Paul uses the phrase ‘excel still more’ on two separate occasions in his book to the church in Thessalonica. In the fourth chapter of 1st Thessalonians, Paul writes in the first verse,

“…we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.

Then, within a matter of sentences, he writes of their love for one another. Again, he uses the same verbiage as he writes, “But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more…” Perhaps we should identify what it means for us to excel in our walk with Christ. How can we excel in our love for each other? To be one who excels is to ‘do better, to surpass what is being (has been) done.’ If we are to excel in our worship, the indication is for us to ‘do better.’ So, how do you and I excel in our worship? True worship, as Jesus defined it in John 4, is to be done in spirit and in truth. We know this and we dedicated every first day of the week to do just that. My question here is, are we excelling in our worship? Do we strive to ‘do better’ as we come together to worship? Studying God’s word, reflecting on Christ’s sacrifice, and yes…the songs of praise and exhortation we are singing, are we constantly trying to surpass what we have done in the past?

If you know me, you know I love to sing songs of praise to God! Like you, there are some songs that I consider to be my favorites. We all have favorites and that’s good. To be honest, there’s not a time in my life that I don’t remember singing hymns. It was how I was raised, and it has always been a part of my life.

He is My Everything,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “We Praise Thee, O God” are all songs I remember singing from an early age. When my wife and I married in August of 1989, we even had a spiritual song as our recessional song, “God Be With You Til We Meet Again.” For years we would sing “I Come to the Garden Alone” to our children as they were going to sleep. A practice I learned from the lap of my grandmother, and I’m thankful to say that my children are passing on to their children. Why? To me, the reason is obvious: there is no better way to close your day than to put on your heart “…the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding.”Philippians 4:7. Yes, it’s a song reflecting Christ’s last hours in the Garden of Gethsemane, but it also reminds us to walk with Him. According to Paul, our walk is something in which we are to excel still more!

Hymns and spiritual songs are intended to praise God. We should sing to teach valuable lessons and stir the hearts of those listening. Singing involves at least three basic elements of our bodies: our hearts, our minds, and our voices (our mouths). Would we use all three to bring glory to Him and edification to His people? We must continue to do better in our praise and worship. We are called to EXCEL STILL MORE when it comes to true worship!

Let’s look at the blessings we find in singing songs of praise. Since the Lord seeks those who will worship Him to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), we must ask ourselves one basic question; “What is God’s will for us as we worship Him in song?”

We must study the New Testament to learn the truth about Christian worship in song. A study of the Old Testament will show you what God expects under the Old Law; thus, a study of the New Testament gives what God has for us under the New Covenant.

Ephesians 5:17-21 states,

‘Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation (moral looseness); but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in fear of God.’

In Romans 15:5-9, Paul speaks of the Gentiles glorifying God and emphasizes how a congregation should be glorifying God. Notice Paul’s words from this passage in Romans,

“…so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…I will give praise to Thee among the Gentiles, and I will sing to Thy name.”

In short, the following are New Testament passages that reference singing praises to God:

  • Matthew 26:30…Jesus and His disciples after the Lord’s supper
  • Acts 16:25…Paul and Silas, at midnight, are in jail with their feet in stock.
  • Romans 15…Noted above
  • I Corinthians 14:15 & 26… “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the mind also…What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”
  • Colossians 3:16…an emphasis on singing songs that teach and admonish.

Hebrews 2:12 & 13:15…quoting Psalm 22

“…in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.”) and “…let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

James 5:13…a clear directive,

“…Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.”

Each example listed from the New Testament describes worship for the Christian as one that emphasizes verbal communication:

  • Singing
  • Speaking
  • Teaching
  • Admonishing
  • Making melody with your hearts
  • Confessing
  • Giving thanks
  • Proclaiming
  • The fruit of our lips.

We have been called to worship from our hearts, minds, and voices (the fruit of lips.) When we see that our worship is not about us, but about our Father, it becomes clear how we must have a heart to do better. We must strive to surpass what we’ve always done to offer in sacrifice of praise. Let us be diligent, as God designed, to use our hearts, our minds, and our voices as we long to excel still more in our worship. When we worship, we know that our entire body should be focused on giving God all the glory. Next time you bow your heart to worship, let me encourage you to give God your adoration! To give Him a more focused praise and worship that will excel still more…

Myron Bruce
Website | + posts

Myron Bruce and his wife Vicki were married in 1989, and for 14 years, he served as a classroom teacher and administrator at both the elementary and secondary levels. In 2003, they moved their family from Greeley, Colorado, to Richardson, Texas, where Myron began serving in the ministry. After 20 years in the ministry, working in Texas and Oklahoma, Myron and Vicki have three grown children with their own families. They also have been blessed with three (soon to be four) grandchildren.

Myron has been active in the Lord’s church from an early age. Blessed to work ‘in the vineyard of the Lord,’ perhaps the most gratifying area of service has been in song leading. Therefore, in 2011, his deepest aspiration reached a milestone as he began the development of the seminar, “Singing with the Spirit.” A seminar where churches are taught how better to understand the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Myron’s objective in these sessions is to bring individual worshippers closer to the throne of God.