DO YOU SHOUT JOYFULLY?
by Wayne S. Walker
“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises” (Psalm 98:4). If you are walking by a friend’s house and see that it is on fire, do you stay quietly on the sidewalk and whisper “fire” as softly as you can? No, you run up to the house, beat on the door, and shout “FIRE!” at the top of your lungs. When the people who appear on television game shows win the grand prize, say a new car or a trip around the world or $100,000, do they usually stand by nonchalantly and just say, “Oh, that’s nice”? No, most people jump up and down and shout, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”
Of course, some people are more outwardly emotional than others, but all of us get excited about some things, and when we do we tend to shout. Now, there is nothing wrong with shouting “Fire” to someone in a burning building or shouting with glee when we have won a prize. However, for Christians, there is something even more important to shout about. Some religious organizations are known for shouting in their services. I have been in such assemblies where everyone prayed out loud at the same time, shouting as vociferously as possible. That is mere confusion, not doing things decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40).
At the same time, in order to avoid “emotionalism,” some brethren have swung to the other extreme and show almost no emotion at all in their worship. We must worship in spirit as well as in truth (John 4:24). To worship in spirit involves both the right attitude of reverence and awe toward God and also acting with zeal and enthusiasm. One way in which we express our joy toward God is singing (James 5:13). I have been in some assemblies of brethren where it almost seems as if everyone is trying to sing as softly as possible. While we surely want to do all things decently and in order, the Psalmist does tell us to “shout joyfully to the Lord…and sing praises,” not “make a half-hearted squeak”!