One time, my wife came home looking a bit flustered and worried. When I asked her what was wrong, she proceeded to tell me how she had been confronted in a small group church discussion for not being one to raise her hands all the way up during worship. From that I had a few questions in mind right away:
• What were those ladies doing watching whether my wife and other people were lifting their hands in worship instead of focusing on God and minding their own business?
• Does it really matter when we don't lift our hands in worship?
I do not mean to degrade the act of lifting hands. I believe in the power of lifting hands in worship. If you watch me worship (like these ladies) you'd see my hands as high as I possibly could get them. But as important as lifting hands up in surrender to God is, it's not everything.
Lifestyle, Not Worship Style
Worship has very little to do with the way you sing, dance or lift up your hands to the Lord. Whether your hands are on your waists, folded up to the chest, shoulder level or reaching for the roof, what matters more is the lifestyle you live after the song. Romans 12:1 says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."
It's not just your hands, but your whole body—your whole life.
A man who lifts up his hands in worship but at the same time lifts up his pride and arrogance at work is in no way more God-honouring than a man who folds his hands in worship but also when offered a bribe or kickback.
Hearts, Not Hands
Jesus shared a parable recorded in Luke 18:9-14 about a Pharisee and a tax collector who walked into the temple to worship at the same time. The Pharisee came in proud and sure that He was okay with God, looking around and comparing himself with other people (and maybe even seeing if people were lifting their hands or not).
On the other hand, the tax collector was repentant and humble, too ashamed to even lift his head.
But we are told, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (verse 14)
More than the lifting of the hands, God desires to see a humble lifting of the heart to the Lord for Him to have His cleansing ways in us. We cannot earn God's favour and redemption by lifting hands, giving a tithe or going to church. It is only by humbly accepting we are broken beyond fixing and need a Saviour in Christ to redeem us that we truly come into a redeemed and worshipping state, whether your hands are up or not.