Col. 4:2 Gratitude CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Paul is an amazing character. Undoubtedly he is one of the most thankful men in the Bible.
26 times Paul specifically gives thanks for a multitude of things: for food, for friends who encouraged him, for the faith and testimony of his converts, for converts who obeyed the right doctrine, for the victory of Christ over sin in the flesh, for faithful co-workers, for the grace of God, for gifts from churches, for his spiritual gifts, for the joy of seeing souls saved, for the promised inheritance, for souls receptive to the preaching of the gospel, for being put into the ministry, and for the Lord reminding him of his churches in prayer.
But oddly he is one of the most likely characters to be bitter about all of the bad stuff that happened to him. He was directed to Philippi and then beaten and jailed for doing right. He was imprisoned, whipped, beaten, stoned, starved, dehydrated, shipwrecked, maligned, falsely accused, despised, nearly killed on several occasions, robbed, naked, cold, worn out, in pain, and weighed down with the care of all the churches. That’s not exactly the recipe for a life of gratitude. Nevertheless, you will not find a more grateful person in the Bible than him.
And not only did he demonstrate a life of gratitude, but he also charged us to be thankful, as well. He commanded us to speak with thanksgiving, pray with thanksgiving, watch with thanksgiving, work with thanksgiving, praise with thanksgiving and give with thanksgiving. He told us to give thanks for all men and for all things and to be thankful in all things. He said to give thanks rather than to talk like we did before we were saved.
There’s something to gratitude. A recent study of school kids revealed that children who are thankful are happier children. I know that I am happier when I am grateful and I can be quite an ogre when I’m not.
Without a doubt, the reason that Josh and Caleb have been able to thrive spiritually in prison is that they are thankful. They are thankful for their loving Father, their many friends, for their faithful and loving wives, for their converts and ministries, for the fellowship of the Lord, for evident spiritual growth, for the lessons that they have been taught and learned, for hope, and on and on the list goes. Concentrating on the things for which they are grateful has helped them not to concentrate on the things that are a drag.
A Sunday school teacher asked her class for what they were thankful. One little boy said, “My glasses.” She replied, “But, why?” He said, “Because they keep the boys from fighting me and the girls from kissing me.”
Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsy, were transferred to the worst prison camp they had seen. It was infested with fleas. They read 1 Thes 5 the day they arrived and Betsy told Corrie that they needed to thank God for the fleas. At first, Corrie refused. But then she gave in and later learned that because of the fleas the guards wouldn’t enter the barracks, giving them ample opportunity to hold Bible studies and prayer meetings.
You see that thanksgiving is something that you do and being thankful is something that you are – you cultivate thanksgiving – you work at it – it is something that you develop
According to the commands of Paul, thankfulness will improve:
Your conversation – Ephesians 5:4 – Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Your attitude – Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 1 Timothy 2:1 – I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Your prayer life – Philippians 4:6 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Colossians 4:2 – Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
Your spiritual maturity – Colossians 2:7 – Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Your purpose – Colossians 3:17 – And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Your submission – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Hebrews 13:15 – By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.