“How odd,” I thought as the word jumped off the page and into my startled brain. I’d never noticed it before, but there was the word thanksgiving, dangling off the end of the sentence like an afterthought:
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”Colossians 2:6, 7 (ESV, emphasis mine)
“How does this work?” I asked my journal. “What is the connection between “established in the faith” and “abounding in thanksgiving?”
Always vigilant for the spiritual growth of his fledgling churches, Paul traced the progression as he saw it:
- First, they were taught. (7)
- At some point, this led to them “receiving Christ Jesus the Lord.” (6)
- “They became rooted, built up, and established in the faith.” (7)
- Their lives were characterized by an abundance of gratitude. (7)
In his letter to the Romans, Paul confirms this connection between gratitude and faith by lamenting a glaring absence in Romans 1:21.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. “
Maybe you’ve seen this same slippage in your own “prone to wander” heart? I’ll confess that one reason the word thanksgiving stands out to me in a biblical text is that for me, it’s a continual fight. My heart needs the music of gratitude, pulling me back always toward the center who is Christ. John Piper put it succinctly:
God has appointed gratitude as one of the essential guardians of your soul.”
We have an enemy, and our souls are always in need of protection. It’s not our first instinct to honor God or to give him thanks. So often we fall into patterns of futile thinking as we chase joy and fulfillment where it just can’t be found.
Come with me, this November, into a purposeful and intentional embrace of thanksgiving. During a month when we’re all experiencing the surreptitious slide toward the Holiday of Hurry, let’s guard our souls with gratitude.Tweet
I’ll be writing about the biblical invitation to give thanks and also sharing my own personal practices of gratitude right here. Together, we can be counter-cultural practitioners of the kind of gratitude that will guard our souls from the flurry of anxiety, comparison, and covetousness that threaten to steal our joy!
If you know of someone who would be helped by a November commitment to Thanksgiving Living, I’d love it if you passed on my invitation. And if there’s a particular spiritual practice or tradition that’s holding our heart in gratitude these days, be sure to share it below in the comments!
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