We’re continuing our study of Colossians 3:15 today:
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15 (ESV)
This our third look at this verse. Our first two looks are here, where we discussed “the peace of Christ,” and here, where we talked about this peace manifesting itself in our Christian lives. Today, we look at the finish piece of this verse,
“And be thankful.”
Keep in mind that Colossians 3 is a guide for living the Christian life. From the first verse, the Apostle Paul is catching the attention of believers (“If then you have been raised with Christ…”) and from there he goes on to discuss the perspective of a life in Christ and how this life should be lived. He reminds us that sin should be “put to death” (v. 5), put away (v. 7) and “put off” (v. 9). We don’t deal with sin this way to earn our salvation, this is just how a Christian honors God. But life isn’t just about dealing with sin, it’s also about what we “put on” (v. 10) and Paul provides a wonderful list of things we can do in place of sinning. This isn’t a full and complete list of every single thing we can do to honor God, but it is a good place to start.
Our passage today – “And be thankful” – is one of those things we can do to please the Lord. We can simply be thankful.
But why is this? Why is it so important to be thankful?
Well, I think “being thankful” is a reflection of what is happening in a person’s heart.
In the context of this verse, Paul is reminding Christians of what it means to be in Jesus Christ. In verses 1-4, he reminds us of being “hidden with Christ in God” and of “Christ who is [our] life.” It’s from this perspective that we are reminded of what to do with sin (put to death, put away, put off) and what should go in it’s place.
When we are in Jesus Christ, we realize that what He did on the cross He did for us. He atoned for our sin by taking our place. His did a work that we could not do and He paid the cost even though He didn’t owe it. When we realize this, thankfulness should flow out of us. Gratitude should pour forth.
That even applies to our daily living.
One of the most quoted passages on prayer and thanksgiving comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
You can read in this passage that Paul doesn’t say to just do these when things are good, or when things are going really bad. He reminds us to do them “without ceasing” and “in all circumstances.” A Christian has the blessing of being able to cast his cares on the Lord because the Lord cares for him (1 Peter 5:7) and also has the blessing of knowing that whatever comes along – trial or triumph – the Lord is in control. This Lord that thought enough to save us while we were His enemies loves us and cares for us. Therefore, we can be thankful and praise Him, no matter the situation.
These are easy words to type, but not so easy to practice in real life. I know these words and I believe them, but practicing them is altogether different. Despite what I know about God, I still default to thinking I know all and I know best. Rather than trust God and demonstrate faith, I routinely choose to trust myself and work within my own power. This is sad for me to say. As I look back on this, my actions are pure folly. To think that I’m more powerful or know more than God is pure lunacy. Yet, that’s the course I choose so many times.
Therein lies the importance of Paul’s words about remembering to be thankful. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Despite what we know about God, we easily forget what He’s done for us. This problem is even worse if we don’t deal with sin in our lives.
So today, let’s do what Paul says, “and be thankful.” We have a God who is worthy and due our thanks.