Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior...
God’s sharp sword stabbed me deeply this week is I was on a scriptural hunt in the Ephesian letter. I was searching for a verse totally unrelated to the one that sliced its way into me. It was another of those verses I feel sorry for (like John 3:17 and 1 John 1:10—look ’em up). This was Ephesians 5:19: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”
Everybody knows 5:18, where we are told “be filled with the Spirit.” But have you ever noticed that verse 18 ends with a comma, not a period? The next verse describes the very first result of being under the Spirit’s control: WE SING! We make melody with our hearts. We communicate His presence within us by presenting our own, individual Concert of Sacred Music to Him.
Now let’s go further. Ephesians 5 never once refers to a church building. I mention that because we Christians have so centralized our singing that we seldom engage in it once we walk away from a service. Stop and think. Did you sing on the way home last Sunday night? How about Monday, when you drove to work . . . or around the supper table . . . or Tuesday as you dressed for the day? Chances are, you didn’t even sing before or after you had your time with the Lord any day of the week. Why?
The Spirit-filled saint is a song–filled saint! Animals can’t sing. Neither can pews or pulpits or Bibles or buildings—only you. And your melody is broadcasted right into heaven, where God’s antenna is always receptive . . . where the soothing strains of your song are always appreciated.
If Martin Luther were alive today, he’d be heartsick. That rugged warrior of the faith had two basic objectives when he fired the reformation cannon into the sixteenth–century wall of spiritual ignorance. First, to give the people a Bible they could read on their own, and second, to give them a hymnal from which they could sing on their own. The Bible we have, and its words we read. The hymnal we have—but where, oh, where has the melody gone? We simply do not sing as often as we ought . . . and therein lies the blame and the shame.
Let me offer five corrective suggestions:
Whenever and whatever you sing, concentrate on the words. If it helps, close your eyes.
Make a definite effort to add one or two songs to your day. Remind yourself, periodically, of the words of a chorus or hymn you love and add them to your driving schedule or soap–and–shower time.
Sing often with a friend or members of your family. It helps break down all sorts of invisible barriers. You might even sing before grace at mealtime in the evening. That is so enjoyable, you may get addicted, I warn you.
Blow the dust off your tape or CD player and put on some beautiful music around the house. Just watch what happens to the atmosphere when you do this. And don’t forget to sing along and add your own harmony and “special” effects.
Never mind how beautiful or pitiful you may sound. You are not auditioning for the choir, you’re making melody with your heart. SING OUT!
If you listen closely when you’re through, you may hear the hosts of heaven shouting for joy. Then again, it might be your neighbor . . . screaming for relief.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, “Making Melody,” in The Finishing Touch: Becoming God’s Masterpiece (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994), 226–27. Copyright © 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.