“Because you have not served the LORD your God joyfully and wholeheartedly with the abundance of everything you have…” (Deuteronomy 28:47)
This verse occurs in a series of curses and threats of curses as God sets forth what he expects from the Israelites and the consequences if they fail to obey. I think this one potential reason for curses can teach us about what God expects of our worship.
1. God expects us to worship joyfully.
Noah Webster defined “joy” as:
“The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by… a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire… Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.”
If joy is something stirred up by the possession of good or by possessing what we love or desire, who should be more joyful than Christians? We have received the greatest, most costly, most precious thing anyone could ever hope of possessing, and this should create joy in our hearts that pours out in our worship and service of the God who saves us. If our service, our worship, and our lives are not characterized by joy, something is wrong.
2. God expects us to worship wholeheartedly.
Once again, I think the marriage analogy helps us here. Today is Valentine’s Day. If I give my wife flowers and candy or maybe some jewelry and tell her that I love her, but secretly I’m lusting after someone else, do I really love her? Similarly, if I’m singing about my love for Jesus on a Sunday morning with my eyes closed and hands raised and a big fat check in the offering plate, but I’m secretly holding on to some pet sin that I don’t want to surrender, do I really love him? Serving God is not a part-time proposition. He does not want pieces of me. He wants all of me. If I am not worshipping God wholeheartedly, am I worshipping him at all?
3. God expects us to worship out of our abundance.
There possibly has never been a culture more qualified to give abundantly than ours, but for some reason we don’t. According to both secular and Christian researchers, the average American gives between 2-3% of his annual income to charities and religious organizations. To make it worse, the higher a person’s annual income, the lower percentage of it they give. I have to believe that God is not pleased by those numbers. Deuteronomy 8:18 makes it clear that God “is the one who gives ability to get wealth.” But instead of returning to God that which he has bestowed upon us, Americans hoard it and try to accumulate as much of it as possible. God has blessed us with abundance, and he expects us to serve him out of that abundance.