It’s a controversial topic, a simple word surrounded by complex theories and discord. My intent with this post is not to preach, not to force my opinions down your throats, but rather to share something that God has been impressing upon my heart. To share His Word with you, that you might know Him better.
Music seems to be separated into two categories: the stuff we listen to on our own time, and what we use in church. While I have definite opinions regarding what type of music we ought to use in church, the styles that most clearly display God’s greatness and purity, my hope is to exhort you here regarding your personal music choices. In some ways, those leading the music and the church are the ones responsible for what music is used in the service (although we are to be discerning at all times what the will of God is) – but we are ALL responsible for what we listen to on our own time.
Quite simply, music affects us more than almost anything else. It speaks to the emotions, pulls at the body, teaches the mind. No one can deny that some tunes elicit happiness while others evoke feelings of sorrow. No one can deny feeling a pull to sway to a certain rhythm or jump around to a certain beat. No one can deny that words set to music are more easily retained, and more easily followed.
As humans created in God’s image, we can create things that are beautiful. We can create things that are excellent or worthy of praise. Even those who reject God have been made in His image, and can create beauty out of words and music. But they (and we) can also create things that detract from God’s holiness. Using the same notes and words that form beautiful music, we can form man-centered tunes and sinful lyrics.
But to get to the point, I ask what music you enjoy. What do you listen to in the car, or sing in the shower? What lyrics play over and over in your head as you try to go to sleep at night? Do they adhere to the standards of Philippians 4:8? You know, that verse doesn’t just apply to things in the spiritual realm. It applies to EVERY thing we think or listen to. Everything we meditate on (or play over and over again in our heads). Everything we allow to sway our emotions.
So do you listen to what is true?
Is it honorable?
Does it promote justice?
Is it lovely in every way?
Commendable by God?
Would it be considered excellent?
Is it worthy of praise?
Does the music you listen to portray the characteristics of our Creator, who gave us the talent to create music? He is a God of order and purity, wholly perfect in every way.
Or does it promote what He hates? He cannot bear to look upon immorality or lying or debauchery. He hates deception and rebellion. He names as sin anything that does not promote His glory above all else.
Does it uphold what is written in Scripture? His Word is not to be taken lightly or watered down. It must be respected, loved, and obeyed.
Or does it promote worthless speech? What goes into the mind and heart (and ears) will come out of the mouth: what you listen to, you will think about; and what you think about, you will speak.
Music affects us physically, emotionally, and mentally. It alters us more than any other thing in this world. So why aren’t we more discerning about what we listen to? Why don’t we pay more attention to what we allow in our minds? Think about it. Any style of music can contain lyrics that promote living like the ungodly, that exalt creation over its Creator, that praise immorality or questionable actions. Any genre can influence you to put your self and your interests ahead of God. Any style of music is capable of tempting you to sin. What we listen to must measure up to the standards and instructions given to us in Scripture:
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.
So… whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
(Ephesians 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18; 1 Corinthians 10:31)