And Be Thankful
Welcome to November. Leaves are falling, clocks are falling back an hour (this Saturday/Sunday!), and Thanksgiving is coming. I want use this month’s Central Thoughts to focus on something that is supposed to be a ‘central’ component to our faith: gratitude.
One of my favorite moments in scripture comes in Colossians 3:15. It’s a longer verse, but it ends with just a short sentence fragment:
And be thankful.
Paul has just detailed the new life we have in Christ, how we have been ‘raised’ with him and our lives are actually secured with him, and how we are to, above all, ‘clothe yourselves in love’. Here’s how he continues…
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 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. 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.
And be thankful.
There it is, sticking out in the middle of that paragraph. It’s ‘short-and-to-the-point-ness’ stands out. I think of “And be thankful” as the baseline of who we are as Jesus followers…as people for whom our eyes have been opened to the grace of God in which we stand.
It’s our bottom line. It’s our default mode. It’s our ground. At least it should be.
But why isn’t it always? In part, as Paul says, it’s because we let other things ‘rule’ in our hearts besides the ‘peace of Christ’. We allow the worries of tomorrow to rule in our hearts. We allow the guilt of the past to rule there too. We allow resentment to rule there, as well as jealousy, fear, greed, anger, rage, malice, and on and on and on.
Why doesn’t the peace of Christ rule in your heart always? Take some time to think about it.
What does rule in your heart?
When the peace of Christ rules in us, it produces gratitude. We can ‘be thankful’ because we have his peace in us.
And so when the peace of Christ doesn’t rule in our hearts, we need to learn to find it again to fill us up. So where do we go for that?
Once again, Paul tells us: let the ‘message’ or the ‘word’ of Christ dwell in you richly.
What’s that? It’s the Gospel: the good news that in Christ, God is King. That Jesus, crucified and raised from the dead, is now alive and in charge of the world. That in and through Jesus, God has rescued us from the power of Death. That through Christ, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 2:19-20).
Let that word dwell in you richly.
As we sing together, as we sing on our own, as we sing in our hearts – we get to be reminded of this good news of Christ, which when it’s in us, it brings his peace to rule. And then, as you go, whatever you do – with your words or with your actions – do it all in his name, giving him thanks with your entire life. Or as Paul put it:
And be thankful.
So as we kick off this month of Thanksgiving, reflect on what you have to be thankful for – and thank God for it. Take intentional time today, this week, this month to thank God. Take Paul’s advice from Colossians 4:2:
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.
So this month, ‘keep alert’ in prayer with thanksgiving. Be generous with being thankful. Be quick to be thankful. Be ready to be thankful. And above all, be thankful.