And Be Thankful

  “And be thankful.”1  That’s what Paul writes to the church at Colossae. “Be thankful.” It’s a good thought for us here on this Thanksgiving day. It’s a simple thing to do, right? To “be thankful.” Well . . . it depends. If we look carefully at the context of Paul’s command, what is noted is that there were many problems in this church like “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk.”2  It seems that there were some legitimate things to be upset about! But Paul tells them instead to “seek the things that are above”3  and “be thankful.”

     It sounds like Paul is telling them to Let it go.  But how do we do that? 🧐 It’s an intentional act: he tells us to “put off the old self with its practices.”4  We are to change our behavior, change our thinking, change our perspective, “put on the new self,”5  and “be thankful.”

     Here’s the whole directive: We are to “put on” . . . “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other.”6  But why? 😠 Why should we be so compassionate and forgiving if others have been so unkind and even evil? Two reasons: 1) “in these you too once walked.”7  and 2) “the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”8   Oh.  🙄  Good points.  So, “Be thankful.”

     The great thing about being thankful is that we can do it no matter what our circumstances. It’s letting “the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”1 instead of letting the worries and woes of the world trouble our souls. It’s letting “the word of Christ dwell in you richly”9 instead of allowing the frustration and disappointment in the people in our lives bring us down. Being thankful is not condoning evil or even ignoring it, but it is, instead, not focusing on it. It is not granting other things to “rule” and “dwell” in our hearts. It is to set our “minds on thing that are above, not on things that are on earth.”10   That’s how we can “be thankful” in a disappointing and evil world.

     And you know what? We might as well get used to being disappointed. It’s a recurring theme in our lives. So, instead of letting that dictate our moods and our perspectives and our productivity, we should follow Paul’s example. Writing from prison—from prison—he says, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”11

     It is easy to be thankful when things are going well. And primarily when things are going well, we are referring to the “things that are on earth.”10 That is why we must “seek the things that are above,”3  to “set [our] minds on things that are above.”10  Of course, we wish for things to go well with us here and now. But we need to be ready when they don’t. So, here’s the most important lesson about being thankful: We should not hold on too tightly to the good things. 😦  Enjoy them, sure. But our hearts and minds must be set on “things that are above.” Paul says this: “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.”11  The real secret of contentment is to “know how to abound.” To know that our bounty is temporary! Everything is! Instead of letting that fact depress us, it should make us all the more thankful when we find ourselves surrounded by a bounty of good things.  

     Whatever state we find ourselves in today, this day of thanksgiving, let us “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”12 Now that’s a reason to “be thankful.” 😉

1Colossians 3:15    2Colossians 3:8    3Colossians 3:1    4Colossians 3:9    5Colossians 3:10    6Colossians 3:12-13    7Colossians 3:7    8Colossians 3:8    9Colossians 3:16    10Colossians 3:2    11Philippians 4:12    12Psalm 107:1  

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