“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.”
Psalm 95:1-2 (NIV)
For many years I led Christians in worship every Lord’s Day. Therefore I saw their faces as we sang the great hymns of the faith. Occasionally, as I surveyed the people before me, I noticed that some were putting their whole hearts into singing the praise of God. Often there was the occasional person whose mind seemed to be anywhere but enjoying the great truths of Christianity that they were singing.
I recall one occasion in particular when we were singing Charles H. Gabriel’s hymn that begins with this verse —
I stand amazed in the presence Of Jesus the Nazarene
And wonder how He could love me, A sinner condemned, unclean.
As I looked on the congregation I wondered who there was truly amazed, who there was dumbfounded, who there was overwhelmed with the idea of a holy God forgiving sinners. Some certainly had the appearance of sincerity and conviction of this truth. But several were looking around apparently to see who was there, or just taking in the sights. Their mouths formed the words but their minds seemed elsewhere.
One famous Southern Baptist preacher said, “More lies have been sung behind a hymnal that we imagine.” What the old man was saying is that we sometimes do not know in our hearts the truths of the hymns we sing with our mouths. He quoted the hymn that has the words, “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold.” and he said the truth is that we hold onto our money with all our might!
Another great Christian writer was asked by his pastor to preach for the month he was on holiday. The man agreed but the second of the four Sundays he told the congregation their spiritual laziness made them unfit to sing the hymns as it would make hypocrites of them. We may not agree with the man’s actions but we must reluctantly agree that some people indeed make hypocrites of themselves when they sing things they do not believe or practice.
Next Sunday as you prepare your heart and mind for worship, make a point of paying close attention to the thoughts expressed in the hymns and then—if you agree with the words—sing with all your heart to the Lord! God delights in His people coming to His house and meeting with Him for praise and worship. If, for some reason, you have stopped going to the house of the Lord—believe me the Lord has missed you. Come home to God’s house this Sunday and fulfil your created purpose which is to love, serve, and enjoy the Lord your God.
Psalm 86:9 (NIV
“All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.”