Words matter. When there are no words, there is no clarity. When words come from an empty heart, there is no integrity. When words are inconsistent with behavior, this is hypocrisy.
As Christians, we must sing and speak words. Our faith, our worship depends on words. We cannot be clear about the gospel, about Christ, about salvation, about His glory without words. Even if we have to borrow it, we need language to thank Him.
Words also must not be empty. We cannot speak reality into existence as God can. When we speak and sing our faith and worship, the words won’t land unless there is a heft of trust and adoration already in our hearts.
Our words must also match our behavior. We are sensitive to misleading words, to the inconsistency and hypocrisy of those who do not do what they say.
So, here are three questions for us. Are our words clear in worship? Are our hearts driving those words? Are our actions consistent with the words that came from our hearts?
We often sing about standing and lifting our hands, about bowing down in worship. Many psalms call us to clap our hands and shout with loud songs. Those are words of thanks to God, humility before God, and joy in God. Are we clear? Yes, so far so good.
Do these words express the reality of our hearts before God? He looks at our hearts, which is comforting or terrifying. Does He actually find hands-high honor, clapping thanks, bowing humility, and vociferous joy? He should.
And do these words match the reality of our behavior. “Well,” we say, “God only cares about our hearts.” Does it bother Him if the words that come out of our hearts don’t fit what we do? Isn’t that hypocrisy?
We are learning in worship that clarity matters, that hearts matter, that behavior matters. In a recent message I mentioned that believers ought to consider kneeling in prayer. Kneeling is a clear word and it pictures a necessary reality. Since that sermon much has been said about God’s concern for the heart. So then, are we kneeling in heart before His holy majesty? That’s actually harder anyway. We say it, we believe it, but we wonder if we ought to do it. As a congregation we’re still “praying about it,” and that’s good for now, so long as we realize the danger of training ourselves to say something different than we do.