Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 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 (NIV).
We offer thanksgiving as part of our new way of life (3:15). Our union with Christ in his death and resurrection has ended the rule of sin in our lives (cf. Colossians 3:1-4). The practices of the old way of life are contrary to a life of thanksgiving (cf. Colossians 3:5; cf. Romans 1:18-29; 2 Timothy 3:2). For this reason, we are to end the remaining actions of the old way of life. Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5 CSB; cf. Romans 8:13).
Our union with Christ begins the development of a new way of life. We become thankful to God our Savior. Thankfulness disables self-pity. How can you throw a pity party for yourself when you are a thankful person? Consider what we might call the self-pity sequence: Envy leads to self-pity that causes anger that leads deeper into bitterness that in turn causes depression. But thankfulness to God promotes humility and contentment. Every good gift is from God. Therefore, I should not expect to be treated as superior (1 Corinthians 4:7). Every good gift is from God. Therefore, I should be satisfied with his good gifts. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself (Philippians 4:11 CSB).
We also become thankful to others:
- We recognize our mutual interdependence. We let each other know in a glad and encouraging way that we need each other.
- We express appreciation. This makes us observe what Christ is doing in and through others, and then to verbalize our approval and enjoyment of such actions.
- We encourage others in good works (cf. Hebrews 10:25).
We also offer thanksgiving as partners in worship (3:16). The word of Christ should govern our worship together. The word of Christ is both from him and concerns him. He is the source and the substance of God’s revelation or message to us. This word is to live richly in our hearts. How does this happen? It richly lives in us when we listen attentively to it (Matthew 13:9), hide it in our hearts (Psalm 119:11), handle it correctly (2 Timothy 2:15), and hold it out to others (Philippians 2:16).
We must seriously understand that thanksgiving is to be a corporate experience. The whole local assembly is to share in the richly living word of Christ together. Church is not a place that you go to, but it is people in Christ that you partner with for the word of Christ.
When the word of Christ has its proper place in a local church, it transforms the worship of the gathering of believers. The word that is sung in worship becomes a means of teaching and admonishing one another (cf. Colossians 1:28). We join the vertical and the horizontal aspects of worship. Then worship is not an individual matter, but a sweet sharing of life in Christ. Then our songs of praise join together as songs of gratitude for how God has given us grace together in the body of Christ. How is your experience of corporate thanksgiving to God in Christ? How would you rate what happens in your local gathering? Will you join with others to increase the overflowing gratitude that our Lord and Savior deserves?
Grace and peace, David