When we talk about worship we don’t want to neglect the fact that it always involves our offerings. The offerings we make to God, however, are not offerings of obligation, but offerings of love. Our gifts and sacrifices are expressions of our deep love and “worth-ship” of God. With Valentine’s day coming up, I know I better give my wife a gift. But she doesn’t want my gifts that are motivated out of “ought, must or should.” She wants my gifts motivated by my love. Gifts given in order to get some specific benefit or to prevent some kind of negative consequences are not the kind of gifts that are really pleasing to my wife, nor to God. She doesn’t want chocolate, flowers, candy, or teddy bears. She wants my love. That’s exactly what God says to us regarding our worship also. In Hosea 6:6, we read, “I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.”

This passage in Hosea was one of Jesus’ favorite passages. He quoted it several time. He frequently challenged the professing religious people of his day to reexamine their motives. They insisted on ritualistic, formalized religious expressions as the fulfillment of the covenantal relationship between God and people. Jesus sent them away by quoting Hosea 6:6 saying, “go and learn what this means, I want your love, not your offerings.” I remember the old Tom Jones song from the 1960’s, The lyrics went something like this: I awakened this morning, I was filled with despair. All my dreams turned to ashes and now they are gone. And I looked at my life it was barren and bare. Without Love I had nothing at all. Without Love I had nothing. Without Love I had nothing at all. I had conquered the world. But what then did I have? Without Love I had nothing at all.”

We can do all kinds of good service. We can give all kinds of good things, but apart from the only acceptable motivation, Love, it all amounts to nothing. That’s what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13. He wrote, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” It’s not about the gift or the sacrifice, it’s about the motive. What I say doesn’t matter without love. What I do doesn’t matter without love. What I believe doesn’t matter without love. The three most important things according to the Apostle Paul are faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these three things is love. Love is the essential ingredient of worship.

“Offer yourself as a living sacrifice…this is your service of worship…” Romans 12:2