Did you know that the book of Colossians is one of the most “thankful” books in the New Testament? The repeated emphasis on thanksgiving makes it so! Seven times in this short letter the Spirit of God reminds us through the writing of Paul that we should be continually grateful, even to the point of overflowing with thankfulness. But how is that possible? What would that look like?
Thank God for Other Christians in Your Life
Paul started out by saying this,
“We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints.” (Colossians 1:3-4)
Consider all the Christians around you who have built into your life and helped you not only know the Lord but also follow Him with your own life. Thank God for them.
Consider those you have watched grow in their faith over time, especially if you have had any part in their spiritual growth through teaching them or mentoring them.
Ask God to Fill You with Joyful Thanks for Your Salvation
Paul asked God to fill the Colossians with the knowledge of His will and spiritual understanding so that they,
“…may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)
Pleasing God in all respects includes joyfully giving thanks to Him for the wonderful salvation you have in Christ. God’s plan of redemption for humans included you. It was motivated by His great love for you and all people (Ephesians 2:4). His grace to you extended from that great love. You are the recipient of God’s gift of grace through your faith along in Christ alone. No works on your part are required other than to accept His gift and receive it. That alone should motivate you to joyfully give thanks every time you think of God’s grace to you and what you as one His saints can both now and forever enjoy.
Overflow with Thanks Because of His Work in You
As I was teaching a group of women this fall from the Healthy Living Bible Study of Colossians, I challenged each of us to choose a few verses to dwell upon all semester. Mine were Colossians 2:6-10. Verse 7 ends with the phrase “overflowing with thankfulness.”
“Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
When you recognize Christ Jesus as Lord of your life and commit yourself to being rooted and built up in all the truth about being “in Christ” taught in Colossians and the rest of the New Testament, you will become firm in your faith. You will have strong confidence in who you are in God’s eyes more than in the world’s eyes or your own eyes. You will have assurance that you are firmly held in Jesus’ hands, and He will not lose you (John 6:39). Thanksgiving will overflow from you because of His work in you and for you.
Thank God for the Peace of Christ Available to You
The next reference to thankfulness in Colossians is this:
“Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
His peace is available to you for all your relationships with those around you. The phrase “be in control” means “to function as an umpire.” I like how long-time DTS professor Tom Constable describes this:
When Christians need to make choices, the peace that Christ produces in our hearts should be a determining factor. We should choose what will result in peace between us and God and between us and one another, if such a course of action lies within God’s moral will. (Dr. Constable’s Notes on Colossians 2023 Edition)
We get help for our relationships from Christ Himself. For that we can be thankful.
Thank God for His Word That Teaches Us How to Please God
Paul gave more reasons to the Colossians and us about how to overflow with thankfulness.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace (gratitude, NIV) in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:16-17)
God’s Word is rich, relevant, and readily available for you to know and apply in your life. We can let it dwell in us richly. To dwell means to make its home there and dominate our thoughts and actions.
When we choose to follow Christ, obedient to His Word and living to please God with our words and actions, our hearts should respond with thankfulness to God our Father who makes this possible for us. Filling my heart and mind with the word of Christ (the Bible) and the peace of Christ will contribute to thankfulness as I set my heart and mind on things above (Colossians 3:12) where Christ is and remember that He will keep me rooted and built up in Him.
Thank God for the Privilege of Prayer
Paul wrote this near the end of his letter,
“Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)
Prayer is communion with God through conversation with Him and listening / watching for His answer. In the process of prayer, even in difficult times where we must stay alert, we are to do so with thanksgiving.
As Dr. Tom Constable puts it,
“When we pray we are calling on God to work, and we express our faith in Him. … The Christian who does not pray is demonstrating independence from God (cf. John 15:5). (Dr. Constable’s Notes on Colossians 2023 Edition)
How does an attitude of thankfulness make a difference in your prayer life? We can be demanding and ungrateful or submissive and grateful to our holy God for His goodness. Thankfulness is a protection against being deceived and rebellious.
Thank God for the Tough Times
Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians this often-quoted exhortation:
“Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I know all the biblical truths about bad things happening. We live in a fallen world due to Adam’s sin and things happen that are out of our control. Yet, when the unexpected painful thing happens, it can be a shock to my system. I am sure you have felt that way also.
I know beyond a doubt that God is good all the time (even in the tough times). He is good in different ways to different people. And He is good in that He blocks more pain than He allows into our lives. Even in the hardest, most difficult experiences, we can find something good for which to be thankful. Friends who comfort and support us. Neighbors who help us. Something God does not let happen though it could have. We have to make the choice to look for God’s goodness in the situation and be grateful for it.
If you are going through a difficult time right now, talk to Jesus about it. It is good to say this:
Our Lord is faithful. He will get you through it. He can help you to be thankful for the smallest good things. Through this, He strengthens your faith as you rely on Him more.
Let your heart overflow with thankfulness to our loving and gracious God for other Christians in your life, for your salvation, for His work in you, for the peace of Christ available to you, for His Word that teaches you how to please Him, for the privilege of prayer, and for the tough times. What a difference this can make in your life in those who surround you!
Healthy Living Bible Study of Colossians
online at Bible.org
download pdf at melanienewton.com (newer version)
get paperback from Amazon (newer version)