Col. 3:16. 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.
Today’s verse is a favorite of mine.
The only way to have the Word of Christ dwelling in us is to read it, study it, memorize it. It should be a daily part of every believer’s life. We can never plumb the depths of His Word, not in a lifetime, and it never becomes stale.
It is to dwell in us richly, in all wisdom. Deeply, sincerely, in a way that blesses others, we are to gain wisdom from the Word. We are to share the Word with others in teaching each other, and admonishing each other. To admonish is to reprove gently, to warn. Such is to come not just from the pulpit, but among the members of the body when one sees a need. It is to be done with wisdom and grace, so that it may be received in the same spirit. Criticism is not the same as admonishment. God never tells us to go around being critical of each other.
Sometimes we can admonish one another in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs. It is difficult to know if there is truly any difference among those three things. Most commentators I’ve read believe it is written this way for emphasis rather than for dividing music into categories.
In Bible college, I took a course in hymnology. We studied the history of church music, and the way it evolved from the earliest records of written music, to the chants and liturgical music in the early church, to what we knew (this was in the 1960’s) as hymns and gospel songs. Our teacher said that there IS a difference between the two. A hymn is about God; Who He is, what He has done. Think of songs like “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” or “For the Beauty of the Earth.”
A gospel song is about our reaction to God. There are so many! Think of “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!” or “I Love to Tell the Story of Unseen Things Above!”
When we sing, we are to do so with grace in our hearts to the Lord. We sing, not for our own glory, but for His. He gave us music. He gave us the talent to play instruments, to write music, to sing to His glory. Let it always be with joy in our hearts, with love for fellow believers, with the sheer joy of the gift of music.
Here’s someone who understands all that: