Topic: Game of Thanks (November 24, 2016)
Read: Colossians 3:12–17
Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 22–23; 1 Peter 1
Whatever you do, . . . do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17
Every autumn we throw a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast on campus at Cornerstone University. Our students love it! Last year a group of students played a game at their table. They challenged each other to name something they were thankful for—in three seconds or less—without repeating what someone else had said. Anyone who hesitated was out of the game.
There are all kinds of things that students might gripe about—tests, deadlines, rules, and a host of other college-type complaints. But these students had chosen to be thankful. And my guess is that they all felt a lot better after the game than they would have if they had chosen to complain.
While there will always be things to complain about, if we look carefully there are always blessings to be thankful for. When Paul describes our newness in Christ, “thankfulness” is the only characteristic mentioned more than once. In fact it is mentioned three times. “Be thankful,” he says in Colossians 3:15. Sing to God “with gratitude in your hearts” (v. 16). And whatever you do, be sure to be “giving thanks to God the Father” (v. 17). Paul’s instruction to be thankful is astonishing when we consider that he wrote this letter from prison!
Today, let’s make the choice to have an attitude of thankfulness.
Prayer: Lord, teach me the liberating joy of being thankful! Help me to find the blessings that are locked up in the things I complain about and to regularly express my gratitude to You and others.
Choose the attitude of gratitude.
Insight: Paul compared new life in Christ to changing old clothes for new ones (Col. 3:9, 10). But don’t we have old “clothes”—attitudes—that feel more comfortable than new ones? What if we’ve tried over and over to be more forgiving, thankful, and peaceful (vv. 14–15) without much change? If so, it’s important that we not misunderstand what Paul is urging us to do. The secret of clothing ourselves in the attitudes of Christ, according to Paul, is being good hosts to Christ in us (1:27). As we learn to consider and rely on His presence in us gratefully, we gradually discover that wonderful new attitudes of love, peace, and gratefulness are growing in us in ways that we sense are not simply the result of our own efforts.