With the Thanksgiving holiday around the corner, we have a culturally presented opportunity to reflect on thankfulness. This is a moment to celebrate, worship, give thanks, and reflect on the amazing work of Christ that has been accomplished to bring us into his family. Let's take a look at what Paul writes in Colossians chapter three.
Paul is writing this letter to a church in Colossae, in modern-day Turkey, from Prison in Rome. He is far removed from them, but is commending them and instructing them in this new life of rescue into the kingdom of God (Colossians 1). One of his commands to the church comes in chapter three, where he says to put on the new self. As a church we've studied the letter of Ephesians, so this language should be pretty familiar. In Paul's instruction to the church, we have some lessons of what a thankful life looks like.
The premise is, we thanks God / worship God / praise God because of God's generous and gracious act of bring us into his family. One of our distinctives as a Christian people is to be marked by a life of thankfulness.
So let's explore how Paul says we should be thankful:
1. KNOW OUR IDENTITY
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4, ESV)
We are a redeemed, saved, rescued, reconciled people and as ambassadors on earth for Christ, we are to be thinking and setting our minds on the kingdom of God and the reality that we are citizens of that kingdom, no longer citizens of the domain of darkness.
2. REALIZE OUR PAST
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:5-11, ESV)
We cannot fully appreciate and live int he good news if we have no comprehension of the bad news. This is the gospel: that we we're dead people, separated from God following the ways of this world, and God rescued us and set us free from the bondage of sin and dead.
3. CELEBRATE OUR FUTURE
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17, ESV)
We are saved for God's glory. God is all about his glory. God get's glory when we worship him, praise him, and yes, thank him. Over and over God calls us to not forget what he has done. Reaching all the way back to the Israelites, one of his self-given descriptors is the God who brought them out of slavery.
God wants our praise, worship and thanks.
He deserves it, even when we do not believe that is so.
We thank God because of his generous, gracious and merciful character. That same character that required perfect justice for us to be brought into his family. That same character that sent his son to pay our price of admission in his family, that we might experience his grace.