Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
How often do you say thanks? If you’re like me, you toss it around frequently, and often without thinking. Perhaps you say “thank you” if you really mean it or write “With gratitude” to sound more serious in correspondence. I know I do. Thankfulness is a cornerstone virtue, but I’m hard-pressed to exhibit its fullness with consistency. Personally, I need a significant reminder that simply saying thanks isn’t the same as being and becoming grateful.
The book of Colossians is an important letter to an early church that needed a crash course on godly truth and character. With great care, Paul refuted the false teachings that sought to steer believers away from following and reflecting Jesus Christ. To keep them from staying shallow or steering off course, he pressed them toward a life of genuine thankfulness.
Paul consistently and relentlessly drew the Colossian church back to God’s glory and goodness. He kept pointing them to Jesus Christ as the best example and source of eternal hope. Look closely, and you’ll see a notable shift in chapter three that draws Christians deeper into the nature and expression of godly gratitude. If we want to be and become grateful, verses 15-17 can serve as a wake-up call for you and me too.
After laying out an extensive wardrobe of virtues in Colossians 3:12-14, the letter points out how being like God’s Son transforms the body of believers. Then the instructions get more personal—be thankful (v. 15b), with gratitude in your hearts (v. 16b), giving thanks to God (v. 17b). Do you notice the thread there? We’re called to peace (v. 15a), to build one another up with God’s Word and godly worship (v. 16a), and to reflect and represent the character of Christ through and through (v. 17a). But all of this happens as we’re increasingly being and becoming grateful.
Four weeks from today, Thanksgiving will be in our rearview mirror. Perhaps today’s passage, and the reminder that our annual gratitude holiday is right around the corner, is just what we need to get more serious about growing in Christlike thankfulness between now and then.
Take note of how often you say (or don’t say) a variation of “thanks” throughout the day. Before you go to bed, reflect on when you meant it versus when you said it by force of habit. Then, talk to God about your current capacity for Christlike gratitude and invite Him to transform you as we head toward Thanksgiving.