Colossians 1:12a

Giving Thanks

 

Introduction:

1. I couldn’t have chosen a better verse to land on for Thanksgiving week!

2. However, the concept of thanksgiving wasn’t a national holiday in Colossae. It was a way of life… it was an everyday attitude… not a once-a-year celebration.

3. So while I am thankful that our country has a holiday that at least ostensibly is designed to give thanks to God (that’s a good thing!), I’m also a bit concerned that our traditional celebration of Thanksgiving might give some folks the wrong idea about the Biblical concept of thanksgiving… that Thanksgiving comes once a year!

4. Our passage in Colossian addresses that concern—
» And we could not have lighted upon this verse at a better time.
» I’d like to say it was good planning on my part… but you know better than that!

Characteristics of a Worthy Walk


A. The Context

1. Paul has been praying for the Colossian saints.

2. He prayed that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and that they would have wisdom and discernment (vs. 9).

3. Paul also states the PURPOSE of this knowledge, wisdom and discernment: that they might walk worthy of the Lord.

a. Paul does not pray that they would be filled with knowledge and wisdom just to “look smart”… or for mere academic purposes. He is not interested in cold orthodoxy.

b. Rather, he prays that this knowledge and wisdom would become practical in their every day lives—that it would have a direct effect on their walk… that they would put the knowledge of His will to work in their lives…

c. Doctrine and knowledge should always translate into godly behavior.

4. Grammatically, the apostle connects four participles to this main verb, WALK: being fruitful, increasing, strengthened, and giving thanks.

B. The Four Present Participles

1. Being Fruitful (vs. 10) – a walk worthy of the Lord is one that bears fruit…

a. Fruit is borne in the life of a believer who is surrendered and yielded to Christ…

b. Fruit is only borne as we abide in Christ… and yield the members of our body to Him in service…

c. Being fruitful means reckoning self to be dead… and allowing the indwelling life of Christ to be manifested in and through us… that’s fruit… Christ-like character called the fruit of the Spirit.

d. God isn’t looking for mere activity and busyness… for service…done in the power of the flesh… but real fruit.

e. Present participle: a worthy walk is one that is continually bearing fruit… day by day Christ is seen in us… and glorified through us.

2. Increasing (vs. 10) – a worthy walk is one that is continually increasing.

a. Increase means “grow”… a worthy walk is characterized by continual spiritual growth…

b. We are to be constantly growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

c. A worthy walk is never content with pass progress, nor does it morbidly dwell on past failures… but desires to be continually growing nearer, still nearer to Christ… ever coming to the throne of grace… into the holy of holies with Him…

d. A worthy walk is constantly bearing fruit… and growing… increasing in fruit bearing… from 30 fold to 60 fold to 100 fold! First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear!

e. A worthy walk never stagnates, but is constantly growing… into the image of Christ… from glory to glory…

f. Even Paul realized that he had not yet attained, but he pressed on toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

g. A worthy walk is continually pressing on… increasing with the increase of God… hungering and thirsting for more.

3. Strengthened (vs.11) – a worthy walk is also one that is divinely empowered.

a. It is a walk that is strengthened with ALL might!

b. It is a walk that is divinely empowered SO THAT it perseveres… patiently endures… with longsuffering and joyfulness!

c. For a walk to be worthy of the Lord Himself, it requires supernatural power… and that is exactly what God provides: the power of the resurrection!

d. We can’t lead a life worthy of the Lord on our own power. We are utter failures on our own.

e. To walk worthy of our high calling in Christ requires God working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

4. Giving thanks (vs. 12) and the final participle that describes the worthy walk is giving thanks.

a. A worthy walk is one that is characterized by thankfulness.

b. Present participle indicates that this is continuous action… not just on a holiday… but every day!

c. It speaks of an ongoing attitude of thankfulness… which finds ample opportunity to openly express words of thanksgiving to the Lord.

d. A worthy walk is characterized by a thankful spirit.

e. If we have a bitter, resentful, complaining, murmuring, or ungrateful spirit, then we are not walking worthy of the Lord.

