Pastor Marcus Blair, Grandview Baptist Church
First of all, as I begin to teach about worship, I want to pass on a phrase that my pastor has said a lot over the years: Worship is an attitude of the heart. It’s not just an activity. Now, when I say “worship” we probably immediately think about worship in song in our church services. But certainly, you can sing the songs, you can clap your hands, you can lift your hands upward in a posture of surrender and receiving, you can stand when you are supposed to, or even play an instrument without really worshipping. Worship is an attitude of the heart. Worship has to start inside you, in the salvation you have received, in the life you live for Jesus, in the Spiritual insides of you. And if worship is in your heart, you will worship God as you do dishes. You’ll worship him as you run errands. You’ll worship him when you cook, when you give, when you smile at others – it’s all about the heart before God.
That being said, one of the easiest ways to learn to worship and to grow in worship is through song. Believers found out centuries ago that when we meet to worship God, music is very useful to get people into an attitude of worship. Music moves us, emotionally, it teaches us things, intellectually, and it gives us a way to all raise our voice and be unified in the same song. So you can sing without worshipping. And you can worship without singing. But in singing, your heart of worship, if you have that heart attitude, can come forth very easily.
Mary sang this song to God out of the sheer joy and wonder in her heart. Where do you see that? V. 47 – “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” That is exactly what I’m talking about – worship is an attitude of the heart. She was rejoicing in God – her heart was full of joy, in her spirit, and she wanted to express that through singing.
The only problem is if we clap our hands, raise our hands, shout, sing, whatever we do, if we do it because we think it looks cool, or if we do it so others will notice, or if we do it because we feel obligated, that’s the wrong way. If you want to be expressive like that in worship, if you feel the Spirit move on your heart and you want to raise holy hands, you are doing it right! Worship is an attitude of the heart, not an activity, not a posture, not what you do with your body. Mary had it right – she was full of the Savior and her spirit was shining with joy, so she EXPRESSED it in song.
Now, the entire song is very beautiful, and speaks of his mercy, his strength, and the way he satisfies the hungry and miserable with GOOD things. But I want to focus on one word there in V. 46 that very much captures how worship should be done: MAGNIFY.
This is not the first time in the Bible someone said they wanted to magnify the Lord. In Psalm 34, it was King David who first said “O magnify the Lord with me.” And it’s a really neat connection that Mary here uses David’s words, as Jesus came from the family line of David.
But really, how can we magnify the Lord? That idea puzzled me when I was a new Christian. To magnify means to make something appear bigger, but if God fills the whole universe and beyond, how can I possibly make him any bigger? The answer is, when I magnify God in worship, I am making him bigger and bigger in my life so others can see.
My expression of worship puts a giant magnifying glass on the Spirit who is in my heart so that others can see him. He’s not small, but people’s opinion of him is. He’s not a little God, but people are so blind they need him blown up so they can properly see him! I magnify God when I do right, when I am kind to others, I magnify him in many ways. But I also want to be like Mary here – I will magnify him through my singing, in my worship.
This is why we don’t want to be lukewarm, or timid, or so reserved when we meet and worship him in song. If you will sing out, and aren’t scared of your inexperience, or how others might judge you, your mouth suddenly is a fountain of light and you are spraying the joy and love of God everywhere. The people around you are going to see that you are magnifying God – he just seems bigger and bigger in your life. Worship, in that way, is a witness.
He is worthy of all our worship, our focus, and our love. For who he is, for all he has done. When we remember the greatness of our God, our only response can be to open our mouth and magnify him!