Be Rich in Expressing Gratitude: A Thanksgiving Meditation from Colossians
Consequently, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and being built upon him and being made secure in the faith just as you were taught, being rich in expressions of gratitude. (Colossians 2:6-7 My translation1)
Thanksgiving is a funny word. Not “ha ha” funny, but in the sense that, although it is a noun, it names a verb, an activity – “giving of thanks.” Far too often, we allow it to remain a noun when it really needs to become an activity, or more specifically, the expressing of gratitude in our hearts to God. As long as thanksgiving remains a noun and not an activity, we will never be rich in it.
Some might say, “I’m not the expressive type.” Or, “We are all thankful in different ways.” But “thanksgiving” has a meaning – the expressing of gratitude. Paul calls us to be rich in expressions of gratitude! Note he doesn’t qualify that with, “unless you are not an expressive person.”
This was no throw-away comment for Paul. This letter began with testimony of his own thanksgiving.
We always express gratitude to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ concerning you when we pray, having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have toward all the saints… (Colossians 1:3-4 My translation)
Paul’s instruction to be rich in expressions of gratitude (thanksgiving) grows out of his own life, and is something he actually expects all Christians to engage in. In fact, this theme of thanksgiving is consistent throughout the epistle.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, to which you were called, by one Spirit, and be thankful. Let the message about Christ dwell in you richly, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other, singing with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, expressing gratitude to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:15-17 My translation)
Persist in prayer, being watchful in them with expressions of gratitude [to God]. (Colossians 4:2 My translation)
It is great to have one day a year set aside to remind us to pause and give thanks to God. But as believers, our lives should be marked every day with expressions of gratitude to God. Paul even demonstrates this when he was suffering but gave thanks to God for how it benefited the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 4:12-15).
Is your life marked by expressions of gratitude to God? I confess that though I have so much to be grateful for, my expressions of gratitude to God fall far short of what Paul describes as the norm for the Christian life. Join me this Thanksgiving in examining our hearts and lives and find space and words for being rich in expressions of gratitude to God.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,
1There is nothing inherently better in translating this with the phrase “expressions of gratitude” rather than “thanksgiving.” However, the emphasis of this blog post is that thanksgiving means to express gratitude (whether we are talking about the English or the Greek word). I am therefore using the phrase which expresses the meaning of the word. This post grew out of my taking time to translate the Greek verses.