My Grandmother Rose was known all around our community for how she responded to the simple question: “How are you doing?” Her classic response always was: “I’m thankful.” In times of sorrow and in times of joy, “I’m thankful.” In times of abundance and in times of scarcity, “I’m thankful.” My Grandmother spoke in the accent of heaven – thankfulness.
She learned this accent by listening to people like the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3 where he teaches us what grows in the soil of a thankful heart. There are four things: the character, the peace, the word, and the love of Christ. This short article will address the first two of them. He writes of the first two in verses 12-15:
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
The first thing that grows in the soil of a thankful heart is the character of Christ (Col. 3:12-14).
The character of Christ is set forth in eight virtues. All of which are designed to reduce friction and produce the peace of Christ. Clothe yourself – there is an imperative here. I want to focus on just one aspect of His character. The only proper response to God’s grace is thankfulness. Thankful in the original NT is ‘eucharistos’ – from which we get the word for the Lord’s Supper – the Eucharist. This word means “to be grateful, gracious and agreeable.”
The character of Jesus Christ is seen in qualities like compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. All of us know how much better our relationships would be if we used a little more compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
The only way that we can truly express those qualities is by experiencing them from our Lord Jesus. The kindness of Jesus makes us kind. The compassion of Jesus transforms us into compassionate people. So, as you prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, reflect on how Jesus has dealt with you and then ask him for strength to do the same with each member of your extended family.
The second thing that grows in the soil of a thankful heart is the peace of Christ (Col. 3:15). Peace is the calmness of mind, of rest and contentment in the hearts of those who know that their Redeemer lives. In John 14:27, Jesus himself said: “My peace I give to you, let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” The peace of Christ is to referee your conflicts, disputes, and differences. The peace of Christ is to act with decisive force in the conflict of impulses and feelings that may arise in your marriage, in your extended family and in your church.
There are many sins that imperil the unity of the body of Christ. Colossians 3:8-9 warns against them. They are anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk and lying.
The Apostle Paul’s appeal to be thankful fits this context of life in the body of Christ because the thankful Christian is easier to get along with than one is always complaining. A grateful spirit promotes unity by encouraging others to emulate it.
Would you ask the Lord this Thanksgiving to make you into more of a thankful person – one who reflects the character of Christ and one who experiences the peace of Christ.
What is growing in the soil of your heart?