By Adam Faughn
Have you considered the importance of our singing in worship? I would suppose that, for many people, singing is their "favorite" part of the service because music has a way of touching our minds and hearts that very few other things can.
That said, we do not sing just because it "feels good" to us, or simply because we enjoy it. Our enjoyment (or lack thereof) is never to be the determining factor in whether or not we engage in an avenue of worship. Scripture alone is to be our guide, and the New Testament, in multiple places, makes it clear that we are to sing as we worship the Lord (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; cf. Hebrews 13:15).
To what end, though? Are we just to sing in order to fulfill that command, or is there something more? While the Bible gives multiple reasons we are to sing, let us take a moment to briefly examine two that are found in one passage. In Colossians 3:16, Paul, by inspiration, wrote,
Let the word of Christ dwell in you
richly, teaching and admonishing one
another in all wisdom, singing psalms
and hymns and spiritual songs, with
thankfulness in your hearts to God.
While there are myriad lessons to be found in that singular verse, just take note of the phrase "teaching and admonishing" and consider how they relate to our singing.
We learn so much from singing! If you do not believe me, the next time I ask in a sermon for you to turn to Galatians or Philemon, how many people are "humming" the books of the New Testament in their minds? (The preacher may even be doing that sometimes!) Even more elementary, we learn our ABCs and other basic foundational principles through singing. In Pew Packers, we are planning on learning some Bible facts very soon that come through song.
As we grow and mature, however, we still teach so much through the lyrics of songs. For example, take the time to read the lyrics to a hymn like "The Church's One Foundation." You could examine each line – individually – of that hymn and develop a Bible lesson from each lyric!
For some people, they know a Biblical principle better – or with more depth—because of a song that has helped cement that truth in their mind. While we must always be certain that what we are singing is the truth, if it is, then a well-written song can help us put that truth in our minds in a memorable and helpful way.
But we also teach others, not just ourselves, when we sing. When you are singing a timeless truth from God's Word, you are helping to cement that truth in the mind of a brother or sister in Christ, one who might even be struggling to grasp that truth! So, while you may not preach a 30-minute sermon each week, you are teaching dozens of truths with the lyrics about faith that you sing.
This is an interesting concept because it is an interesting term. It has a somewhat wide range of meaning. The original word comes from two roots that, when you put them together, literally mean "to put to mind." As it was used in the First Century, it basically could be used of building someone up with something or to warn someone of something.
So, we sometimes sing to build up or to encourage. So many of our songs do just that through lyrics that cause us to be more joyful and peaceful due to our faith in God. How many of us have been lifted up from grief or even just gotten a little "spring in our step" simply by the words of a great hymn sung by faithful children of God? I know I have many times, and I have no doubt you likely have, as well.
Did you notice, though, that the word "admonish" can also mean "to warn?" There are some songs that warn us of not following the ways of God and of the punishment to come if we fail to repent. "There's a sad day coming" begins a verse that clearly is meant to warn. While it may be somewhat more rare that we sing lyrics like that, we need to heed those warnings when they are sung because it is clearly a Biblical concept. Look carefully at the lyrics of many of our "invitation songs," and you will see warnings from time-to-time.
Tied to that, however, we also need to remember that "I" am included in that "one another," so I should be encouraging and encouraged, and I should be admonishing and admonished! Singing, as it pertains to a congregation, is a two-way street, and we should be grateful to have the opportunity to be doing both the teaching and the learning when we sing.
So, with every lyric we sing, examine to make sure it is the truth. If it is, fulfill your duty in full faith by teaching and admonishing and be thankful that the Lord has given you this duty and this tremendous privilege.
And now, let us sing...