C. Thanksgiving and the Worthy Walk

1. A life that is worthy of the Lord is characterized by thankfulness. (Col. 1:12).

2. Thankfulness is fitting for a saint and a worthy walk. Eph. 5:2-4).

a. vs. 2 – Paul is talking about our WALK as a believer… it should be characterized by self sacrificing love.

b. Vs. 3 – the works of darkness have no place in our lives. We are SAINTS. That kind of behavior is not becoming a saint!

c. Vs. 4 – our walk is not to be characterized by filthiness, foolish talking or jesting… they are not FITTING…

d. But rather, the giving of THANKS. That is fitting for a saint… that is becoming… suitable… appropriate for a saint… and fitting for a worthy walk.

e. From God’s perspective, nothing could be more appropriate in our lives than thanksgiving… a thankful spirit…

f. Off colored humor and filthiness of spirit are out of place for a saint… but a thankful spirit is always appropriate!

g. Perhaps this section sounds like the people you work with at the office… filthiness; foolish jesting; etc… and sometimes they try to draw you into it.

h. A great antidote for that is for the believer to be constantly PRAISING and THANKING GOD…

i. If they hear you thanking the Lord and praising Him daily, they are less likely to tell you that off colored joke…

3. A Spirit-filled life is characterized by thankfulness (Eph. 5:18-20).

a. In this section, Paul describes the Spirit filled life by four participles too: speaking, singing, giving thanks, and submitting.

b. Just as a worthy walk is characterized by giving thanks… so too is a Spirit filled life. (No surprise—a worthy walk is a walk empowered by the Holy Spirit… ALL might)

c. When filled with the Spirit we will be thanking God ALWAYS for ALL things. WOW! That takes some power, doesn’t it!

d. We can and should be always thankful…
» And I know that some folks here have gone through some pretty painful experiences in life…
» The loss of a loved one; serious health issues; divorce; a wayward child; financial ruin…
» The worthy walk is one that is strengthened unto patient endurance through awful trials and tragedies with joyfulness…
» Even so, the worthy walk is one characterized by thankfulness—for ALL things… no matter how painful.
» Bring those painful experiences to the Lord—“in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
» Be thankful, not for the cancer or the accident—but thankful for GOD—that through it all, HE will never leave thee nor forsake thee!
» Thankful for how God can use your trial to magnify Himself… to manifest the indwelling LIFE of Christ through you… as you bear it with God’s power…
» There is no way we could be thankful for ALL things when we are occupied with self. This requires an end of self… and becoming occupied with Christ… His will… His purpose… and His glory…
» When HE becomes our all in all… when we can genuinely say, “For to me to live is Christ…” THEN we can have a thankful spirit in everything…
» That is a life FILLED with the Holy Spirit… and one that radiates with Christ.

4. A life filled with the knowledge of God’s will is characterized by thankfulness (I Thess. 5:18).

a. A worthy walk is characterized by perpetual thanksgiving: in everything!

b. Note here that this perpetual spirit of thanksgiving IS the will of God for every one of us!

c. Paul’s prayer was that the Colossians might be filled with the knowledge of His will… so that they could walk worthy of the Lord.

d. This is God’s will: a thankful, grateful heart! We make ourselves sick over God’s will sometimes: should I work here; buy this house or that; when God is concerned about our heart. THIS is His will concerning you: Be a thankful person!

e. If there is no gratitude in our hearts, we are NOT walking in His will. Period.

