When Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21), He was punctuating the absolute centrality of worship as the determinant for every human future. Worship or adoration is the most powerful expression a human being is capable of. When worship is directed to an unworthy person or object, we call it idolatry. Idolatry, not pride as we are often told, is the root of all sin. Pride is the wrong view of self that fuels idolatry, but the ultimate sin is the actual act of placing anyone or anything on the throne that is God’s alone. The first of God’s “Top 10” commands forbids idolatry with the words “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3), and Jesus reiterated that reality, circling “Love the Lord your God” as the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:34–40; Mark 12:28–34).
The highest and most powerful human experience is to express our love to the most worthy object of that affection. In the elevation of Christ’s worthiness, our greatest joy is discovered. The greatest sin, then, is directing that adoration elsewhere; not only because it insults God, but also because it insulates our hearts from the delight we were created to revel in. To fail at worship is the greatest failure a human is capable of with the gravest and most immediate of consequences. But when a believing community amplifies worship as their ultimate priority, they are shaped by that adoration into the most powerful human force possible.
The Hebrew word translated worship means, literally, “to fall or to prostrate yourself before someone on the ground, touching your forehead to earth.” Physically or figuratively, worship involves bowing or prostrating yourself before someone in humility and is actually a picture of subservience. In the New Testament, two words describe this action. One is the word proskuneo, which means “to kiss toward or to kiss the hand”—it’s the idea of adoration (this is the word repeatedly used in John 4). The second word is latreuo, meaning “to give or to pay homage.”
When you worship, you are saying, “This one is worth more.” At the same time you are implying, “I am worth less.” Worship is the magnification of God and the minimization of self. One of the most succinct expressions of a worshipper’s heart in all the New Testament came from John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Excerpted from Vertical Church.