Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16
For musicians, choir members and the congregation, (remember Calvin's famous quote: "...the congregation is the church's first choir."), the above verses are foundational to an understanding of the role of music in worship. We have discussed this verse in the past, but it has been several years since we dedicated a significant amount of time to it.
As our choir begins its 87th year(!!) it is vital to understand the reason for your song. As you study this verse, and commit it to memory (again), begin your study at verse 9b of Colossians 3 and then read through to verse 17 to get a better understanding of the Apostle Paul's motivation for including verse 16 in the passage.
Beginning at verse 9b, you'll notice Paul's admonition to "put off or lay aside the old man" and all of the evil practices included in verses 9 and 10. There is an old illustration that helps to understand this important concept:
The story is told of a very wealthy man in a Southern California town who was found wandering around the local country club wearing shabby clothes. He was promptly seized by security guards and charged with vagrancy -- even though he owned the country club! He had failed to dress consistent with who he was.
That is exactly what St. Paul is saying in verses 3:9b - 17: Christians must "dress themselves spiritually" in accordance with their new identity. They have died with Christ and risen to a new life (see Romans 6). Salvation produces a two-sided obligation for believers. First, they must throw off the garment of the old, sinful lifestyle. And then, they must put on the new lifestyle of the new man. To do that, they must understand the position, performance, perfection (maturity) of the new man.
We will see in the next few weeks that singing (and how and what we sing!) is a very important aspect of the "new lifestyle" of the believer.
To God be the Glory!