I grew up in a traditional church where the worship was ‘reverent’. By reverent I mean formal, serious, orderly, with everyone quiet and appropriately dressed. There would be major concern if someone would have spoken out of turn… If someone expressed their worship too loudly or visibly… If someone clapped during the service or raised their hands… If someone did not dress up appropriately worthy of the King… (I can still hear someone saying, ‘you wouldn’t wear THAT before the Queen, would you?).

Eerdbiedig… a Dutch word that means reverent, a reverence worthy of God’s holiness. I would often hear the criticism about something, that it was not eerbiedig. I’m thinking about this because today I read about David dancing before the Ark. The same holy Ark of God’s Name that Uzzah died for touching (2 Samuel 6:6-7). David becomes undignified before the Lord because of his love for God’s grace and glory. “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2 Samuel 6:22) I see him dancing in his linen ephod, and I wonder what my church would have said. Actually, I know what they would have said… ‘that’s not eerdbiedig!’ They would have agreed with Michal… which is a scary thing to say.

I can only judge by what I see, I do not know the heart. “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). How do I know if someone else’s worship is reverent or irreverent? Not everyone who dances is being irreverent, not everyone who sits quietly is being reverent. Not everyone who dresses down is being disrespectful, not everyone who dresses up is being respectful. Only God knows the heart, only He can see whether our worship is “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). People express their love and worship for God differently. The only requirement before God is that it be from the heart (in spirit) and sincere (in truth).

Be very careful not to judge someone else’s worship, whether it seems too little or too much. Just because they’re not as expressive as me, doesn’t mean its not from the heart. Just because they’re more expressive than me, doesn’t mean its not from the heart. Let your quietness be sincere, let your exuberance be sincere, let it be for God and God alone. And let someone else worship God as they are led – God will determine whether it is real.

Be very careful not to judge someone else’s worship. Michal may have thought that she was honouring God, but actually she was dishonouring God. Her judgmental spirit, critical of David’s worship, only revealed her own barrenness. Her barrenness of body (2 Samuel 6:23) points to her barrenness of spirit. God sees beyond her supposed ‘eerdbiedig’ to the hollowness that was within her.

As a follower of Jesus, I am responsible for my own heart response before God. Am I actually joyful? Do I actually love God because of all that He has done for me? Am I more worried about what people think about me, than I am about what God sees in me? May the Spirit of Jesus — Who set me free from my guilt and shame and bondage and restored me as His precious child — make God’s grace and glory so real for me that I can say what David said! “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2 Samuel 6:21-22)

What do you think?

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