There are so many opinions when it comes to choosing music. Traditional or contemporary? Hymns or choruses? Only Christian music? Any kind of music? Is it only the lyrics that matter? Are some rhythms or instruments bad? Can any music be used for the glory of God? Is it even worth bothering to ask the questions?
I don’t have all the answers. But I would encourage you to ask the questions. Music is powerful, and it can be used for good or evil. How, then, should we choose music?
Consider this verse with me:
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
I see this as a principle, and one that has proved very helpful in choosing music. Perhaps it isn’t true for everyone, but I find that songs get stuck easily in my head. The words stick far better than if they weren’t with a tune. Music affects my emotions, my attitudes, my perceptions. Intentionally or not, music is something that I easily meditate on, sometimes subconsciously.
So when I choose music to listen to, these are the questions I like to ask:
- Are the messages conveyed in this song true? Do they line up with Scripture? Not that every song has to have a deep message, but if it’s conveying lies or contradicting Scripture, do I want to meditate on it?
- Is this song noble? Other interpretations of this word are honorable or honest. Again, is it telling me truth or lies? Does it honor God? Does it honor others?
- Is this song just and right? Is there a dissonance to this song, something that doesn’t feel or sound quite right about it? Sometimes I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but I have a “gut-check”.
- Is this song pure? Does it have a right & holy view of God and the people made in His image? I’m not going to skirt around the issue, impure sexual content shows up in a LOT of songs.
- Is this song lovely? This especially applies if you can’t understand the lyrics or there are no lyrics. Is there a beauty and order to the music that reflects the Creator? I’ll be honest, I have a difficult time calling a hard rock song “lovely”.
- Is this song of good report? Or admirable, commendable, of good repute. There is music that you can truly admire, whether the composition or the talent in a singer/musician. But there’s the other kind too. Is it a song you would listen to with God in the room (because He is!)?
- Is there any virtue in this song? Perhaps a song seems to fall into the “harmless” category. If there is truly nothing harmful, is there any virtue, anything good in the song? Because if not, it might very well be a waste of your time.
- Is there anything praiseworthy in this song? Is this a song that deserves your praise? A band or group that deserves your money and support? And perhaps very simply, is it a song worth listening to?
It might seem excessive to ask all these questions, but if music is truly powerful, we would do well do guard our hearts and minds. We would do well to feed ourselves with truth. We would do well to not settle for good, but aim for the best. We would do well to honor God as much as we possibly can with our choice in music.
It can be done with all kinds of music. Just last night, I was playing from a wide and varied playlist. Here’s a peek into what came on this evening:
- A pop-style song about Jesus carrying me. I was reminded that He is with me and will carry me through whatever the future holds.
- A hymn about resting in Jesus. It reminded me to trust and rest, not strive, and what a faithful Savior I have.
- A loud song with a beat, declaring that in Christ, we are conquerors and the end of the story is that we win. It inspired me.
- A country love song, reminding me of the beauty and mystery of the love between a man and a woman. It encouraged me to look ahead with anticipation and not lose hope that God’s perfect plan for me might include that.
- A song asking God to show us what it means to follow Him. It challenged me to not just give lip-service, but truly pursue Him and obey His commandments.
- Lastly, a contemporary Christian song about how the treasure we seek is Jesus, not any earthly thing or accomplishment.
I walked away blessed. I walked away reminded of who my Savior is. I walked away encouraged. I walked away challenged. I walked away closer to God. That’s the kind of music I want to meditate on. You, too?
P.S. Share your favorite songs or artists in the comments! Let’s help each other find good music!