Love-Driven Worship

“Oh, love Yahweh, all you His holy ones! Yahweh guards the faithful but repays fully the one who acts in lofty pride.”

Psalm 31:23

It has been said that men do not consider receiving love to be their primary goal. For instance, most guys don’t innately long for their boss, coworker, or buddy to love them. On the contrary, men desire to be respected, commended, and honored—it’s those sorts of things that guys, like me, tend to appreciate.

If this is true among most men, it may explain why males generally come off as less sensitive than women; they just aren’t built to need affection in the same way as their counterparts. That is not to say, that men are somehow devoid of their need for love. But it is often more subdued in its expression.

When it comes to worship, men (as well as women) can sometimes fall into this same pragmatic tendency. “This is what God requires of me,” we think. “This service and duty will cause God to be pleased with me. These are the precepts the LORD wants.” We fulfill our obligation to our Maker and move along.

But ultimately, God desires something more. God wants us to love Him.

“So now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God ask from you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 10:12).

“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’” (Matt. 22:37)

Yes, it is biblically true; God doesn’t solely want us to respect and fear Him. He desires our love! It’s not that He needs it like a love-sick puppy, miserable without our affection. He is complete in all things without us. Nonetheless, He desires us to love Him. It is striking that many of God’s deeds were either done to woo people to Him or to demonstrate His righteous jealousy for them. So, since He has lavished such dramatic love upon us, how should we respond?

What Love-Driven Worship Looks Like

Worship can be most meaningful when it is spontaneous, coming straight from the heart without compulsion. For example, as I am writing this, my seven-year-old son has handed me a note without any prompting. It contains a hand-drawn picture of a furry brown mouse that he sketched for me. Above it is written, in his best letters, “I LOVE YOU.” As I am reading it, my heart smiles. I also remember how, though my beloved wife appreciates flowers on Valentine’s Day, she glows when I catch her by surprise with an unexpected bouquet!

What if tonight, you put everything else in the world on hold just to say, “Jesus, I love You?” What if, from the deep gratitude of your heart, you got on your knees to say, “God, I was thinking, you have been so good to me . . . and Lord, I want to give you an offering—not because I must . . . or because I want to get something out of it—but simply because I love You?”

Consider King David’s desire to construct a temple for the LORD. According to 2nd Samuel chapter seven, God never commands David to build a house of worship. Rather, David chooses to do this work for God. God poured out so many blessings upon David’s life, and so David simply wanted to show love to the One who had been so good to him. Afterward, the LORD commends David, rewarding him richly because of his sincerity.  

There are other ways to express love in worship as well. Love-driven worship can also be shown through thoughtful planning. For example, my wife also realizes the depth of my love when we embark on a long-scheduled getaway. Likewise, scheduled worship services and retreats are beautiful opportunities to experience intimacy with our Maker. The key is intentionality, be it spontaneous or planned out.

Lack of Dictates Leaves Room For Love

It is interesting that in the New Testament, we are often given examples of how to worship more than dictates. I believe this is intentional.

For example, my children and I recently read a devotional from The One Year Devotion for Kids. It tells the story of a child who doesn’t understand why his family attends church on Sunday afternoons. “But we already went to church once,” the child grumbled. “Where does the Bible say we have to go twice?” “That is a fair question,” answered the dad. He proceeded to explain to his son that they should go out of love for God rather than obligation.

Later, the child’s father handed his son a list. It outlined gifts that he would require his son to purchase on his birthday, Christmas, Father’s Day, and so on. The child objected, saying “If I get you something because you say I have to, it won’t seem like a real gift.”

Worship is much the same way God has been so kind and good to us. He has been magnificent in His initiation of love toward us. It ought to drive us to reciprocate His love without obligation or legalism.

So then, let us love the Lord with all our heart, from the depths of our soul, and with every thought of our mind. After all, “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

For further reading
Worship Team Handbook<br />
by: Urbana Worship Team and Andy Crouch
DEEPER: Launching a Faithwalk with God<br />
by: Travis Lee
The Worship Leader's Handbook Practical Answers to Tough Questions<br />
By: Tom Kraeuter
Let It Rise: A Manual for Worship<br />
By: Holland Davis
Travis Lee


Travis Lee is a Nashville recording artist and ordained minister of Hope Church in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. He founded Faithwalk Ministries in 2009 and has authored several books including DEEPER: Launching a Faithwalk with God and the children’s book series entitled Adventures of Fred and SylviaThe Travis Lee Band currently tours the United States and abroad teaching God’s Word at churches, recovery groups, and prisons. Travis and his wife Allegra, minister together and travel with their six young children, Arrow, Sabre, Scythe, Lance, Dagger, and Mace.

January 22, 2024

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