Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Colossians is Paul’s New Testament letter to the Christians and churches in Colosse, an ancient city in Asia Minor.  His intent in writing was to offer a general message of goodwill and encouragement to the believers.  Near the end of his letter, the apostle wrote, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (4:2).  Notice that he encouraged the Colossians to make a commitment to being thankful people.  In fact, he commanded it.  “Devote yourselves,” Paul wrote.  The word he chose for “devote” means to persist, to persevere in and to continue in steadfastly.  “Devote” was not a casual, haphazard, whenever-it-is-convenient exercise.  It was serious, sober and real. 
            The Greek word Paul chose for thankful means thankfulness, gratitude and the giving of thanks.  This word meant that someone had made an active choice or commit-ment to be grateful.  This sense of “thankful” meant a lifestyle or one’s way of living or being.  Colossians 4:2 is not a verse that people commonly think of or even select when it comes to the season of Thanksgiving.  But it very well could be and possibly should be.  Thankfulness is commanded and certainly expected of God’s people.  Indeed, just a bit further in chapter four and we see Paul wrote that we are to “make the most of every opportunity” (4:5).  When we are thankful, we have opportunities to speak about our reasons for gratitude and to introduce others to the Lord we both know and serve.  He is the Lord who has been good to us.
            Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  He similarly wrote in 3:15 “and be thankful.”  A heart and life of thankfulness were clearly on his mind as the Holy Spirit inspired him to write this four-chapter letter to the Colossian believers.  And remarkably, he had this commitment to thankfulness in spite of his circumstances.  He said in 4:3 that he was “in chains.”  The apostle was in prison as he wrote these words of thankfulness and gratitude.
            We learn from Paul that thankfulness has little, if anything, to do with our present circumstances.  True gratitude sees beyond the moment and takes in a composite look at the faithfulness and goodness of God and His blessings.  We can be thankful anywhere and at any time.  We do not have to make our gratitude conditional or contingent upon what may be happening around us.  “Devote” yourself is not a light command and not easily dismissed.  Paul is suggesting intentionality, priority and consistency in showing our thankfulness to the Lord God.  Gratitude can be a contagious thing.  We can inspire others and change homes, workplaces, teams and organizations.  The late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden encouraged his players to count and to give thanks for their blessings every day.  He also encouraged them to make each day their masterpiece—to be and to do the best they possibly could.  It is hard to imagine any truly good day happening without a sense of thankfulness and gratitude being part of it. 
            We are only nine days from Thanksgiving.  But the other perspective says we have nine whole days to cultivate a devotion to thankfulness.  We can make a choice.  We can decide whether the next nine days will be masterpieces or just more of the same.  May we learn from an imprisoned apostle and a deceased coach and make each day a masterpiece of gratitude and appreciation for what the Lord has done and given to us.  Have a great Tuesday and be thankful for this day that the Lord has made.  Rejoice and be glad in it!  

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