One of the holiest moments in my life happened at a campfire in Zambia at the home of Stai, a widow and caretaker to her three orphaned grandsons. She didn’t have enough food to make dinner, she was abandoned to poverty by the men in her extended family, but she sang praises to God around the fire. She embodied the call of Colossians 3:16 to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” She was a beautiful example of joy and gratitude.
1. Joy and Gratitude Flow from the Gospel
Jesus said believing the gospel would fill our hearts to overflowing (John 7:37-38). The reason we should sing with joy and gratitude is because of all the riches and blessings we have received from God in Christ! Our whole lives should be about worship now (Romans 12:1).
2. Singing Lets Joy and Gratitude Flow Out of Our Hearts…
1) …Through Our Bodies
Singing is a full-bodied action that activates the whole person.… Singing requires us to call on parts of the body that might otherwise be rather dormant—stomach muscles and vocal chords, lungs and tongues. And since singing seems to tap into our joints and muscles, song often pulls us into dance or raising our hands in praise. Thus in song there is a performative affirmation of our embodiment, a marshaling of it for expression—whether beautiful songs of praise or mournful dirges of lament.… In short, music and song seem to stand as packed microcosms of what it means to be human. -James K.A. Smith
2) …With the Church on Earth…
When we sing God’s praises, we are united with our brothers and sisters in Christ, like I was united to Stai as she sang praise to God (Romans 15:5-6).
3) …And with the Church in Heaven…
When we sing praise to God, we are united to the eternal rock concert that is the New Jerusalem (Revelation 7:9-12).
4) …Resulting in Christlike Character.
Through singing praise to God, we become the kind of people who can follow Paul’s words in the next verse: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Reflection and Discussion Questions
Do you enjoy singing God’s praises? Why or why not?
Have you reflected on your spiritual poverty apart from Christ? Why is there a link between our poverty and gospel joy (see Matthew 5:3)?
Why is it important to involve our bodies in worship? Why are many Christians reticent to do so?
How does singing praise to God unite us to other Christians in the church?
Do you believe that singing praise to God unites us to the church in heaven? Why should this truth fill us with joy?
What impact on Christlike character does singing have? How does singing God’s praise prepare us for eternity in his kingdom?
What is one song or hymn that you have memorized that has brought you comfort or joy in the past? What is one song or hymn you enjoy that you would like to commit to memory for the same reason?