The simple instruction (command!) contained in these three words comes from the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:15. Let me put them in their context: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 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 word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 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.” (Colossians 3:12-17). Last year brought us all many challenges - stressful situations, frustrations, difficult decisions to make, worrying world events, strained and testing relationships, etc. … and as we begin this year we seem to be looking down the barrel at ‘more of the same’!
The Christians in Colosse, to whom Paul was writing, were faced with the daunting challenge of living their lives, ‘whether in word or deed’, under the lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ, in a culture fashioned by a worldview that had no place for the one, true God of Creation, the one who clearly reveals himself to his world in the Scriptures and in his Son. Perhaps we can relate to this as we see our world/culture actively taking the same course.
Paul’s word to the Colossians is therefore worthy of our close attention. In this challenging situation we have much for which to ‘be thankful’, and to ‘have gratitude in our hearts to God’. High on the list I would put ‘each other’! The blessing of the fellowship we share in Christ in our various church families, and in our ‘Biblical-Christian-Worldview-School community, must never be undervalued. That is why Paul sees it as worthwhile, even imperative, that we work hard on keeping it healthy.
How do we do this? “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” All the difficulties thrown at us by the COVID pandemic can make all this particularly challenging, and no less important. But, as Paul hints, a basic ingredient in achieving success is the cultivation of a thankful heart! I used to love to sing in Sunday School the hymn, “We plough the fields and scatter”, which ends with the verse: “We thank thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good, the seedtime and the harvest, our life, our health, our food. Accept the gifts we offer for all thy love imparts, and what Thou most desirest - our humble, thankful hearts.” I was challenged this week by a question in Tim & Kathy Keller’s ‘The Way of Wisdom’, commenting on Proverbs 9:3-6, “Does your prayer life include much praise and savouring of Jesus, or is it mainly a time of asking for things?”
Rev Bruce Christian
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