Do Lyrics Matter?

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Do Lyrics Matter?

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Have you ever noticed someone singing along with a song while working or driving? Or have you found yourself humming with a tune being piped over a speaker at a mall or while being placed on hold for a telephone call? Songs and music can dance through our heads without us even being aware that we are "tuned" in.

We are constantly bombarded with sounds, and it's easy to lock onto a stream of consciousness without screening it for appropriateness. Sounds, music, voices, radio, even television background sounds all leave an imprint on our psyche.

When we hear certain themes over and over again, we can incorporate them into our subconscious—even ideas that can be and often are quite damaging. Is it possible that we can listen to lyrics wrapped in the cadence of powerful, rhythmic music and begin to believe a lie—or be persuaded to follow a path that leads to sin and rebellion?

Music can be a powerful motivator and mood enhancer. One band clearly boasts of this power in the song "Impact":

"I make an impact on lives
Through truth as well as lies
I overcome your eyes
And leave an etched memory forever…
I lead people everyday
Always in the correct way
Never lead astray
And leave an etched memory forever…"

Impact indeed (though please understand that I'm in no way endorsing this particular music).

Regrettably, some of the most successful artists can get pretty mixed up about the messages they send their audiences. Britney Spears, whose sad decline is often front-page news, began her musical career as a young and energetic talent, but her life was filled with contradiction. Us Magazine is credited with the following comment on Spears' music, which should have the listener concerned: "She's still an eerie contradiction: a hypersexual Cinderella trying to combine Disney innocence with a touch of old-fashioned smut" ( This is reflected in not just her image but often her lyrics.

Shouldn't a Christian be wary when it comes to listening to her songs? Could it be as wrong to sing a lie as to live it? What you listen to will affect your mood, your mind and, ultimately, your actions. Christ said His disciples would be set apart by His Word. God's Word is truth (John 17:17). Why would a Christian allow himself to be teased and tempted to fantasize about what is not in his or her best interest?

Words can help move us to action and lead us toward a fulfilling and rewarding life or tempt us to sin. Concepts that uphold godly values can inspire and motivate us to make a difference in the world and make a difference in our own lives.

The apostle Paul advised, "Do not take overmuch wine by which one may be overcome, but be full of the Spirit; joining with one another in holy songs of praise and of the Spirit, using your voice in songs and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:18-19, Bible in Basic English).

God has given us emotions to make our lives fuller and help us deal with a wide range of experiences. We have to use self-control to be sure we don't allow a concept that can be harmful to be etched in our minds. We have to guard our hearts and our minds and beware of the temptation to follow the path leading to darkness.

If you want to be successful and positive, you must fill your mind with things that are encouraging and true. Many songs are positive and motivate you to grow toward your potential as part of God's family. Uplifting songs that bring out the correct emotions are ideal.

Scripture advises: "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. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:16-17).

This doesn't mean you have to listen to church music all day. Plenty of fun, upbeat songs have good lyrics. But often the beat and the music dominate the song, and it is easy to lose the message that the artist is actually communicating in the words. It takes effort to really hear the lyrics and decide if you want that message massaging your brain.

King David loved music and so does God. God created music and instructed songs to be sung in the temple. Angels shouted for joy when God created the earth (Job 38:7). We can only imagine the beauty and clarity of the message and the powerful harmony and precision of the melodies that must be performed around God's throne.

The next time you download a new song on your iPod or tune in your favorite radio station, ask yourself if you really want those lyrics from the latest hit song to invade your mind. Are they lyrics you can enjoy and agree with? Remember—thinking vertically takes effort. Enjoy your music, but watch out for the hidden messages that might affect you more than you know. VT