“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 3:15-17 (ESV)
Our daughter recently gave birth to our third grandson! How’s that for a lead sentence? We LOVE our grandsons and we are so thankful for them. We all have so much for which to be thankful. We feel thankfulness in our hearts, but how do we display thankfulness? What does it look like to be thankful?
In Colossians 3:1-14, the Apostle Paul gives great advice to the believers in Colossae. Then in verses 15-17, he continues his advice as he writes about thankfulness. He seems to give the readers a picture of thankfulness along with ways they could show their thankfulness to God directly. These same truths apply to believers today.
1. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart. In verse 15, Paul writes, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” The peace that Paul writes about is not a peace that we can create — it is the peace of God. Although we can’t create it, we are instructed to “let” it rule in our hearts. Having the peace of Christ in our hearts helps us to be thankful.
2. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you. Paul also writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Vs. 16). We must read the Word of Christ and allow it to shape our lives.
Notice that His Word is to dwell “in you.” Paul does not say among you, with you, around you, beside you or above you — he clearly says in you! Although God is concerned with what we do, He is more concerned with who we are! Who we are will have a major effect on what we do. If my doctor prescribes me a Z-Pack, it will only help me if I ingest it. When I ingest the antibiotic, it will affect my health. When the Word of God dwells in us, it will affect who we are and what we do.
3. Sing with thankfulness. Paul told the Colossians to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Vs. 17). We could debate what type of music to which the Apostle Paul was referring in this verse, but we would miss the point if we did. Paul told them to sing with thankfulness in their hearts to God regardless of the type of music being utilized. We should do the same. We should sing with thankfulness even if the music is not our favorite style.
4. Do everything in the name of Jesus. Paul continues with the instruction, “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” (Vs. 17). Paul is saying that our words and deeds should match. Combined, they are expressions of thankfulness.
I once preached a sermon entitled “Thanksgiving is Thanks-living.” For years, two of our close friends, Tommy and Dawn Reed, teased me about that title. As a matter of fact, they teased me about a lot of things through the years. I admit that it was a cheesy title, but it was precisely what I was trying to convey in my sermon and in this article. The best way for us to show thankfulness to God is by living each day surrendered to Him, following His Word and completing the tasks that He has given to us. We show our thankfulness by the way we live.
As a boy, I was given the tasks of mowing our yard and weed-eating the hillside behind our house. Sometimes I would get distracted by an impromptu basketball game, fishing excursion or bicycle adventure. I dreaded when Dad came home from work on those occasions because I had not completed my assigned tasks. But when I had finished my mowing and weed-eating, I could hardly wait for Dad to get home. I knew he would be pleased and would say, “Good job son, I’m really proud of you.”
My obedience showed him that I loved him and that I was thankful for all that he had done for me. Surely, the same is true for our heavenly Father.
May we consistently show Him that we love Him and that we are thankful for all of His blessings in our lives!
Steve Rice is team leader of Church Consulting and Revitalization for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.