How Not to Worship: Irreverence

Kevin DeYoung

READ : Malachi 2:1-5

“. . . you do not set your heart to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty” (v. 2, NIV)

God’s people were guilty of worshiping first with an apathetic attitude, and secondly, by approaching God with irreverence. The priests were not honoring his name, not standing in awe before him. Therefore, the Lord promises to curse their offerings. “I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices” (v. 3). Offal is a polite word for animal innards and fecal matter—guts and dung. That’s what God thinks of careless, irreverent worship!

This doesn’t mean our services have to be somber and grave. But they should be weighty. Awe and reverence can be hard to come by. Traditionalists think reverence means old hymns and organs. Contemporary worshipers think reverence means raised hands and lots of emotion. So-called emergent worshipers think reverence means candles and darkness. Reverent worship can take place in all these settings, but the fear of the Lord is something more. Truly reverent worship requires coming before the God who is at once both inviting and terrifying. When the Lord descended on Mt. Sinai, the people trembled. When Peter realized Jesus was the Messiah, he fell on his knees in a pile of smelly fish. When John beheld the glorified Christ, he fell down as though dead. Reverent worship begins with seeing God as he truly is.


God, we stand in awe of your glory and majesty. Amen.