Can we say ‘thank you’ for days on a calendar? By that I mean, holi-days on the calendar?
They seem to get us back to centre. They remind us of what’s important. They force us to rest?
Holidays have a purpose…to re-centre us…
- Labour Day (grateful for the job you have)
- Christmas (reminded that there is a bigger story to find yourself in)
- New Years (a finish and a start line)
- Family Day (self explanatory)
- Thanksgiving (also self explanatory)
If someone were to ask…what defines you? What describes your faith…what’s the main characteristic of your life in Christ?
In Philippians 4:11 we read some very important words. If you’re a Christ follower or not, these words can change your life. Paul says, “I’ve learned to be content in whatever circumstance”. Not easy words to say or to live. Why? Because it’s easier to focus on the downside of life’s circumstances.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians includes 3 places where the recipients and us are encouraged, inspired, challenged, instructed, reminded…to be THANKFUL.
For a small letter, he mentions it quite a bit. If you read other parts of Paul’s NT writing, you will notice that he’s often saying thank you to others, thank you Jesus, and simply exhibits a grateful heart and attitude. It’s almost like he believes deeply that if the world has to peg one characteristic on us, let it be that those who follow Jesus are known by how grateful they are in whatever circumstance they find themselves.
Is it hard? Yup.
Does it require some kind of godly perspective? Yes.
Is there any other way to be a Christian? Not really.
With that in mind, let’s look at Colossians 2:6-7
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (NIV)
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (NLT)
As you can see, there’s more in the text than just how and why to be grateful.
Most times, in the scriptures, when we arrive at the word thankfulness, there was a lead up, a bit of context. These verses in Colossians are consistent with that.
Paul’s main idea? Receive Christ – Live in Christ. This is the gist of what Paul is trying to get across. He wants us to know that we don’t just receive Jesus, we live in Jesus. And living in Jesus can only happen when we first receive him.
It comes down to this question for Paul: What does it look like to conduct a life that has been impacted by Jesus?
He uses four words or participles to explain this: ROOTED, BUILT UP, STRENGTHENED, OVERFLOWING.
ROOTED & BUILT UP
These first two go together. You probably can get the analogy. In planting a tree or building a house, two things have to happen: go low (planting or foundation), then grow up or build up.
Rooted is a one time experience. It’s the planting of a seed, or a laying of a foundation. It happens at the beginning. Paul says this is essential for you to live in Christ. You have to be rooted in him – planted deep in the soil of Jesus.
Building is the continuation of what has been started. So don’t just plant a seed, don’t just lay a foundation…build on that foundation. Water and nurture that seed. See to it that the seed grows, that the house gets build up.
This Paul’s word for our spiritual formation journey.
Are we strengthening our spiritual muscles?
Are we maturing in our understanding of Jesus?
Are we becoming more acquainted with the Holy Spirit?
Are we learning, growing, becoming, forming, loving, caring, serving, doing, impacting…?
OVERFLOWING (with Thankfulness)
And finally we reach the end of what Paul wants to get across.
If you’re rooted in Jesus, and you’re being built up in the ways of the kingdom, and if your faith is being strengthened and you’re growing stronger because of it, the natural progression is this: Your life will over flow with Thanksgiving. Your life will abound in gratitude. No matter what you’re going through, you will find a way, you will find a reason – to be thankful.
People will know this one thing about you – you are grateful for breath, for life, for food, for friends, for work, for family, for wins, for losses, for coffee, for water… (you get the idea?)
May we be known for our gratefulness – in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. This surprises our world, this shocks our neighbours, this stuns our co-workers. Why? Because it’s easier to complain, to worry, to be pessimistic…those seem to be the go to reaction.
Colossians 2 says…there is another way…if you’ve received Jesus…and you live in Jesus…may your life OVERFLOW with THANKFULNESS.
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For some of you going through a tough time, or even going through hell, you’re thinking that this is the last thing you need to hear. You can’t be thankful for anything right now. Please know that in your situation, there is so much grace. God knows what you’re going through and aches with you. He will be by your side until you can muster up the words to be grateful for something. But also know that sometimes, saying thank you is huge step of faith. If so, may you take that step of faith today.
Try and pray this prayer everyday this week.
Thank you Jesus…
For inviting me to receive you…
For the privilege to live my life in you…
In you I live, move and have my being…
Jesus, may I be rooted in you…
Jesus, may I continue to be built up in you…
May you strengthen me by the power of your Spirit to become the person you’ve called me to be…
And Jesus, may all this cause an overflow of thankfulness…may I be grateful, to you, for you, with others, on good days, on bad days, when I win and when I lose…
May your light, Jesus, shine through my posture of gratitude…everyday…in every way…to everyone.
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small(er) group discussion:
Why would speaking about thankfulness be a tough sell for some people?
Do you think we should avoid the topic or simply understand that as important as it is, we must give others lots of grace and patience?
If you were to share, what would you say thank you for today?
Let’s read Colossians 2:6-7 together. What sticks out for you? What inspires, challenges, encourages or even bugs you about these words?
Take a few minutes to break down each important word/phrase:
ROOTED…BUILT UP…STRENGTHENED…OVERFLOWING with THANKFULNESS
I think Paul’s main question is: What does it look like to conduct a life that has been impacted by Jesus? If so, do you think Thankfulness needs to get to the top of the list of how people describe you or other followers of Jesus?