I have been enjoying  Paul’s letter to the Colossians for the last month or so, and the idea of thanks, thankfulness and gratitude keeps popping up. Seven times in four chapters.  Some say Philippians is a book whose theme is joy, because the words joy and rejoice are prominent.  I think it’s safe to say Colossians is a book whose theme is thanks.  See what you think.

Colossians 1:3
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people.

A Good Start

Paul starts most of his letters with a word or prayer of thanksgiving for the recipients, and the Christians in the church in Colossae were no exception. Paul had never visited that church, but they had a great reputation for their faith in Jesus and for loving God’s people. What if we started everday with a prayer of thanks for God’s people? All of God’s people – even those we don’t get along with, those who think differently than we do, those who offend us. Paul had to deal with all those types in his letter to the Corinthians, but he starts his letter to them by saying, “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” A great way to start a letter and a day.

1:12
(We are) giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

Joyful Thanks

Paul is not just thankful, but for the second time in his prayer, he (and Timothy) give joyful thanks to the Father. He is full of joy as he gives thanks because he knows that these believers in Colossae, whom he has never met, are in the same boat with him with regards to being graciously chosen by God to share in the inheritance and to be brought into the kingdom of light. Certainly something to give joyful thanks about.

2:6-7
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Overflowing With Thankfulness

First Paul gives thanks, then expresses joyful thanks, and this escalates to overflowing thankfulness. Considering a persons life in Christ, rooted in Christ, built up in Christ, and strengthened in the faith, it should be a natural reaction to overflow with thankfulness. I think of water being poured into a glass, and I have to ask myself, what is my level of thankfulness. Is it about 1/3, 2/3, full, or overflowing? Too many times I have to say 1/3 or 2/3. On a good day it may be full. God help me to truly realize the blessings of a life lived in Christ, and to overflow with thankfulness.

(the peace of Christ, the message of Christ, the name of Christ)

3:15

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Thankful For the Peace

God gives a peace that passes all understanding to those who invite God to sit on the throne of their life. He gives that peace so that we can enjoy personal contentment, but more importantly, to enjoy peace with members in our communities of faith. The peace He gives is more than just the absence of conflict. It is a sense of completeness, wholeness, health, safety, tranquility, rest, prosperity, and harmony. This extends from the individual to the entire community of Christ. Psalm 133 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in harmony.” Truly something to be thankful for.

3:16
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.

Grateful Hearts
When the message of Christ dwells richly in individual hearts and corporately in the community of faith, then singing, and shouts for joy full of gratitude will be heard. A thankful heart is a happy heart.

3:17

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.

Do it All
Have you got something to say? Then say every word in the name of the Lord Jesus, as if He were saying it through you. Have you got something to do? Then make every action count, as if Christ were working through you. It’s amazing that God has chosen any of us to cooperate with Him in building the kingdom with our words and deeds. Thank you God for allowing us to partner with you with our lips and with with our hands in making this world a better place.

4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

A great Ending
Paul set the example in the first chapter. He prayed for the Colossians. He thanked God for them. Paul was ever watchful, alert for stories of Christ followers living lives of faith, hope and love. He heard about these Colossian Christians and was grateful for their lives, their words and their works. Now in the last chapter, Paul admonishes them to follow his example by being devoted to prayer, watching for good gifts from a gracious God, and being thankful.

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