Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Mary's Heart of Worship

 By: Rebekah Hargraves 

Photo Courtesy Of: Jon Tyson

“For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.” ~Luke 1:48-50

I don’t know about you, sister, but my worship of God tends to most often pour from a heart that is happy and excited over things turning out the way that I want. Or I start worshipping when I get good news that carries with it good implications for me. Or I worship when I am feeling particularly blessed. Do you sense a theme here? Unfortunately, my worship of God tends to pour out of me when I get what I want, when I’m happy, or when I’m blessed - when it’s all about me, me, me.

There is a glaring and noticeable difference between the common driving force and inspiration behind my worship of God and Mary’s, isn’t there?

While I too often worship God for what He can give me or what He can do in my life or how happy He can make me feel, Mary’s focus here was on God and His great and mighty works. Granted, she, too, points out how God has blessed her and done great things for her. But her focus is so clearly not on herself. It’s on Him. 

Mary’s worship of God is actually focused on God. She praises Him throughout the duration of this song - known as her Magnificat - for being compassionate and empathetic, mighty and holy, merciful and strong, generous and the source of ultimate fulfillment, and helpful and intimately acquainted with His people. She praises Him for what He has done for her, yes, but her ultimate focus is the character of God Himself and praising Him for it. 

Oftentimes, when we focus on the blessings God gives to us for their own sake rather than seeing them as an amazing sign of His love and grace, we become prideful. Mary, however, denounces the sin of pride, praising God in Luke 1:51-53 for the fact that He “scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.”

Mary worshipped God first and foremost for Who He is - not for what she could get out of Him.

What is sometimes hard for me to remember and live out in my own day-to-day life is the reality that our great God is more than worthy of our adoration, worship, and praise - regardless of what the situations of my life may look like at the moment. Mary knew this, and her understanding in this area is precisely that for which she is most known (apart from her being the mother of Jesus, of course!). 

She is known for offering up to God a great sacrifice of praise in the midst of a harrowing, challenging situation. She is known not only for bending low in submission to His will, but also for worshipping wholeheartedly in the midst of it. She is known for finding many reasons to worship and adore God even in the midst of the impending judgment and hardship she would be sure to face as a young, unwed mother. She praised Him because she knew He was praiseworthy. 

Too often I think I inadvertently view God as my own little genie in a bottle or my own personal Daddy Warbucks there to lift me out of my problems and hard seasons, and up into a life of riches, ease, money, and status. After all, I’m deserving of a comfortable, trouble-free, easy life with a huge ministry and platform, right? Actually, dead wrong. 

Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Not may, but will. Peter likewise tells us in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

If we waited until we felt that all was right in our world, life was going along as we wanted, and we were having all our dreams come to fruition in order to worship God, no one would ever worship Him. It’s not about our dreams for ourselves, but about His. It’s not about our popularity, prestige, and praise, but about making His name famous and His glory known. And by His great grace, when we remember that, we find the truth of Psalm 37:4 in the process - “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth.” ~Psalm 115:1

Reflection Questions:

1) Do you tend to worship God for Who He is or for what you can get from Him? Why do you think this is?

2) How do you think Mary was able to so wholeheartedly worship God for Who He is?

3) How could you follow in Mary's footsteps today?

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