Instead I want to talk about thankfulness. Beware of glazing over at this point on the assumption that thankfulness is merely politeness or good manners.
In the letter to the Colossians, which we studied for 6 weeks in the leadup to Advent, we encountered thankfulness numerous times, although I didn’t make much of it in the sermons. Consider these verses:
- “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you” Col 1:3
- “ [Give] joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” Col 1:12
- “Continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Col 2:7
- “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Col 3:15
- “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.” Col 3:17
- “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Col 4:2
All of these urge us to thank God. How might we apply these as we transition from 2017 to 2018?
First, let us be thankful for what God has done in 2017. Thankful for each other, for God’s gift of our inheritance, and for all the ways he has worked things together for good through the details of our lives during the past 12 months.
Secondly, let’s commit to thankfulness in 2018. Maybe it is a kind of resolution. If God is at work each day, then let us thank him each day. For his marvellous creation. For our daily provisions. For our Saviour Jesus, and for growing us in knowledge of Jesus. These really are important!
Finally, why is this more than good manners? Thankfulness is at the heart of what it is to be Christian. And a lack of thankfulness is at the heart of what it is to be in rebellion with God, in need of forgiveness. Imagine receiving all that we have from God and not thanking him for it? How tragic to ignore God’s grace and to think he owes us our existence… Instead, thankfulness keeps us humble before him, clinging to him for our needs.
So in 2018, let us thank him constantly. And may this grow our awareness of his immense power and grace.