There is a modern expression that describes an old human need. The expression is "kissing up" and it means to curtsy or cultivate favor with a superior. The human need is, of course, the need to be liked and appreciated by others, especially those who are over us in some way, or those who have something we want.
The term is usually negative because it suggests a measure of hypocrisy since a person is being nice or especially helpful not because he wants to but because he wants something.
Isn't it interesting to note that the Greek word for worship literally means to kiss forward! When we worship we are in reality "kissing up" to God. There are, however, some important differences between kissing up to people and kissing up to God.
1. People do not deserve our "kissing up" but God does.
Our cultivating of favor through praise of people is usually hypocritical because we do not usually mean it or they are not really worthy of what we say about them.
However, God is always worthy of any good thing we say about Him. He deserves all the praise we ever give Him. Since there are not enough hours in the day to give Him all the praise He actually deserves. Our problem with God is that we do not praise Him high enough, loud enough or often enough. It is never hypocrisy because all we say is all true.
2. We can manipulate people but not God.
People love to be "kissed up" to because it appeals to their pride. Even if they don't believe you, they still like to hear you kiss up because it makes them feel good. Many times a person only listens for the things he/she wants to hear and thus eliminates their ability to know the truth.
But God knows the truth. His word is truth (John 17:17) and so we cannot lie to God or hide the truth from Him. Throughout the Bible, God rejected the praise and worship of His people because their hearts were far from Him. Jesus, quoting Isaiah said:
You worship me with your lips but your hearts are far from me.
- Matthew 15:8
Men only hear what our lips say but God knows the heart and can truly discern the sincerity of our praise.
3. God can fulfill our desires, man cannot.
Even if you could kiss up to the President of the USA or the richest person in the world, could they give you peace of mind, self-respect, or enlightenment? Human beings can only give what is human, no matter who they are. Only God can give what is godly: forgiveness, insight into the spiritual realm, the joy of fellowship with God, and, most importantly, eternal life.
Kissing up to man has definite rewards; kissing up to God has infinite rewards.
So, when you are in worship try to remember what is happening.
It is not just singing or saying words in a prayer and ceremonial eating of bread and fruit of the vine. We are kissing up to God. This is why we do what we do, and why we are on our best behavior. It is not hypocritical or negative. We want and need to cultivate a good relationship with Him because He deserves it; and there are great rewards to be had.
The most interesting difference is that, unlike people who try to avoid people who kiss up or ridicule and take advantage of them, God is not like this. He actually looks for people who want to kiss up to Him. He searches for them and encourages them to obey Him, praise Him, love Him so He can save them and bless them.
Have a blessed week filled with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.
- Give an example of manipulation you often see people use to gain favor with others.
- Which part of worship do you think God enjoys the most? Why?
- Have you ever been "caught up in the Spirit" while praying? Describe the experience. Can you duplicate it at will?