Thanksgiving in Colossians


A. Paul and Timothy Thanked God for the Colossian Believers (1:3)

1. He thanked God for three qualities in their lives:

a. Faith in Christ Jesus… (vs. 4) this is like being thankful that they were saved!
» We too should be constantly thanking God for the salvation of our brethren in the local assembly.
» As you go down your prayer list for the saints at church, do you just stop and thank God for saving them? Do you thank God for their faith? I hope so!
» I am so grateful for the believers in this church. I thank God daily for you… for your faith—faith that is evidenced in a worthy walk.
» I see that faith expressed day in and day out…

b. Love which ye have to all the saints (vs. 4)
» This too is something we should value—and constantly praise God for!
» This love is the fruit of the Spirit… characteristic of the worthy walk…
» We should be thankful to God for the acts of love and kindness that we see…
» Don’t just thank God for the deeds of love bestowed upon YOU (how selfish!)
» Rather, we should thank God every time we see a believer performing a deed of love regardless of who the recipient is!
» We are members of the Body of Christ. When the Body is ministered to… ALL of the members benefit from it… and should be thanking God for it.
» In the Body, we all have an influence on one another. If one member suffers, it affects us all. If one member is edified, we can all share in the encouragement of it!
» Hence, when you see an act of agape love done for any member in the Body—rejoice and thank God—just as if it were done to you personally…
» For in a round about way, we all benefit from a body that is strengthened, encouraged, and edified!
» Paul thanked God for the love that the Colossians had for each other… not just for him personally.
» Perhaps a parent could better understand this concept as we consider our kids. When you see your son showing love to his sister, isn’t that cause for thanksgiving? Even though it had nothing to do with you—you are grateful for that display of love.
» In the local church we should have the same sense of gratefulness when we see one member ministering to another.
» I thank God when I walk by the clean up list… when I come into choir practice… when I see kids going up to the nursery…
» Those are all deeds of self sacrificing love done for the good of another and the glory of God. We should ALL be thanking God for this! Daily!
» II Thess. 1:3 – Paul thanked God because their faith was growing and their love was abounding!
» Be LOOKING for such evidences of life in the brethren—and thank God for it!
» Too often we look for things to criticize. The Bible says we should look for things about which we can thank God!
» Perhaps we really ought to ask God to open our eyes that we might SEE expressions of faith and love being manifested in the saints. It is a cause of thanksgiving.

c. Hope which is laid up for you in heaven… (vs. 5)
» Here is a different expression of thanksgiving…
» Paul thanked God for the hope laid up in heaven for the believers at Colossae.
» The believers (we too!) have a marvelous hope in heaven… Christ is coming… our Blessed hope… we have an inheritance in heaven… a place is being prepared for us…
» When you see another believer in Christ… thank God that there is a substance in heaven that corresponds to his present hope… and one day he will be there.

2. We might see a believer who is a thorn in our side at times. We may have a hard time getting along with this brother… and can’t quite figure out how to handle him or her.

a. Why not start thanking God that he’s saved?

b. Thank God when you see evidence of life in him…

c. Thank God when you see him show love to others… or when you see others show love to him… and why not try to show him love yourself?

d. And thank the Lord that he has a marvelous heavenly hope.

e. We might begin to see one another from a different perspective.

f. And even if that brother rubs you the wrong way… like sandpaper… thank God that the Lord may be using him to smooth off some of YOUR rough spots… that’s what sandpaper does!

g. Don’t grumble about him… thank God for him.

h. This might change your relationship to that brother too… and his relationship to you.

i. You never know how much GOOD can come out of obeying God. Try it!

3. In Col. 1:3, Paul thanked the Lord for the Colossian believers… every last one of them.

a. Be thankful for God’s people.

b. It’s hard to hold a grudge against someone when you are praying for them daily and thanking God for them!

c. And even those believers who seem to have their funny little quirks and idiosyncrasies… be thankful for them. God can use that believer… quirks and all!

d. And about that believer who rubs you the wrong way… God is at work in him too… thank God for that.

e. Phil. 1:3-6 – Thank God and be confident that God is doing a good work in each and every believer here at Salem Bible Church. He is making us more like His Son.

f. If we love the Lord, we should be thankful for that!

g. In spite of all of our differences, what really matters is that we have the same Lord, the same faith, the same hope!

