sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit, and soul, (your soul is your entire being) and your body, be preserved blameless, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he who calls you, and he also will bring it to pass.” (He’ll bring your salvation to pass!)
You can see the encouragement that God is giving us, through His word. So, encouragement can make us stronger, it can edify us, But another thing that encouragement can do, is to motivate us. Motivation can be the result of encouragement. And if we’re motivated to worship God, and to hear His word, then we’re going to be edified by His word!
I was looking up the difference between encouragement and motivation, and found this sentence that was used to illustrate the difference. Here’s what it said; “She was motivated to do well in her senior year in school, because of the encouragement she received from her parents and teachers.”
So then when we hear encouraging words from the bible, it strengthens us, and it motivates us. Listen to these words from 1 Corinthians 15:58; “Therefore my brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, KNOWING that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
By the Lord giving us the encouragement of KNOWING, that our labor in the Lord is not in vain, we’re therefore motivated, to BE steadfast, and to BE immovable, and always BE abounding in the work of the Lord. Isn’t that interesting how that works? And if we’re encouraged to be more faithful, then we’ll be more motivated to be faithful. And if we’re more motivated to be faithful, we just might BE more faithful. And the more faithful we become, the stronger we become. And the stronger we become, the more it encourages us. And the more we’re encouraged, the more we’re motivated. And so on, and so on, and so on.
Comfort I Get From God’s Own Word
There was one more thing that was mentioned, that the inspired word of God does. It edifies, and it encourages, and it comforts. So, let me give you just a classic example of how the word can comfort us. Let me read 1 Thessalonians 4:13 thru 18; “But we do not want you to be uninformed brethren, about those who have fallen sleep, (those who have died) that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him (with Jesus) those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”
“For this we say to you, by the word of the Lord (the inspired word of the Lord) that we who are alive, who remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede, those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout! With the voice of archangel, and with the trumpet of God! And the dead in Christ shall rise first!”
“Then, we who are alive, who remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.”
What could possibly be any more comforting, than to know that Jesus will return? And that when He does return, all those who are in Christ, will be gathered together, and will always be with the Lord. “Comfort one another with these words.”
God doesn’t want you to just “feel good” about attending the worship service. He wants you to be edified, and encouraged, and comforted. Don’t get it wrong; God surely wants you to feel good, about being edified, and encouraged, and comforted. But if we’re not edified, then it doesn’t make any difference how “good” we feel, because just “feeling good”, won’t save anyone.
So if you want your emotions to be built up, go to a concert, or go to a movie, or go to a high school sports event and cheer for your team! But if you want to be edified, come and worship God in spirit and in truth.