Mean What You Sing

Nothing touches the human heart deeper than music. This is never more true than when a group of Christians sings heartily unto their Lord. Many a cold heart on skid row has melted as the strains of some old hymn lingered in the steamy streets and sleazy alleys surrounding a gospel mission. When congregations sing the praises of the King, even the demonic hosts stand at attention. “The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear, May Jesus Christ be praised!”

Such moving melodies hold out a warm welcome to strangers, comfort to the broken, refreshment to the lonely, and affirmation to the discouraged. Great music from God’s people instructs and reproves, blesses and relieves.

Who hasn’t nodded in agreement while singing, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love”? Who hasn’t stood taller or felt more confident after all the stanzas of “And Can It Be?” or “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” or “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”? And who hasn’t found himself lost in wonder, love, and praise while declaring “My Hope Is in the Lord”? Or received fresh strength from “It Is Well with My Soul”?

Charles Wesley, perhaps the most prolific hymnist of all time, realized the value of corporate singing as he wrote “Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise.” There is nothing to compare to that sound. Nothing.

But have you noticed the fly in our melodic ointment? It is not a lack of beauty or harmony, nor is it insufficient volume or intensity. It is, plain and simple, the presence of words with an absence of meaning. We sing well, but we fail to heed the message hidden behind the bars.

Stop and think. There’s a line in “Take My Life and Let It Be” that always makes me pause as the words stick in my throat: “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold.” Imagine! Not even “a mite”! We all sing that with such ease, yet I have known few who wouldn’t withhold something. Including me.

And how about this one?

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Really? Truly yielded? Genuinely still? Absolutely willing to be molded and made after His will?

Last Sunday after the service our congregation sang “I Give All My Witness to You” . . . and then we left. We all got into our cars, drove away, and most of us have not seen one another since. What’s been happening? Has He had our witness? Have the days that passed been that much different than two weeks earlier? A month? Those thoughts haunt me.

Think of each song or hymn as a promise to God, a binding statement of your commitment. Picture the results of this commitment as you sing it with gusto. Then, after the song has ended, apply it with the same gusto.

God not only loves a cheerful giver, He honors a sincere singer.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, “Mean What You Sing,” in The Finishing Touch: Becoming God’s Masterpiece (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994), 486–87. Copyright © 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

About the author


Pastor Chuck Swindoll

Pastor Chuck Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word. Since 1998, he has served as the senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, but Chuck’s listening audience extends beyond a local church body. As a leading program in Christian broadcasting since 1979, Insight for Living airs around the world. Chuck’s leadership as president and now chancellor emeritus of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry.

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