B. Walk… Abounding in Thanksgiving (2:6-7)

1. Once again Paul tells us HOW to walk:

a. AS ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him!

b. This means by FAITH… the worthy walk is a walk of faith.

c. The worthy walk of faith is also characterized by thanksgiving…

2. Here Paul states that not only are we to be thankful, but we are to be ABOUNDING in thanksgiving.

a. We all thank God sometimes… but abounding means more than “sometimes.”

b. Abounding: to be present over-abundantly or to excess; to exceed a fixed number of measure; to furnish one richly; overflow…

c. The worthy walk is a walk of faith (trusting not in our own wisdom or strength but in the Lord)… a walk that is rooted and established in the faith (not tossed to and fro)… and a walk that is abounding in thanksgiving!

d. There is a connection between faith and thanksgiving.
» As we grow and are established in THE FAITH… we come to understand more fully how COMPLETE we are in Christ.
» Finally, it begins to sink in how that we are already blessed with all spiritual blessings… already seated in the heavenlies…
» Our glorious position in Christ as redeemed ones; forgiven ones; reconciled ones; saints; indwelt; in Christ; joint heirs with Christ; possessors of the resurrection life of Christ; … and on and on it goes — as these truths begin to sink in… we are becoming ESTABLISHED in the faith… the body of Christian doctrine…
» Col. 1:12-14 – Here we are to be giving thanks for the following:
· Made meet to be partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. (vs.12)
· Delivered from the power of darkness (vs.13)
· Translated into the kingdom of His dear Son
· In Him we have redemption (vs.14)
· The forgiveness of sins
» Notice that we already HAVE each of these blessings! These are all present possessions. (3 haths and a have!)
» Each one of these is our unalterable position in Christ… nothing can ever change any one of them!
» Faith enables us to experience the reality of this in our daily lives…
» And the better we understand who we are in Christ… the more we will appreciate it. The more we grasp these truths… the more thankful we will become—naturally… automatically!
» Thanksgiving will OVERFLOW in our hearts in direct proportion to the degree to which we understand and appreciate all we have and are in Christ!
» Strong, mature, established, discerning, believers are believers who ABOUND in thanksgiving.
» The more we learn of the wonderful work of Christ on the cross… the more we learn of His marvelous grace… the more we learn of our glorious position in Him… the more thankful we will be. How could it be otherwise?

e. As believers, we should be continually growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
» We should be continually growing and increasing in our understanding of the faith – the body of Christian doctrine.
» Hence, this continual growth process allows for continual thanksgivings to God.
» When the thanksgiving stops—that means that we have stopped learning and growing and appreciating who Christ is and who we are in Him.

C. For Peace and Unity in the Body: Give Thanks (3:15)

1. God has made us members of the Body of Christ.

a. We have been taken OUT of Adam and placed IN Christ.

b. We have been organically UNITED to Christ… He is our Head…

c. We now share His LIFE. The life of the Head flows through His Body.

d. We all share the same heavenly calling…

e. In the Body, we have been made members one of another.

f. Eph. 4:4-6 – every born again person shares in this unity and calling.

g. This is an awesome calling and position. It has nothing to do with denominationalism. It has only to do with LIFE: is the person born again or not? If so, then we are one in the Spirit… and share one faith… one Lord.

h. And when this calling is PRACTICED in the local church, it is a taste of heaven on earth! The sin nature has a tendency to disrupt this peace and unity…

i. BUT—when it rules in our hearts… and it rules in the local church, we should be THANKFUL! There is nothing like it!

j. As a shepherd, I am going to do whatever I can to protect this assembly…
» endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…
» unity around the Person of Christ… as revealed in the truth of God’s Word…

k. The more we come to understand and appreciate the local church… the more thankful we will be!

l. When we see how PRECIOUS it is to God… (Bride! Body! Temple, then it should become precious to us too… and cause of great gratitude and thanksgiving.

m. We have been called into the very Body of Christ! Be ye thankful!

