I’ve never had a talent for playing instruments. My voice isn’t all that great. In fact, I’m one of the least musical people you’ll ever meet.
However, I love listening to music. While I’m getting ready in the morning, doing homework, and driving in the car… I always have music playing. Even now, as I write this post, I’m sitting outside with music playing on my phone in the background.
A couple of months ago, my parents decided that all of us needed to recognize an idol in our life and completely give it up for a time. Whatever time we normally spent devoting to this “idol” would be replaced with something more profitable and God-honoring.
For my sisters and me, that idol was music. Not just that we had let music become a constant distraction from other, more important things, but we had also begun to place secular music above Christian music. Rather than worshipping Christ through lyrics that proclaimed the gospel, we had, in a way, begun to worship secular musicians and their popular hits. So for two weeks, we gave up secular music and replaced it with solely Christian music.
And I can honestly say that those two weeks changed me.
After only a few days without secular music, I clearly saw how much of an idol it had become in my life. How much I had come to place it above time with God.
At the end of those two weeks, I had grown to love and crave worship in a way I never had before.
This experience opened my eyes. It showed me how easily we’re shaped by the things we surround ourselves with, and how important it is to monitor what we listen to, watch, and read.
If there’s one key takeaway I learned, it’s that listening to secular music isn’t bad. In fact, a lot of secular music is amazing. But…you can’t become passive. You can’t let the music you listen to blind you to sin. Secular music should never be placed above worship and the time you spend with God. It should not desensitize you to sin and the ungodly ways of this world.
If you’re unsure whether the secular music you listen to has become an idol in your life, I encourage you to ask yourself these three questions:
1. How is the music I’m listening to shaping my thoughts?
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
If the music you’re listening to is encouraging ungodly thoughts, then you shouldn’t be listening to it. In fact, it might be not only the music that’s encouraging ungodly thoughts. The album art or character of the artists can too. Seek to fill your mind with pure, godly things.
2. How is the music I’m listening to shaping my feelings?
Music makes us feel. It shapes our hearts and emotions, and it can make our mood change drastically within minutes.
If the music you’re listening to is promoting you to feel anger, jealousy, hate, dissatisfaction with your life, or even depression, then it most likely isn’t encouraging you to live in a manner pleasing to God.
We act on what we feel. If the music we’re listening to fosters ungodly feelings, then it will inevitably cause sinful behavior. Keep this in mind when creating your next Spotify playlist or queuing up music in the car.
3. Is the music I’m listening to pulling me away from more important things (family, friends, time with the Lord)?
I’ll be the first to admit that my AirPods have blocked out numerous family conversations and taken away from many hours when I could be making memories. I’m constantly watching myself to make sure I don’t drift into singular, individualized time listening to music when I’m surrounded by family and friends. It takes discipline, but making an effort to be present with others is worth it and even necessary.
How many times have you walked through a store and seen people with earbuds in, lost in their music and hardly noticing their surroundings? You can’t help but feel bad for them, right? They’re missing out on life. They’re missing out on what God has given them.
God has given us so many gifts, and we should enjoy them. In fact, taking part in his gifts is a form of worship. If music is distracting us from the gifts God has given us–and especially if it is distracting us from worshipping and spending time with him–then it has most likely become an idol.
Now before I conclude, I want to say one thing: All music is a gift from God, even secular music. Unbelievers who create beautiful music have been gifted by God with a talent. Yes, some of them may distort what God has given them. They may use their gifts to create ungodly things. But we can appreciate music even from secular artists that are not sinful or evil in nature because we can see the beauty of God’s creation in their work.
Despite this, we can’t let secular music lead us to become passive. We can’t let it blind us to sin. Just like all good things, music can be abused and used wrongly. But when used to glorify and worship God, it is a truly beautiful thing. Click To Tweet
Next time you listen to music, keep in mind the way it makes you think and feel. Is it distracting you from more important things? If it is, then I highly encourage you to do what I did: Give it up for two weeks. Replace it with something more worthwhile. Trust me, you will walk away from those two weeks with opened eyes and a new perspective. You won’t regret it.