As believers, we should not only be seasonally thankful but ever thankful. We can demonstrate our thanks to the Lord by obeying His Word, offering prayers of gratitude, and expressing appreciation to one another. But another means we have is that we can sing our thanks. The Apostle Paul told the church at Colossae:
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)
On a Saturday afternoon recently, I was invited by the director of the Pittsburgh Gospel Chorale, Dr. Herbert Jones, to be a special guest at their concert at a historic African-American Baptist church in the city. He actually asked me to take center stage in the middle of the concert. Now, I’ve tried to relate this to my children in such a way that is sounds like I was asked to sing. But they know better! Dr. Jones just actually asked me to give a greeting on behalf of Reformed Presbyterian Theologically Seminary.
This wonderful concert expressed joy and wonder for Christ’s salvation from beginning to end that was off the charts. While listening and watching, I was reminded of something my junior high school choir director would often tell us, "Don't only sing with your voices. Sing with your faces." That's what this choir was doing.
Though I know there's a difference between a choral concert where people are performing and a worship service, I still think we can learn from our brothers in other settings by growing in our expressions of gratitude and joy as we sing. In the Presbyterian churches I frequent, as a preacher I stand before congregations while they sing. I note that their overall countenance often does not match the words. They may be singing "Shout for joy unto the Lord," but it sure does not look like it!
So how do you sing with thankfulness? Though much more could be said about this topic, I want to stress one sure-fired way to do so. It's pretty simple. Every time you step in the sanctuary to worship and sing, remember your salvation.
For the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit planned your salvation in their eternal heaven and rejoice over this supreme act of love! An angelic choir in heaven bursts forth in praise every time God's plan is executed and another sinner is saved! The Triune God has a marriage supper awaiting us when the number of the elect is fulfilled!
So never tire of marveling over how the Lord elected you from all eternity to be His chosen one (Col. 3:12)! Recall continually the incredible holy love that He has for His people, and how He wants that exhibited in the church (Col. 2:12-14)! Marvel again and again over the peace He has brought to you in Christ - He tells you "to be thankful" for it (Col. 3:15)! Go to worship to fulfill your duty "to teach and admonish" your brothers and sisters with Christ's Word so they remember His salvation as well!
Far better than singing a center stage solo is standing in the congregational choir with my brothers and sister in Christ and singing with thankfulness for our great salvation! If rivers are to clap their hands and mountains sing together for joy over the Lord's salvation (Ps. 98:8), how our voices should ring and faces sing as those who are heaven-bound!