Say “Thank You”
Growing up, I remember one thing my parents instilled in me was to say, thank you. I was instructed to say thank you at birthday parties when someone gave me a gift. I was told to say thank you after the waiter delivered my food to our table. I was commanded to say thank you when the photographer said how handsome I looked in my Cleveland Indians overalls for preschool picture day. (I always dressed cool!)
Right before I wrote this article, I replied to an email saying, thank you. But what does the word “thanks” mean? We throw that word around often, but what biblical ramifications does it have on our lives? How can we develop a better understanding of the word “thanks” as we use it with others and amid circumstances we face?
The Apostle Paul has a lot to say in his letters, but in his letter to the Colossians, one of the most common words he likes to use is “thankful.” Below is a list of the verses (with emphasis added) that include the theme of thankfulness in this letter:
Colossians 1:3 ESV
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.”
“…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
“…rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
“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.”
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
I look at this list and think to myself, I am not thankful enough! In every chapter in this short letter, Paul is telling us to have a spirit of thankfulness. How can this be so? How can Foster Toft be thankful when he has to wear Cleveland Indian overalls for picture day and truly mean it? What does it mean to be thankful according to Paul?
If you were to sit and read Colossians in one sitting, you would find a lot of connections and themes. A connection that is found with thankfulness is having proper priories. The key to a thankful spirit for Paul is to focus on Christ and have that flow out into every area of your life. For you and me to be thankful today, as Paul is toward the Colossians, is for us to see kingdom work being done in others and having the main thing be the main thing—which is Christ.
Are you struggling with thankfulness today? Do you battle to approach work or relationships with thanksgiving? Are you able to say thank you when someone gives you harsh criticism? For Paul, to develop a spirit of thanksgiving, you have to develop a passion for Christ and see him in everything. Paul makes this clear to us in Colossians 3:3-4 when he says: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Paul makes a powerful statement here. We have died to our former selves. We are hidden in Christ! But the most amazing words said here are: “When Christ who is your life appears.” The key words are, “is your life.” Thankfulness is not something practiced. It is a lifestyle founded by being hidden in Christ. We are able to be thankful today because we see things as they properly are. Only by knowing that Christ is your very life will thankfulness flow from you naturally. You will be able to look at others with thankfulness. You will naturally be thankful in seasons of deep water because Christ is your life—period.
Maybe today you aren’t wearing Cleveland Indians overalls at preschool picture day, but you are going through something. You are in some situation either on a mountaintop or in a deep valley. Both situations can be approached with the same understanding of thankfulness: Christ is your life. Once you operate that way, you have things in their proper order and you naturally start to be thankful in every season. I pray all of us approach this upcoming season with thankfulness that can only be found in Christ and having an appreciation for things in their proper order. Thank you!