Psalm 111:1 – Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Two ways to give thanks to God that the Psalmist mentions in this verse: 1) with his whole heart, 2) in the company of the upright.
God looks on the heart and He knows when our thanksgiving is half hearted or half true. It is easy to get excited in a worship setting and sing loud, shout amen and simply feel lifted off the floor in the atmosphere of the moment. Whole hearted does not necessarily mean with great demonstrations of emotion or exuberance. But it does mean with total conviction. We are saved, first of all, not because we found Jesus, but because He found us. We did not choose Him, He chose us. How convinced are we that without Jesus we can do nothing? How much do we really believe that if the Lord does not build the house we will build nothing? Do we really believe that we are utterly dependent on God for everything; that if he does not feed us today we will not be fed, that if He does not keep us from falling into sin we will spend a day in utter debauchery, that if God does not enable us to understand what we read and study that we will benefit nothing from our time in the Scriptures?
This is the way to thankfulness with the whole heart. We simply need to believe what the Bible tells us about our dependence upon a loving, gracious, liberal God. We need to feel just how good God has been to us.
It is amazing how we can read the Bible and believe it and yet not feel the truth of it in our hearts and souls. Cold, hard hearted belief in the Scriptures is a worse testimony than outright denial of the faith. And there is far too much of it in the church of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, this praise to God is to occur in the company of the upright. Private quiet times with God are a valuable part of the Christian life, but they are not a substitute for corporate worship and interaction with others around the Word of God. It is easy to claim to be able to worship God with one’s whole heart when one does not test it by standing next to somebody who just rubs you the wrong way. Conversely, it may be difficult to sing and praise and understand the Scriptures properly when one only encounters such things by himself. We are made for community and real worship must happen in such a setting. Friendly greetings, exuberant singing from others, shouts of “amen”, hearing others pray, listening to a sermon that has been worked over, prayed over and cried over. All these and more that can only happen in the presence of others who are worshipping with us, are fuel for real heartfelt worship.
Absence from the presence of the children of God will not foster real whole hearted worship. It will work against it. We need to worship with others.
We are made for the worship of God. True worship is worship that is done with the whole heart. Wholehearted worship is enabled by meeting with others who also worship from their hearts. Don’t neglect to engage your whole heart through interaction with others who, just like you, need to be in the presence of others – in your presence.