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The Monthly Bread Archives

"Singing With Grace in Your Heart"
(Songs of Grace)

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.

As often as the hymn "Amazing Grace" has been sung, it has always struck me how little we realize that singing about grace is not the same as singing with it in heart. There can be the performance aspect of it, and yet still lack the true expression that grace affords us when reflected out from the "kardia" thoughts and feelings, the heart. This rendition "about grace" is commonly heard among the world of organized religion and the entertainment industry. Sadly, it is communicated as a concert to be enjoyed rather than an experience with God. Because there is this lack of personal knowledge, it sings audibly with natural sound, but without a spiritual voice distinctly heard by the inner-man.

"Heart singing", as I like to call it, is only possible when God living in us is permitted to work and refine us with His beauty. This word for grace in the greek language, according to Strong's, is "Charis," which means "a gracious manner or act, especially the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life, including gratefulness." In other words, as we commune in the beauty of His presence, it inspires our heart and we are then enabled to reflect it in our living. This change of heart will also cause us to worship God out of appreciation for all He has done in and through us. Thus, we become a visible testimony to inspire others around us.

1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me WAS NOT WITHOUT EFFECT. ... (NIV)

I am reminded of a story a friend of mine once told me concerning a certain church where he was invited to minister. This fellowship did not know how to worship God very well, and not only was the song service dry but very heavy-hearted as an atmosphere for preaching. He determined to close his eyes and began to worship the Lord with all his might. As his heart swelled in gratefulness toward the Lord, he could sense that people around him began to enter in. Opening his eyes he was surprised to find others looking intently into his face, moved with tears. Could it be possible that one worshipper alone could change the spiritual climate of a church by singing with grace in his or her heart? It sounds contagious to me and I think it is a very good thing in serving the needs of others.

My friend's story has a profound lesson to be learned for both songleader and songwriter alike, in that it should be noted that the direction of the grace song is first sung to the Lord before it ever becomes ministry to people. Because it finds an audience with God, it finds a way into people's lives. " As I have so often told our choir in the church: "We are worshippers first and musicians/singers second".

Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (KJV)

Webster's dictionary defines grace as "a disposition to benefit or serve another." It also means "an elegance and beauty of movement or expression." What could be more helpful in serving one another, than a beautiful move of the Holy spirit expressing the "song of the Lord" through each of us. The wheel within the wheel truly turns as the motions of the spirit move within the activities of man.

Familiar to musicians in music notation is the term known as "grace notes." They are slight and subtle tones used in a variety of ways to adorn, decorate, or embellish the melody line, making it to flow more smoothly and beautifully. As christians, we too can be the grace note in God's song, decorating, embellishing and articulating His gracious nature as a theme communicated to the world.

The most important thing realized about the grace song is that what it does is a by-product of what it is. Grace, by nature, is a worker desiring to give of itself and serve relentlessly, but only as it is first realized personally. The heart song, is written in spirit with the hand of God upon the tablet of our own being before it ever has the outlet to become the expression of what God is like. Just as the moon is dependant upon the sun for reflection of light, so is man secondary in his role to reflect this gracious likeness of God. One cannot produce it himself, nor can he hope to imitate it. The spirit of God must initiate an inner working of grace to change and discipline us for the glory of God's purpose.

In some charismatic circles of our day, the irony is that some services seem to resemble "charismania" more than anything else. But one has to ask, is this what God intended as a reflection of himself; is this the kind of charisma that He desires His people to know and emulate? The testimony should not be something weird but instead a blessing that is fragrant with Christ. Reaching out to the lost with insanity attracts no one, but a kind and gracious nature that mirrors the Father's heart in the face of Christ is a true representation of who He is and what we can be as ambassadors for Him.

Finally, in Col 3:16, we are shown that these three songs forms: the Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs are to be instruments of teaching and admonishing. The source of this originates in the abiding word of God, when it is allowed to RICHLY dwell in us and is permitted to sink down deep into our ears and heart. Much could be said on this topic alone but just for grace's sake, let me quickly say that these song forms are vehicles for body ministry one to another which have to do with instruction and warning. Interestingly enough, I have noticed the message oriented song in our day to be unpopular out of fear of being too offensive. One must realize however, that the "teaching song" sung in grace serves to impart a heart knowledge free of headiness, and this is all important for the abiding word to nourish us in spirit.

As for the admonishing aspect in song, which means "a calling attention to, to caution, or to give mild rebuke or warning," this would seem to indicate a song of a more prophetic nature which is almost unheard of today, but which I believe is about to rise again and come to the forefront.

Recapitulating what I said earlier: to sing with grace, we must be under it and it must be in us. How does one hear it; what does it sound like? To those who have ears to hear they will learn what spiritual beauty sounds like and will in turn, experience the tangible evidence of it as it flows from a gracious heart. The bible says that "... no ear has heard ... what God has prepared for those who love him." The natural ear can never hope to hear what grace has unless it is heard from a basis of God's love. To do this grace singing, the process begins with the Lord and ends with Him. This is as it should be, for He is the alpha and the omega on every level of our spiritual journey.

Prov 22:11 He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend. (Kjv)