I am not thankful! (…enough)

Thanksgiving is “as American as apple pie” some might say. However, giving thanks is a much older practice than America itself. Giving thanks is the genuine response of disciples of Jesus Christ offered to our gracious Redeemer.  Giving thanks is an abounding act of worship for Christians. Consider the words of Paul to the church at Colossi:

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6)

The verse is paramount because it describes how a follower of Jesus must walk in him each day of life. Since we have received Jesus as our Lord then we should walk in him. Here are three characteristics of this life in Christ. The first two are not surprising and are consistent with my experience as a disciple.

  1.  Rooted and built up in Christ.
  2. Established in faith as we were taught.

The churches I have attended since birth have majored in these first two characteristics. The seminaries I attended focused on these two elements of walking with Christ. My family discipleship experience growing up supported these two aspects of Christian living. My personal walk with Christ today focuses on these two characteristics of Christian life. The third characteristic is strangely missing from my otherwise daily, intentional walk in Christ. Before you judge me, get your mind around the third characteristic of the daily walk with Christ.

   3. Abounding in thanksgiving.

Sure, I am thankful to God.  I demonstrate that normally by observing special days like “Thanksgiving” or by giving an offering of “thanksgiving” or by singing a little louder on Sunday when I am feeling thankful. The description of a Christian’s daily walk in Christ, according to Colossians 2:7, is different than the normal response of feeling thankful. It is consistent and intentional thanksgiving that is “abounding.”

The idea behind the word “abounding” is to provide “considerably more than would be expected.” This is a life overflowing with thankfulness beyond the expected level of gratitude. As I evaluate my own walk with Christ I admit my thanksgiving is less than abounding and could be described as meeting the acceptable norm in our culture of thanks. Abounding? Not really. I want this to change, but how? Back to Colossians:

“Put on then as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which bind everything together in perfect harmony. 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.” (Colossians 3:12-17)

Perhaps this is where I should stop. I am tempted to apply this passage for you. Instead, it might be better if you take the time to seek God yourself. Pray, “Lord Jesus, I want to abound with thanksgiving. Show me how to be overflowing with gratitude every day.”  Then read Colossians 3:12-17. Pray, “Holy Spirit speak to me as I meditate on your word desiring to abound with genuine thankfulness every day.” Do a simple exercise. Take your time. Ask and answer these three questions and let God speak to you about you.

  1. What does Colossians 3:12-17 say?
  2. Why do I need to know it?
  3. How should I change because of it?

I pray you have an amazing day of Thanksgiving on Thursday. More than that, I pray that we become disciples of Jesus who overflow with thanksgiving every day of our walk with him.  As a believer every day is thanksgiving day!

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