Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
The Duties of the First Commandment: Worshiping God Part 1
And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
Question 104 of the Larger Catechism asks, “What are the duties required in the First Commandment?” It gives the answer, “The duties required in the First Commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly, by thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honouring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of him; believing him; trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in him; being zealous for him; calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please him, and sorrowful when in any thing he is offended; and walking humbly with him.” Last week we considered our duty to know and acknowledge God as the only true God and as our God. This week we consider the command to worship and glorify Him accordingly.
The Christian, who rightly acknowledges God as the only true God and as his God, must worship Him accordingly. That is, as a believer in Christ, I must worship and glorify God as I know and acknowledge Him to actually be. For once I know and acknowledge God to be as He is in truth – the only true God and my God – it is my duty to relate to Him properly, as is befitting His nature and the nature of my relationship to Him. Here, the Catechism enumerates twenty-two different ways in which I am to worship and glorify God. This list taken as a whole sets forth the principle that every way in which I rightly relate to God is an act of worship and a glorifying of Him. For the list begins with the command to worship and glorify God using the preposition “by,” and then it lists twenty-two different objects of the preposition. Therefore, as we look at some of the particular ways we are to worship and glorify God, let us remember that every way in which we relate to God ought to be an act of worship, giving all of the glory to God alone.
First, we worship and glorify God as we rightly think of, meditate upon, and remember Him. We must always think upon God as all-powerful and all-good. God is the Being who is sovereignly over all of the circumstances of our lives. Nothing ever has or ever will happen to you by accident or chance. God intentionally brings everything into your life, and His intention in everything He brings into your life is for your spiritual and true good. In thinking of God’s sovereign goodness to us we must also meditate upon His person and works in nature and in the Scriptures. Meditating upon God’s attributes and actions in turn helps us to rightly think of Him. For we cannot long meditate on God as He has revealed Himself to be in creation and in the Bible without very soon rightly thinking upon His beauty, power, wisdom, and goodness in all of His works and in all His ways.
In Scripture the idea of remembering God always includes acts of faith and obedience. Thus, when Israel “did not remember” God’s wonders in delivering them from Egypt they turned away from Him and into sin (Psa. 78:41-43). Conversely, it is when God’s people “remember” His commandments that they actually do them (Psa. 103:18). So we are to remember God throughout the day so that we keep His commandments and do not sin. Furthermore, the person who rightly remembers God highly esteems, honors, and adores God. God in all of His perfections is worthy of the highest esteem, to Him belongs all honor, and we should adore God as the most beautiful and desirable being possible. Thus, in all of our thoughts, actions, and decisions, we should always love, choose, and desire God. The more we think upon and consider God, the more the God-honoring choice or action should become clearer and more desirable to us as the things of this world become strangely dim in comparison. For in the light of God’s perfections every other good thing will appear so much less, in that all the good that it has it has from entirely from God, and yet in a lesser, creaturely way. May God grant that we would strive to worship and glorify Him ever more in our thoughts, so that we would long for Him ever more in our hearts!