Language is a living thing. The words we use are constantly evolving. How and what we say today is quite different than the words used by those who came before us. Try reading Chaucer’s opening to “The Reeve’s Tale” out loud:
At Trumpyngtoun, nat fer fro Cantebrigge,
Ther gooth a brook, and over that a brigge,
Upon the whiche brook ther stant a melle;
And this is verray sooth that I yow telle:
A millere was ther dwellynge many a day.
Here it is in modern English:
At Trumpington, not far from Cambridge,
There goes a brook, and over that a bridge,
Upon the which brook there stands a mill;
And this is absolute truth that I tell you:
A miller was there dwelling many a day.
When words change, meaning changes as well. Sometimes the original spirit of a word is lost in process. The origins of many modern words and phrases can be quite surprising and insightful. The word “mortgage” comes from the Old French “mort” and “gage” which means “death pledge.” Which is about how long it seems it will take to pay one off when you first sign the papers. The jeans we wear are made of a material first made in Serge di Nimes, France–later shortened to di Nimes, which became “denim.” The other city that made denim was Genoa, Italy–called “Gene” by sixteenth-century Europeans–which is where we get the word “jeans.” The word “genuine” originally meant “placed on the knees.” In Ancient Rome, a father legally claimed his newborn child by sitting in front of his family and placing his child on his knee.
The word “worship” has also changed from its original form. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon “weorthscipe.” It means “worth-ship.” The condition of being worthy. I think the modern word is missing an important part of the original. Maybe we should change the word to “worth-ship.” God is worthy of worship. According to the Bible, he’s the only thing that deserves our true worship:
“For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.’(1 Chronicles 16:25 NIV)”
Worth-ship. Change the word and you find the real meaning. How many things in your life have genuine worth. We live in a now-culture filled with almost completely artificial ingredients. The next time you are at the store, check a bottle of “All Natural Snapple Apple” and notice that it contains exactly NO APPLE JUICE. In today’s culture, kids are more likely to know the flavors of strawberry, cherry, apple, banana, lemon, and lime from the soda fountain at the local 7/11. We’ve gotten so accustomed to imitation products that actually tasting the real thing is the exception, not the rule.
Imitation. Fake. Contains no juice. This is the world we know. Is there anything left that is real or has true worth?
A final thought… I went to the local computer store recently to purchase a hard drive reader. I have a couple of old computers and I wanted to take the hard drives out to save the data on them. When I got to the aisle where such gadgets are sold, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of them. I found over a dozen brands ranging in price from $20-$175. How in the world can I decide? My old pattern was to pick up the cheapest item and buy it. I didn’t need all the bells and whistles. Plus, I figured the more expensive ones were probably some type of fancy-packaged rip-offs.
After realizing that I had too many options and not enough information, I asked the store clerk for help. He recommended that I buy one that cost about $80. I quickly challenged him because I saw that some of them were only $20. He replied, “yeah. those don’t work.” Don’t work? Uhh… Of course I followed with “then why do you sell them?” He said, “because we make more margin of profit on them than anything else.” Now I am a musician and I know nothing about pricing and sales, so I was confused. “So let me get this straight. You make more money off the cheap ones than the expensive ones?” “Yes.” After protesting that this made no sense to me, he calmly pointed out: ” The $20 product is actually worth about 4 bucks. We sell it for 5 times it’s cost. The $80 one costs us just a little less than we sell it for. Also, the cheap one doesn’t really work at all, so in reality, you’re not saving any money because for $20 you are getting something worthless.” I bought the more expensive product, and I’m happy to say it’s worked great ever since.
Buying cheap things doesn’t save money. You may spend a smaller amount, but you only get something worthless. When you stop to think about it, what is worthy? What has true lasting value? What do you own that moths and rust and thieves will not destroy?
Take a moment to honestly evaluate what you are worshiping in your life. In eternal terms, does it have any lasting value? Is it the “real thing?” Or is it worthless.
From the Alpha to the Omega, there has only been one worthy thing in all the world: God. The Bible says God is worthy. He is worthy of our praise. Nothing else is.
From now on, whenever you think about the word “Worship,” change it. Change it to “Worth-ship” and then act accordingly.
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.‘(Psalm 29:2 NIV)”