Music to God's Ears (Part 2)
In a previous article, we looked at the foundational purpose of music: to glorify God through song. Glorifying God in music is the first and foremost purpose of music within the church.
Another dynamic within the purpose of music in the church is to edify and encourage the body of believers. The apostle Paul, on two separate occasions, makes parallel statements to this regard. In Ephesians 5:15 and following, Paul is admonishing the church in Ephesus to walk in an upright and godly manner, not acting foolishly by getting drunk, but rather by being filled with the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Spirit includes being encouraged through music: “speaking to one another in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19). Similarly, in Colossians 3, Paul commands the believers in the church to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16).
Paul, in both of these passages, recognizes the great value that music is to the Christian. Music is often how we express the emotions of our heart, and God has given us music to be able to praise Him from a heart that is overflowing with His Word. But the encouragement that comes from music is not simply an encouragement for the singer; it can be an encouragement to others as well.
It is amazing to consider what takes place on a Sunday morning when the music begins and the congregation sings. There is no other place where like-minded individuals gather to sing with a common purpose. Many times when I am among the congregation, I will simply listen as the saints sing. The purpose of that is to hear God’s people joining together in one song with melody and harmony in the voices and hearts. This gives me such immense joy and encouragement––it is all I can do to keep from singing along with them! In that way, the singing of believers to God can also be an encouragement to one another.
A classic poem by Walt Whitman titled “I Hear America Singing” portrays the patriotic unity of individuals from all walks of life coming together for the common cause of their love for their country. In the same way, God’s people come from a wide variety of backgrounds and skill sets, yet they are unified in their desire to worship God together. This paints a beautiful picture of the body of Christ, and the strong bond that holds them together and keeps them accountable to each other is their love for Christ. When the church comes together to participate in worship through song, they are demonstrating the great love that they have for Christ, as well as the love that they have for one another.
When God’s people sing His praises to His glory, they, in return, are blessed by one another and encouraged to continue to run the race that is set before them.