The apostle Paul came to Athens, the capital city of Greece, and in an area known as Mar’s Hill, found an altar with the inscription TO THE UNKNOWN GOD and there proclaimed how the people was engaging in ignorant worship (Acts 17:15-23). The ignorance of the people believed the unknown god was “worshiped” therapeuo, literally “to serve, do service” with men’s hands (17:24-25). This was their practice. They served their idols gods by giving them what they thought they needed. There is a donut shop that I frequent on occasion owned by a nice Asian family. Behind the counter, next to the window, they have two idol gods. The family serves these gods by giving them what they think they need. Donuts and drinks are placed before them. They have been given bits clothing and beads to wear. They sit inside enjoying the shelter of the shop. This is much like what was taking place in Athens. The Athenians served/worshiped their gods the way they saw fit. In contrast, Paul asserted that our hands/service and what we think is not needed or accepted in worshiping the true living God. “Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (17:25).
God does not require anything from us but what he has commanded us (Luke 17:10; Col.3:17). This is true of man-made inventions and innovations that many have ignorantly brought into worship (Matt.15:9; Col.2:22-23). The issue with using our hands in worship (applauding, rhythmic hand-clapping, and waving) is similar to the Athenian matter of ignorance. They are done because of what some think, not because of what God has said. There are no New Testament scriptures for these things. People may mean well as they did back in Athens. Trying to worship God speaks nobly of folks. However, worshiping God is done his way, not ours (John 4:23-24; 17:17). God alone determines how he is praised in worship. All New Testament praise is vocal. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name”(Heb.13:15). Paul’s correction still stands. Idols gods accept subjective forms of service because they are man-made and not alive. But never forget the Creator of all things is not like them and it is beyond foolish thinking he is (Acts 17:29; Rom.1:21-23). The true God will judge the world by his word (Acts 17:31; John 12:48). Therefore, serve/worship him wisely in the ways he has commanded and biblically authorized.