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How Does the Music We Listen to Affect Us?October 5, 2023
I was riding in a car with a younger friend and her pack of teen and pre-teen kids. One of the kids hollered, “Turn up the radio Mom, I love this song.” It was a Christian rock song singing about Jesus. I smiled and asked the Mom how she had gotten her kids to enjoy Christian music. She went into a passionate explanation of how the secular music was so full of sex, drugs, and other values that she was trying to guide her children away from that she finally decided that around her, at the very least, they would get Christian rock and nothing else.
I got to thinking about my music choices through my life, and the impact they had made. In earlier days I loved hard rock played on “shock-jock” radio stations. The sexual jokes made me laugh, and, even though I didn’t know what any of the songs were about, I loved the beat. As I grew in my faith, I defended my music choice with vigor, thinking that, whatever sinful behavior was being promoted, I could manage. Manage is the key word. The fact is we don’t manage sin well, except in our own minds. The deception allows us to make excuses for sinful behavior. In the end we struggle to hold on tight to what “I” want, focused on control of “my” life, and satisfying “my” desires. Please note the self-centeredness of that last statement.
I don’t believe God has a favorite kind of music, except all music that glorifies His name. The Bible has a whole book of songs, called Psalms, and many of those songs were written to worship God (see Psalm 96, 98, and 100 to name a few). Also, when King Saul was tormented by evil spirits, he would call on David to play the harp in order to soothe him (1 Samuel 16:14-23). The Jewish people used musical instruments to warn of danger (Nehemiah 4:20), and to surprise their enemies (Judges 7:16-22). In the New Testament, Paul encourages Christians to worship God with music (Ephesians 5:19). Worshipping God is the most common use of music in the Bible, but God encourages other uses of music as well.
I think the turning point for me was when I studied Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Much of the music and shock jock entertainment I enjoyed was not noble, right, pure, or any of the other descriptors on that list. Further, I had to honestly admit to myself that I was not experiencing peace with God as I continued to rebel against God, as “I” adamantly chose to entertain “myself” the way “I” wanted to.
I am still tempted to continue to listen to the radio when the conversation turns coarse. When I do, I usually have to struggle with thoughts and temptations that I do not always handle well. In stark contrast, when I think primarily about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy I experience a daily peace that I wouldn’t trade for all the sexual humor in the world.
As I close I want to encourage parents who are trying to raise Godly children. It is not an easy task in a world that we can often times allow to bombard our minds with so much immoral behavior. The battles are worth it. As you teach the precious children that God has given you your values, and help them to grow into Godly adults, all to the glory of God, according to His perfect plan for their lives.
What is your favorite kind of music? How do you feel after you have listened to a good dose of it? Will it pass the Philippians 4:8 test and help us focus on excellent and praiseworthy things? If you need to make life changes, what doors is God opening for you to help you enjoy music that glorifies His name? (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.com).