Imagine that you're giving instructions on how to live for God-- a quick list of bullet points -- to a group of people you care a great deal about. You mention compassion and kindness, humility and gentleness, patience and peace, forgiveness and forbearance, and of course, love. And before you move on to other thoughts, you find there's one more thing you want to mention. What would be the item you'd want to make sure you added?
I find it interesting that the apostle Paul appeared to be in such a position as he wrote to the Colossians. He lists all those qualities one after another, and not as bullet points, but in flowing sentences with caring explanations for some of those items (see Colossians 3:12-15). And then there was one more item he wanted to add -- an instruction that stands alone, emphasized by its singularity: "And be thankful" (Col. 3:15).
That's what Paul wanted to make sure he included. Nothing else he mentions in this passage sounds quite so blunt and forceful. "And be thankful." And though none of the other qualities he had just listed are repeated before he quickly concludes this paragraph, he mentions thankfulness two more times before he's ready to move on to other thoughts: "...singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (3:16), and in verse 17 he says, "And whatever you do, in word and deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
Gratitude mattered to Paul when he considered how we're to live for God. When he said, "And be thankful", I don't believe it was an idle afterthought. It was an emphasis. It was important enough to him to mention it three times. It's as though Paul was saying, "Whatever isn't taken care of by all the above items I've listed will certainly be covered if you're thankful in whatever circumstances you face!"
So if you're ever talking to yourself about something you're going through -- speaking to your soul to get yourself back on track -- make a point of always adding one last thought to whatever you're thinking: And be thankful! It's an expression of faith and trust in God that helps us to see whatever we're going through in its proper perspective. It acknowledges that God is above anything we're facing. Anything. It's a command that is always relevant: And be thankful!
© 2009 by Ken Peters
Footnote: To those who know me as a Vikings fan, it's a complete coincidence that the picture I chose of a boy gesturing a #1 is also wearing a #4 on his shirt! Though I'm quite thankful for #4 of the Vikings.
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