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Recently I was traveling with my three children, Nicole, Tyler and Alexis and Nicole's friend, Izabel. Nicole and Izabel are preteens and I often found it interesting to listen to their discussions. On this particular day they were discussing raising your hands in worship. Nicole mentioned that she often saw that I raised my hands during worship. Then Nicole asked me why I did it. I opened my mouth to go into long detail of why I raise my hands to honor God when Izabel broke in with, "People raise their hands to show that they really mean it." Whoa! That cut me to the quick. I then began to question myself. Do I really mean it when I raise my hands during worship or am I only doing it to make others think I am more spiritual?
It says in Matthew 6:5-6, "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." What I take from the scripture here can be applied to public praise to God. God does not want us to show others how Holy we are. He wants the focus to be Him and the praise to flow naturally from our hearts. We are not to be focused on what Joe and Janet Christian down the row are doing or what they may be thinking about what we are doing.
In Luke 18, He told the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in which the Pharasee was making a loud declaration to God in which the sole purpose was to attract attention of others. In the story, there was also a tax collector who "stood at a distance" and prayed a prayer of confession from his heart. Christ honored the second prayer because the motivation of the tax collector was entirely focused on Him. In Genesis God accepted Abel's sacrifice and rejected Cain's because of the motivation behind the sacrifices.
God is a jealous God and He wants our focus on Him. If we are worried about other's oppinions of how we worship, we are not focusing on Him. In Psalm 150:6 it says, "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!" God wants our whole heart. Anything less is mere chatter cast upon the wind.
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