Birds sing, but not in four-part harmony. Swans trumpet, but not in symphonies. Even angels are never recorded as singing in the Bible. God only gave humans voices to sing, a sense of rhythm and beat, and the ability to write or enjoy complex scores. Just like your body, your business, or your Bible, all blessings from God can be used or abused. Thus, the big challenge!
So you walk into a music store. Thousands of CD’s sit on racks in groups from Hip-hop to Rock and Pop. Then there is Jazz, Alternative, Grunge, and the beat goes on. So you exit and go across town to the Christian bookstore. The selection is less, but the range is similar. Only here, besides “Southern Gospel” and “Bible Bluegrass,” there is also “Christian Alternative,” “Christian Rap,” and “Christian Rock.” So, you go home, log on and go to a website where you can download MP3 files of any song this side of the moon. How do you pick “good” music? If it appeals to you, is it good? Is an old music style better than a new one? If it says “Christian” on the label is it automatically acceptable? Does beat matter?
Personal preference is certainly unreliable. Granted, you likely won’t listen to something that doesn’t appeal to you, but the “lie of our likes” is that what pleases us is not necessarily good. Some of the most liked foods are the worst for you. Preferences are problematic at best.
Perhaps to older believers, modern music is “new” and therefore automatically off the charts of good and healthy. But “old” rhythms are not necessarily any better than a “new release.” Although, many classic hymns were written years ago, the “age test” is not an absolute guide.
The right way to evaluate music is to compare it with the Word of God. He says, “Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18-19).
To be filled with the Spirit is to let Him have control of your life and guide you by Scripture. Therefore, you must evaluate your life before you evaluate lyrics. The ability to decide what is good music depends on your willingness to surrender to the Lord and let His Word be your guide. Are you willing?
THE PRINCIPLE OF CONSISTENCY
“Psalms:” Are the lyrics scriptural?
Music will be good and beneficial, in the measure in which it agrees with Holy Scripture. Obviously, a country song about drinking would be against the Scripture that says “Be not drunk with wine (Ephesians 5:18). Likewise, a rap song about disobeying your parents would violate the fifth commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12). The same evaluation must be made of “Christian” lyrics. For example, a hymn that is a prayer to the Holy Spirit would not be correct because prayer should be directed to the Father (Ephesians 2:18).
. . . OF CONTENT
“Hymns:” Do the lyrics honor God?
“Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God?” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The measure of the pleasure God receives from a song can guide you to a solid selection. Often, a new and repeated tune you hear during the week will fight its way into your mind at the Breaking of Bread. Would you welcome these lyrics as a way to express your adoration to the Lord? Also, we should make music “to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Therefore, would you be embarrassed to sing the song with the Lord Jesus present?
. . . OF COMMITMENT
“Spiritual Songs:” Do the lyrics convey principles that the Spirit can use in your life?
When God saved you, the Holy Spirit took up residence in you – not part of Him, all of Him! Now He is working in your life to guide you, use you, and make you like God’s Son. When you sin, you sadden Him. Thus, the Bible says, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30). Spiritual songs are songs that are in line with Who He is and what His mission is in you. For example, “Take my life and let it be,” fits just perfectly with His goal to consecrate you and use you for God.
. . . OF CONSIDERATION
“Speaking to one another:” How will this music affect others?
At some point, your music choice will reach others through the beat, the tune, the words, or the slipcover of the CD case. So, will unsaved people be drawn to your Savior and your gospel as a result of hearing your favorite music? So many modern “Christian” music styles allow you to listen to groups that look and sound exactly like non-Christian groups. It is a convenient way to avoid persecution and yet not have your conscience bother you for listening to “worldly music.” But is it really helping you to win souls for Christ?
Also, we must always be sensitive to our influence on other believers, old and young. If the lyrics or rhythm is going to steal their joy, defile their minds, lead them toward sin, or bother their consciences, far better to burn a CD of a different group. The progress of other believers is too valuable to sacrifice for your own musical pleasure. God says, “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32).
. . . OF CONTENTMENT
“Singing and making melody:” How does this music affect me?
One of the biggest debates is over the style and beat of music. It is interesting to ask unsaved people what music is appropriate for a person claiming to be a Christian. Would they think the rhythm and style of your music is consistent with your testimony as a follower of Christ?
Some would try and argue that rhythm and style are neutral and are strictly a matter of personal preference. Many studies have been done to evaluate the affects of beat. One study in Colorado showed that plants flourished when classical music was played and others died under the tones of rock music. Another study in California showed that premature babies grew under softer music while those listening to heavier beats struggled. So, besides affecting other believers and unsaved souls, the beat of your favorite music affects you too. The goal is to find music that will give you joy in your soul, put praise on your lips, and make you grateful in your heart.
So the beauty of music is not in the ears of the hearer, but in the measure in which it conforms to the principles of the Word of God. So, grab your CD case, look over your MP3 files, and review your favorite radio stations. It takes courage to evaluate your music preferences and perhaps you will have to make some tough decisions. But you can be sure it will be worth it for you, for others, and for the Lord if you take on these challenges and choices with The Music You Like!