And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. . . .  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.
(Colossians 3:15, 17 ESV)
Here in a span of a few short verses the Apostle Paul makes clear that the appropriate character clothing of the Christian will always include a faithful heart. He does not say our thankfulness should depend on circumstances, nor on whether or not we “feel” it. Rather, he simply commands, “Be thankful.” This is a volitional act, not an emotional decision. Further, we can make two additional observations about thanksgiving from these verses.
Be Thankful Comprehensively
There are no limitations or qualifications to this bold imperative. Why? Because we are naturally ungrateful. We get angry, fuss and fume when:
- We don’t get what we want.
- We don’t get it when we want it.
- We don’t get how much we want.
- We don’t get it the way we want it.
We are always and everywhere faced with situations in which we may be ungrateful. But here and in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul says, “In everything give thanks.” As followers of Jesus, we must take each and every one of these situations and infuse them with a spirit of gratitude.
Be Thankful through Christ
We are to give thanks (a) to the Father (b) through Christ. Why? Because as 1 Thessalonians 5:18B says, the “in everything” of our thanksgiving is “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We have been given in Christ “every spiritual blessing” (Eph 1:3). This does not mean there will not be times to mourn, or to lament, or to work for change because we see evil in the world. What it does mean, though, is that none of these things can supplant the enormity of what God has done for us in Christ, and for that we should always be thankful.
This is one of the most difficult pieces of character clothing for the Christian to put on. It is also one of the most important, for it can be done only with the eyes of faith and a settled confidence in a sovereign and gracious God. When we understand God’s hand is in all things, through Christ, then we can thank Him for all things. Unable to trace His hand, we can still trust His heart!
Let’s put on thanksgiving.