Singing is a common, but odd part of life. What is it about stretching out vowel sounds that brings so much of our inner-selves out into the open?
From the earliest of ages, we are prone to sing. Regardless of the tone quality, we readily belt out whatever is on our minds. Our favorite songs help us emotionally identify with another person or situation – oftentimes the song will be able to put what we feel into words, even though don’t quite know how to say them.
We sing for a variety of reasons, too. We sing because we feel good. We sing because we feel bad. We sing because we’re hurt. We sing the praises of others. We may sing alone, but the moments when we sing together are very precious.
All throughout the pages of Scripture, we find people singing. Even some books of the Bible are composed entirely of songs. There are songs about the past, songs about the present, and there is the prophecies of us singing “new songs” in eternity future. Clearly, singing is an important part of the human experience. God made us, and one of the things he made for us to do, is to sing.
While giving the believers in Colossae basic directions for living a Christ-focused life, Paul included a note about singing:
Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.
The psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs covers the range of styles that the Colossian Jewish and Gentile believers would have been familiar with. Notice that Paul isn’t commenting on music style or preference…but he does give direction for their motivation to sing. The root of their songs will come from their gratitude…to God.
This direction, however, doesn’t mean that all of our songs are of a “thank-you-thank-you-thank-you” tone. It is ok to sing about difficulties and failures, for they are part of our experience. In this verse, Paul is telling them that their inspiration to sing is in their position of thankfulness toward God.
Their inspiration will come from practicing the direction Paul writes at the beginning of the sentence – let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you. Paul knows that the Colossian believers need to dwell richly – or intimately live with – the depth of Jesus’ love for us. As they are continually taught and encouraged with the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, gratitude will begin to motivate their lives, including the songs they sing.
But what topics, specifically, would they sing about? How would they know if they’re singing the right things?
I’m certain that as the message about the Messiah was dwelling richly among them, they had plenty to sing about.