Adoration is the deep love and respect paid to someone we revere, especially as it pertains to a divine being. In the Bible, adoration is required of any and all who profess to know God. Adoration is akin to worship or paying homage.
Most versions of the New Testament do not use the word adoration in reference to our worship of God, but translate the Greek word proskuneó as “worship.” Proskuneó means “to bow before or to revere”; the root word means “to kiss,” so the idea of proskuneó is “to kiss the ground in reverence before someone.”
When the wise men arrived in Jerusalem and inquired as to the whereabouts of the newborn King, they said to Herod, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). The word translated “worship” is the word proskuneó, which communicates an adoration and reverence for the Son of God.
The refrain of the Christmas hymn “O Come, All Ye Faithful” enjoins us to follow the example of the wise men with a threefold iteration:
“O come, let us adore Him;
O come, let us adore Him;
O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord!”
The word in the Old Testament that most often refers to adoration is the Hebrew word shachah, which is also translated “worship.” Such adoration is forbidden to offer to idols (Psalm 97:7; Leviticus 26:1). God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24), as a loving husband is jealous of his bride’s affections toward other men. The Lord made us for Himself and desires that all our worshipful adoration be saved for Him alone. Jesus said that the Father is looking for those who will adore Him as we were designed to do. Jesus said that “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24). The word for “worship” in those verses can also be translated “adore.”
Adoration differs from praise, although the two are related. Adoration, or worship, should be reserved for God alone (Luke 4:8). Praise can be a part of adoration, but adoration goes beyond praise. Adoration gets to the heart of who we are. To truly worship God, we must let go of our self-worship. We must be willing to humble ourselves before God, surrender every part of our lives to His control, and adore Him for who He is, not just what He has done. Hebrews 12:28–29 reminds us of Deuteronomy 4:24: “Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” That consuming fire strips us of pride and self-consciousness. To truly worship means we lose ourselves in the adoration of another. Our only thought is the majesty and glory of the One we adore.
When we adore the Lord, our daily activities become acts of worship. Only when our deepest adoration is reserved for our Savior will all other loves take their proper place. We are able to love our families and friends better when our worshipful adoration belongs only to the Lord.