This is an excerpt from the message “No One Will Take Your Joy from You” by Rev. John Piper, May 7, 2011, Desiring God ministry:
. . . God is glorified in worship when we delight to worship, not dutifully worship.
My favorite story . . . let’s do it for Mothers Day. . . . I show up tomorrow, let’s say, and I have brought yellow daisies—that’s what we did for years is yellow daisies on every occasion. So I’ve got a huge bundle of yellow daisies and I ring the doorbell. Noel comes to the door, and she’s perplexed. (“You live here—why are you ringing the doorbell?”) And I say, “Happy Mothers Day, Noel!”
And she goes, “Oh, Johnny, they’re beautiful! Why did you?”
And I say, “It’s my duty.” [laughter]
I’ve told that story a hundred times and people always laugh. You almost didn’t laugh. People always laugh. They laugh at duty. Duty is a beautiful thing, a good thing. And people are laughing at it. Why? It’s a good thing you laughed—you should laugh. Because you’re laughing at the stupidity of this husband: “It’s my duty. That’s why I brought you these flowers. That’s what husbands do. I’ve read the books.”
What’s wrong with that? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it: Noel does not feel honored at that moment. There’s something about “dutifully” worshipping that just doesn’t honor.
So let’s rerun the tape and do it right. Ding-dong. She comes to the door. “Happy Mothers Day, Noel!”
“Oh, Johnny, they’re beautiful! Why did you?”
And I say, “I couldn’t help myself! I love to buy flowers for you. In fact, I’ve made arrangements for childcare tonight. We’re going out tonight because there’s nothing I’d rather do tonight than be with you!”
And never in a million years would she say, “You are so selfish! All you ever think about is what makes you happy!”
Now that was a totally “my joy” statement I just made, wasn’t it? (“I can’t help myself. I love buying you flowers. I have a plan to do what I really want to do tonight, namely, spend it with you. What I really want to do.”)
Why doesn’t she get upset at my selfishness? . . . She knows this awesome truth that wives are more glorified when their husbands are more satisfied in them.
Now I’m just saying that’s an analogy to worship in this room. When we’re singing, if you’re here and you’re saying to God, “This is what I’m supposed to do. I’ve read the books. Christians do this. We come to church on the weekend and we sing, and we pray, and sometimes we lift our hands. That’s what I’m doing. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, God. Be impressed.” He’s not honored.
But if you come and you say to him, “I’m here because I want to be here. I love you.” Then He’s honored. . . .