Give Thanks: A Survey of Colossians
As Christians there are certain virtues that should cause us to stand out from the world around us. Jesus made it clear that the primary characteristic that should mark us is love. He said that the world will recognize us as His disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35).
Another virtue that should cause us to stand out – but that is often lacking – is that of gratitude. As Christians we have been given so much in Christ, and yet we often fall in line with the world in grumbling and complaining. But as those who have been brought into relationship with Christ, we should be, of all people, the most overt in our thanksgiving.
As Paul writes to the Colossians there is a thread that runs throughout: Seven times in this short letter Paul makes reference to giving thanks. As he writes to this young church he makes this clear: one of the defining attributes of being in Christ is being a person of thanks to God.
We should give thanks to God for evidences of faith in the lives of others (1:3-5)
- The first reference to giving thanks in the letter comes from the example of Paul. As he heard of the evidences of faith in the lives of the Colossians his response was to give thanks to God.
- Application: How often do you take time to thank God for the fruits of faith that you see in the lives of those around you? As brothers and sisters in Christ we should rejoice and thank God when we see one another demonstrating trust in God and living for Him.
We should give thanks to God for His work of salvation in our own lives (1:12-14)
- As Paul prays for the Colossians he prays that they would walk worthy of the Lord and be fully pleasing to Him. One of the characteristics that he lists of those who ‘walk worthy’ is that of giving thanks; specifically, giving thanks for the work of God in salvation.
- Application: If we truly understand the magnitude of what God did in saving us, we should never be able to stop giving thanks. In light of all that He has done we should be overwhelmed with gratitude!
We should give thanks to God because it is a natural outworking of our position in Christ (2:6-7)
- As Paul warns the Colossians against false teachers he gives them this admonition: As you have received Christ, so walk in Him. In part, the “walk” of the Christian is characterized by abounding in thanksgiving.
- Application: If we are in Christ giving thanks should be a natural part how we live. As those who are in Him, and who are continuing to grow in Him thanksgiving should be an ordinary and ongoing response.
We should give thanks to God for the joy of living in peace and unity with the people of God (3:12-15)
- In chapter 3 Paul describes how the church should function and how we should interact with one another. What is clear is that God equips His church to live in unity; this is a reason for thanksgiving.
- Application: How often do you thank God for all that He has done to make unity possible? It is because of the cross of Christ that peace can rule and we can live as ‘One in Him.’
We should give thanks to God for experiences of true Christian fellowship (3:16)
- In the context of chapter 3 Paul is talking about the church – as we live and worship together the Word of God should be central. We should people of the Word of God and we should interact with one another using the Word of God (teaching, admonishing, singing with and to one another).
- Application: How thankful are you for the gift of ‘Word-centered’ fellowship? We should be quick to thank God for this good gift.
We should thank God for the opportunity of living for the Glory of God (3:17)
- 3:17 is a broad verse that calls us to do all things to the glory of God; all our words and all of our actions should be done ‘in His Name,’ with thanks.
- Application: Our nature is to live for ourselves and for our own glory, but as those who are in Christ we have the joy of living for something greater – living for Him. Paul says, as we live for Him we should do so with thanks. How thankful are you for the opportunity and power to live for His glory?
We should give thanks to God that He hears and answers our prayers (4:2)
- As Paul gives some final instructions on what it looks like to live as those who are in Christ he tells the Colossians to be constant in prayer and to wait for God’s answer with thanksgiving. We can pray and wait with thanksgiving because we know that He hears us and that He will answer according to His will.