Do Christians honor and revere God by doing good unto others? In Matthew 25:34–46, Jesus depicted His second coming that He will divide the good people from the evil by whether they did good unto others or not.
Benevolence is to do good unto others. Are Christians worshiping God when they do good unto others? Is benevolence worship to God? To know if benevolence is worship, then one must first know what worship is.
Balancing Views of Worship
One can eliminate what many have come to believe by tradition of men. Many have come to the conclusion that worship is only that of reverent services done in assembly, but this idea is narrower than what the Scriptures teach. Worship is not always in assembly. In fact, there are only two times that a Greek word for “worship” is even slightly connected to assembly in the Scriptures. An unbeliever becoming a believer and worshiping after being convicted by the preaching of the assembly is an example of worship in 1 Corinthians 14:23–25 (cf. Acts 13:2). Edward C. Wharton, author of the book “The Church of Christ” published by Gospel Advocate, stated, “We should not think of worship as confined to praise or a worship activity in a church house.” For example, prayer is worship when done in and out of assembly. Singing spiritual songs is worship in and out of the assembly. The point is that worship goes across the boundaries of assembling. On the other hand, worship is not so broad as all of life. Worship is not the blinking of the eye, breathing air, playing golf, or fishing. Those who support these ideas justify themselves saying “worship is all of life.” These two extremes will be eliminated when we know what worship is.
To understand worship, the English word “worship.” Someone might ask, “What about the Bible’s definition?” The Bible does not define English terms, but Greek terms. The question is: “Is the English ‘worship’ a Biblical concept in Greek?” Is the meaning of “worship” a scriptural concept?
The Oxford Dictionary states that worship is, “n. 1a homage or reverence paid to a deity. b acts, rites, or ceremonies of worship. 2 adoration or devotion (worship of wealth)… v. 1 tr. adore as divine; honor with religious rites. 2 tr. idolize. 3 intr. attend public service.” Also note Merriam-Webster’s definition,
“n. 1 chiefly British : a person of importance — used as a title for various officials (as magistrates and some mayors) 2 : reverence offered [to] a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence 3 : a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual 4 : extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem v. 1 : to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power 2 : to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion intransitive senses : to perform or take part in worship or an act of worship”
“Worship” simply defined is to revere, adore, and honor something perceived to be greater than oneself. Looking ahead, is there any part of this definition that rejects benevolence from being acts of reverence, adoration, and honor to the great Creator of the universe? Not at all, benevolence fits worship. Now, does the word “worship” match any of the New Testament’s Greek terms translated “worship”? Yes, it does.
Biblical Greek Words for Worship
Most are surprised to know that 4 of the 6 words translated as “worship” in English Bibles have more specific or just different meanings than that of the English word “worship.” Translators often render these Greek words as other English words. Despite this, “worship” is a biblical concept because the English concept does line up with the meaning of two Greek words, proskuneo and sebomai. Both Greek words actually meet the definition of worship accurately. “The Greek Words for the Biblical Definition of Worship” provides a deeper study of the biblical words for worship.
Inferring Acts of Worship
After looking at the terms, no exclusion exists to deny benevolence from being worship to God. One can do good to others with honor and reverence to God thus making benevolence worship to God. By using good reasoning with a sound knowledge of the Scriptures, most conclude that praying, singing spiritual songs, and taking of the Lord’s Supper are worship though no passage says that praying, singing, and the Lord’s Supper are worship. However, scriptures do directly present sacrifices, temple worship, and teaching as worship. How does one know if praying, singing, and the Lord’s Supper are worship? One knows by necessary inference that praying, singing, and the Lord’s Supper are worship. For instance, Hebrews 13:15 reveals that praising God with lips is worship, “Through Him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to his name.” Praise to God from the lips is a spiritual sacrifice and therefore it is an act of worship.
Benevolence as Worship
Benevolence is an act of worship though not a direct act of worship like praise or praying to God. A scripture that supports benevolence as worship is Hebrews 13:16. The Spirit reveals through the writer, “But to do good and to commune forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Sacrifices are acts of worship in the Old Testament, and now Christians offer spiritual sacrifices of the New Testament (1 Pet 2:5; cf. Rom 12:1). In Hebrews 13:16, “to do good” is such an act of worship including “to commune,” which means literally “to share.” Benevolence is certainly an act of worship since sharing and doing good are spiritual sacrifices that please God. In fact, “to do good” is as broad as an act of worship can be defined in the Scriptures. However, the specifics of the definition of worship in the Scriptures exclude the marginal views of “all of life is worship” and “worship only occurs in Christian assemblies.”
Is benevolence worship? Yes! In “Questions and Answers – Open Forum Freed-Hardeman College Lectures” (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman, 1976. P. 333), Guy N. Woods is asked the question, “Would you please comment on the difference between serving God and worshiping God?” Woods commented that, “There is not nearly as much difference between these concepts as many today apparently believe. Occasionally, we see over the entrance to a church auditorium these words, ‘Enter to worship and leave to serve.’ This concept results from ignorance of what the New Testament teaches about service and worship to God.” In this same discourse, Guy Woods commented on acts of worship stating, “When, for example, a basket of food is carried to a needy family, the act is grounded in the concept of service, but it is done out of regard to our relationship to God, and to this extent involves an act of worship. Therefore, we worship God in serving others!”
— Note to those who prefer to use James 1:27 to teach that benevolence is worship. James 1:27 contains the Greek word “threiskeia,” which means “religion” not “worship.” “Threiskeia” does not have a verb form and so does not agree with the act of worship. The use of this passage to prove benevolence to be worship may result in someone rejecting that benevolence is worship. —