A Lifestyle of Worship
Featuring John Telman Posted on May 1, 2008
The New Testament gives little instruction regarding the use of music in the life of a person and the church. Rather, biblical instruction centers on character development that results in a lifestyle of worship. The song is important but becomes secondary to the more important shape of an individual's inner health. As an example, singing about placing faith in God is full of integrity and value when individuals believe and exercise this fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Does this conclude that we must be perfect to sing? The answer is obviously “no”. As was in the case of the psalmist, we are not fully developed in our character but we must actively address any inconsistencies between what we sing and how we live. The song is an expression of the inner man, not the other way around. While we must perfect the skills and abilities that God has placed in us to sing or play music, we must equally, if not more so, seek the development of the character of Jesus.
Dallas Willard, in his book, “Renovation of the Heart” says, “the life we live out in our moments, hours, days and years wells up from a hidden depth. What is in our heart matters more than anything else for who we become and what becomes of us.”
It's not just a matter of singing about faith. The action of faith must be exercised, (no matter how weak or new) for the song of faith to have meaning. Words mean something. They are expressions of the inner man.
Deep within us, we all intuitively understand this. Have you ever become a part of a quarrel with your family before a worship service? Was it easy to worship moments later or did it affect worship? Without restoration, singing praise and worship to God is shallow!
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:23,24 that our offerings must follow the integrity of the inner man. “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
In fact God so desires the inner man's character to precede the song that he stopped one worship service! “Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:23-24). God sees it all! Our songs don't impress him no matter how beautiful they sound if our hearts are not right! And it is God who we want to impress with our song, isn't it? Do we want God to say to us, “away with the noise of your worship”?
With humility and introspection we can come before Almighty God. We can make his praise glorious as living sacrifices. After all, that is our reasonable worship!
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