And Be Thankful
The congregation of Christ Church has heard me say many times that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the food. I love to relax. I love to be with family and friends. But I love the reminder that Thanksgiving gives me to be thankful. I need that more and more every day. I am tempted to complain and to grumble when circumstances are not as I would like. I forget all the blessings I have been given every day. The Lord gives me so many blessings that I take them for granted as if I was owed blessing. So we must seize every reminder to be thankful that we can.
But it is not just a holiday that reminds us to be thankful. The Bible is full of commands to the believer in Christ to be thankful. One such passage is in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, chapter three. Like all of Paul’s letters, Colossians is divided into two parts: the first, in which Paul tells believers who they are in Christ (indicative), and the second, in which Paul tells believers how to live in light of who they are in Christ (imperative). In the section starting in chapter 3, verse 12, Paul tells Christians to live with love, forgiveness, and harmony. What is the key to this kind of life? Paul makes this clear starting in verse 15 – it is to be thankful.
Thankfulness must fill our minds and how we think. This is how “the peace of Christ rule[s] in your hearts.” We are to dwell on what Jesus has done for us, bringing us together “in one body.” The peace that comes from Christ is a restored relationship with the living God. Christ has made peace by the blood of His cross (1:19), making those who were alienated from and enemies to God (1:21) now His children. When we think about this great transaction, being brought from death to life, what should our reaction be? Paul is clear: “and be thankful.”
Paul then moves on to describe the emotional state of the Christian, using the medium of song. Singing is described in the Bible as a way for the believer to express emotion, but it is also closely linked to emotion even in societies and cultures around us. What happens when we sing? Paul writes that the word of Christ dwells in us and we teach each other. But do not miss the last phrase of verse 16: “with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Thankfulness should not only fill our minds, but it should also fill our emotions (hearts).
Finally, Paul turns to our wills, or our actions, in verse 17. He tells us that in “whatever you do,” you are to do it “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” This is not surprising, because the definition of a Christian is one who is the servant of Christ. But again, do not miss the end of Paul’s statement: “giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” We are to think thankfully, we are to feel thankful, and we are to act thankfully. With every part of our being, we are to acknowledge that we are the beneficiaries of God’s marvelous gracious provision.
What do you have to be thankful for today? If you aren’t sure, then I would advise you that you are not observant enough. Your life is full of things to be thankful for – the air you breathe, the food you have, the friends and family you have in your life, and even the challenges and trials that God is using to make you more and more like Jesus. So this Thanksgiving, enjoy a meal and your time with friends and family but do not forget to focus on the One who makes all your joy possible. Remember – and be thankful!