Rockport Sermon

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thoughts on Worship from R.C. Sproul

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
John 4:23 ESV

I have been very blessed by the ministry of R.C. Sproul. Recently, I have been reading through his book "A Taste of Heaven - Worship in the Light of Eternity." I was particularly drawn to one section as I am reading through. As in most of my posts, I simply "cut and paste" what great authors have to say, I shall do so again.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

I once wrote a book on Human Dignity. In that book, I mentioned an exercise a consultant once showed me. He said: "this is going to be a fun exercise, R.C. I want you to write down the five most meaningful compliments people have given you in your lifetime." He was right---it was a fun enterprise. I didn't have to think about the criticisms or the insults that I'd had to deal with in my life; rather, I was able to focus on the nice things people had said to me.

As I thought about those compliments and wrote down the five that seemed most significant, I was astonished to see that every one of the things I listed---comments that had come from people's mouths--had occurred before I was twenty-one years of age, and yet I could remember them years and years later. Then the consultant began to show me that these comments had had a tremendously important shaping influence on my life. He also indicated to me that the people who gave these compliments were individuals whose judgement I valued and whose words I cherished because they were authority figures in my life: coaches, relatives, teachers, and so forth. In fact, two of the five compliments I listed were from my eight-grade English teacher, and I suddenly began to realize what a tremendous influence that woman had had in my life.

As we discussed these things, the consultant pointed out to me that there must have been times when people had said even nicer things about me. he asked, "Hasn't anybody ever given you a higher compliment than the ones that you've put down in this list?" "Well, yes," I said, and I mentioned a couple that came to mind. "Why didn't you write those down on the paper?" he asked. "That's easy," I said with a smile. "I didn't write them down because I didn't believe them."

I judged those particular compliments to be insincere. They were flattery, and I intuitively understood the difference between flattery and a genuine compliment. We somehow tend to know when people are giving us empty words of praise, of flattery, words that are not sincere. We have all received praise that isn't sincere, and there's something insulting about it. The very hollowness of it torments us in a way. We would like to be able to believe all the nice things people say about us---even when we know they don't mean what they're saying.

God's feelings aren't hurt by insincere praise, but neither is He honored by it. God is NEVER honored by flattery. That's why true worship must be sincere, genuine, and honest. (Emphasis Added). (40-41)

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