In Colossians 3:15-17, Paul urges his readers to be thankful three times: in v15 ‘and be thankful’; in v16 ‘with gratitude’; and in v17 ‘giving thanks’. This begs the question: why is being thankful so important to Paul? What is it about gratitude that is so essential in our lives?
One false notion many Christians have is that gratitude is required – even demanded – by God, and that our ingratitude will be punished. But in truth, God wants nothing for himself. God is not like us. He is complete in himself. And as one who loves genuinely, he demands nothing in return. He freely gives to us without any strings. And yet, the only proper response is gratitude and thanksgiving.
The other false view is that thanksgiving is the secret ingredient needed for getting our prayers answered. But if we make offering thanks to God a way to get what we want, then we are distorting Paul’s message – that we can be thankful for a God who listens.
When Paul urges the Colossians to be thankful three times, each is for a different reason. The first is that God has chosen us: ‘as members of one body you were called to peace: and be thankful.’ How amazing is that? God chose you! You are now a member of God’s family, rescued and adopted.
Second, the word of Christ transforms our hearts with the truth of the gospel, leading us to sing ‘with gratitude in our hearts to God’. The gospel – which is never-ending and always new – is a gift we should always be grateful for.
The third gift we are to be thankful for is, well, everything! Paul writes: ‘Whatever you do… do it all… giving thanks to God.’ We live in the strong and unshakeable kingdom of God, where resources are plentiful. Our lives are a gift to be savoured, to be thankful for.
All of life is a gift – undeserved but given by a loving God who does not demand my thanks, but for whom thanks and praise are the only right and good responses.
Gracious Abba, thank you for choosing me, and bringing me into your family. Thank you for the gospel, the good news that has transformed my life. And thank you for everything good and perfect in my life. All of it is a gift that comes from you. May I live with a constant attitude of gratitude each day. Amen.
How would you rate yourself in terms of your ability to see everything as a gift from God?