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Most of have been on the receiving end of something less than a heartfelt “thank you.” The words are said but the heart is just not in it. We know the “thanks” is only being offered dutifully. And, in a real and deep way, that obligatory “thank you” is rendered virtually thankless. This is not to say that every “Thank you very much” must come with the same kind of enthusiasm and delight. But this is to suggest that there is an “emotional” (or heartfelt) component to genuine thanksgiving. Without that–when thanks are given stoically–the heart is missing.

Thinking Paul’s thoughts after him in reading Colossians, I came to a reference to thanksgiving in chapter three:

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 richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:15-16)

In these two verses Paul uses two different words–words that are virtually synonymous–to call for thankfulness as part of the  appropriate expression that should flow from the life of a follower of Jesus. But what does he mean by this?

Does he have in mind a begrudging, “Well, thanks a lot!” (said with a subtle sneer) when we think of being part of the body? Did he imagine followers of Jesus offering an obligatory, “it’s time to sing so raise your voice” kind of song of thanksgiving? Would my infrequent and half-hearted and spur of the moment “Oh . . . uh . . . thanks Lord for this food we are about to eat” be recognized by Paul as the kind of thanksgiving Paul had in mind?

Earlier in the letter, Paul mentions these ideas. (All these passages have been touched on in earlier posts.)

[That you might be] joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For he rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:11-14)

Joyous thanksgiving, because God has done this amazing “transference.” We belong to a new kingdom by his doing, through the redemption that we have in the Son. Should our response be a dutiful, begrudging “uh . . . thank you”?

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of his body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Colossians 1:24)

Rejoicing even in sufferings for the opportunity to participate with Jesus in what he is doing for his body and for his glory. We have the chance to partner with Jesus. Should our response be a half-hearted, “well if I have to,” kind of “Thanks . . . I guess”?

. . . A true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:3-5)

Paul joyously celebrates the ongoing work that God is doing in the Colossians so that they remain stable in faith in Christ. Having been brought into life in Jesus we have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” in him. Should our response be a take it or leave it, “I guess this is a good thing,” kind of hollow “Thanks for that”?

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Colossians 2:6-7)

Having been given life through Jesus, having been placed “into” him by God’s good grace, having God continue his work in us to build us up and establish us in Jesus, we get to walk this out. Should our response be a kind of “well, if there is nothing else available I guess I can settle for that” superficial “I appreciate that”?

If we only saw. Saw what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. Saw what he brought us into and what he brought us out of . . . and bought us out of. Saw what God is doing in and for us through Jesus each and every day. Saw the amazing privilege of participating in life with Jesus. Saw what he intended for us in placing us in a body. Saw the riches of Jesus reflected in and declared in the Scriptures. If only was saw.

If only we saw, we would not give thanks stoically.

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One Comment

  1. Amen, amen, amen!


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