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Do you mean what you sing?


There are certain songs I just can’t sing anymore (the above isn’t one of them).

I may love the style and may even have beautiful memories attached to them, but when I really think them through, I don’t want to hear those words leaving my mouth headed to God’s ear.

Because they don’t honor him.

And I am talking about religious songs here.

Granted, most songs that make it into our worship services are there (hopefully!) because they hold God’s truths. And many songs that we sing along with at home or in our cars with Christian artists are also God-honoring.

But you can’t depend on it. Before you let the words stream out of your mouth, think them through. Are they pleasing to God? Do they reveal his grace? Can you mean them when you sing?

This isn’t about worship wars, the debate between traditional hymns versus contemporary praise music. This is bigger than that. This is about accurate content versus false. Truth versus lies.

Lyrics matter.

Songs we sing can either reinforce loving Christ more or else perpetuate depending on him less.

Stuart Townend is a current songwriter who expounds on the central gospel theme in many of his songs. He has penned such greats as “In Christ Alone,” “The Power of the Cross,” “The King of Love,” “Beautiful Savior.”

How Deep the Father’s Love is one of my favorites for the way Townend weaves the story of redemption in his strong and moving lyrics. Here are a few stanzas and a few scriptures:

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

(See Ephesians 3:18-19; John 3:16; Psalm 135:4)

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

(See Matthew 27:46; Luke 23:35; Hebrews 2:10)

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

(See Galatians 6:14)

In contrast, when I was a child I learned many songs about my “work” instead of his.

. . . Work thro’ the morning hours
Work while the dew is sparkling
Work ‘mid spring flow’rs

. . . O land of rest, for thee I sigh!
When will the moment come

. . . To the work! To the work!
Toiling on, toiling on, toiling on

. . .Thro’ the long and toilsome day
‘Neath a blazing, burning sun
Bear the heat, pursue your way
Till your task is done
Work, work for Jesus
Work, work today

Yes, we are to work for Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:58). Many scriptures point to this. But the message I picked up from these songs was for me to work for my salvation instead of resting in Christ’s work of salvation (Hebrews 10:10,14; Matthew 11:28-29).

So when I hear those songs now, I can’t sing them in good conscience. (Not implying that you can’t, please note.)

Bottom line:
Songs are powerful tools for us to teach and encourage each other (Colossians 3:16) as we praise and give thanks to our Father.

Be just as intentional about the words you sing as the words you speak.

* * *

What is a favorite song that helps you honor God?

Further reading:
10 Principles for Congregational Singing by Kevin DeYoung



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