This past Sunday my Connect Group discussed Luke 22, when Peter denies Jesus three times. As we considered applications, a helpful question that stood out was this: “What actions do you need to take to more readily be identified as a believer of Jesus?” We applied this in several ways, but one big one that I thought of was singing together.
Christians sing. Well, at least obedient Christians do (Eph. 5:19). The one true God who sings over his people (Zeph. 3:17) also calls us to sing—to the Lord and to each other, and even to ourselves at times (Psalm 103:1). But how does a Christian sing? How should we sing?
Here are three markers of authentic Christian singing:
- Humility. Have you ever cared more about what the people around you at church thought of the quality of your voice than you cared about how you honored God with your singing? I must answer, “Yes, I have.” I think I could probably answer for you too. But, as Christians, we sing for God’s glory, not our own. Regardless of whether you think you sing terribly, or terribly well, when you sing with humility it honors God and blesses your brother. Humility is formed in a Christian by the Spirit as we see God as he truly is, and see ourselves as we truly are before him—as we read, understand, and apply God’s Word to our lives. Will you humbly and gratefully sing for God’s glory?
- Joy. How do you personally express joy? It may look different than your fellow church member, but God calls all Christians to rejoice (Phil. 4:4). Christian joy flows from humble gratitude, as we respond to God’s glory in genuine wonder, reverence, awe, and passionate praise. The truth of God, not circumstances, is the source of true joy, and it produces emotions in the believer that we’re to express in joyful song. Clap your hands, bow your head, kneel in prayer, lift your hands, stand or sit, it could include some or all of these, but do sing for joy to the Lord, and for the Lord—to bless his name and his people. God rejoices over you with gladness… and loud singing! (Zeph. 3:17). Will you joyfully praise his name?
- Volume. This doesn’t always mean loud, certainly not obnoxious, but audible singing. Some people have louder voices and bigger lungs, but all are called to sing. One of the primary reasons we are commanded to gather (Heb. 10:25) and sing together (Eph. 5:19) is to build up the body of Christ (1 Cor. 14:26). I might have called this particular marker “love,” but I want to emphasize that it is loving to sing in a way that others can hear and so be encouraged by. It is hard to be encouraged during congregational singing by those who do not sing. Certainly there are times when you need to be quiet, listen, and just receive encouragement from others singing around you, but these times should be the exception rather than the norm. Christian singing should not be boisterous or boastful, but it should be big and bold enough to bless your brother and sister several rows away. God is honored when you sing humbly, joyfully, and audibly. Will you sing to encourage, edify, and love your church?
Would your “neighbor” on the row beside you at church identify you as a Christian by watching and hearing you sing? Would they say that joy, humility, and love mark your singing? Congregational singing may be the number one way that church visitors and non-Christians can tell if we really believe what we preach. Do you sing like a Christian? Who would know you are a follower of Jesus—by how you sing? “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4 ESV).