D. In Whatever We Do: Give Thanks (3:17)

1. Thanksgiving should accompany everything we DO… everything!

2. Actually, Paul states that everything we do or say should be done or said in the NAME of the Lord Jesus and with thanksgiving.

3. In the NAME of Christ…

a. We bear the name of Christ wherever we go… and in whatever we say or do.

b. We have been identified with Him… associated with Him… connected to Him…

c. The Head is in heaven, but the Body is on earth. We represent our heavenly Head. What we do and say is a reflection on our Head.

d. That carries with it a great responsibility… like an ambassador who represents his country.

e. That means that we should be CAREFUL about our testimony… BECAUSE we bear the name of Christ.

f. Business and companies are concerned about their name. Restaurant chains send out inspectors to inspect the restaurants that bear their name… to make sure they are living up to their name… lest they damage that name and the reputation of the chain. Even McDonalds does this! They don’t want people coming into a McDonalds and see dirty windows and poor service. Sloppiness or poor service is a bad reflection on ALL the McDonalds! It damages their reputation.

g. If they are concerned about their name, certainly the Lord’s servants ought to be concerned about God’s holy name! We bear His name in whatever we do or say. Whatever we do or say, we do in His name… and it is a reflection on HIM… hence the need for care concerning our testimony.

4. The second thing Paul states here is that in whatever we do or say, it should be done or said with THANKSGIVING.

a. If you are ashamed to thank God for it—then perhaps we shouldn’t be doing it!
» After each conversation can you say, “Thank you Lord for the opportunity to share that with this person?”
» After each video we watch, after each book we read, we should be able to say, “Thank you Lord.”

b. But if we are doing it for His glory, then we ought to be thanking Him for it…
» Thanksgiving should accompany EVERYTHING we do.
» Thanksgiving in the Bible is not a once a year holiday. It is a way of life; it is to be pervasive in the Christian life.
» God has sent us out into the world to be His witness… His representative… His ambassador. What an honor and a privilege!
» We should be thankful for such privilege.
» And as we GROW in our understanding of our purpose here on earth… AS His representatives… as those who bear His holy name… then we will also grow in thankfulness!
» A deepening of this sense of privilege and honor will deepen our sense of thanksgiving.
» Whatsoever ye do in His name—be thankful!

E. Thanksgiving in Prayer (4:2)

1. The last expression of thanksgiving in Colossians is in connection with prayer.

a. Paul exhorts the believers to continue in prayer… don’t ever stop… pray without ceasing… don’t let a day go by without prayer!

b. He exhorts us to be faithful in our prayer time…

c. The early church is our example of prayer.
» Acts 1:14 – The pre-church disciples met for prayer, both men and women and CONTINUED in one accord…
» Acts 2:42 – The early church continued steadfastly in prayer…
» It is normal for a church to meet together for corporate prayer… not just as individuals in our own prayer closets… but as an assembly!
» The early church continued steadfastly in prayer… this was not a “once in a while” occurrence.
» Prayer meeting was the norm… for men and women… and it continued faithfully. A good example for today!

2. Included in prayer was THANKSGIVING… (Col. 4:2)

a. Paul exhorts us to continue in prayer (don’t quit)… and to always include thanksgiving.

b. Phil. 4:6 – in everything by prayer and supplication WITH thanksgiving…

c. Every time of prayer should include thanksgiving…
» If we just ask for things, our prayers can be quite selfish.
» Prayer should always include a time of thanking God… in everything…in good days and bad… in sickness and in health…
» Prayers should not sound like: Gimme; gimme; gimme… but rather, thank you Lord!

d. But it takes maturity to be able to genuinely thank God for difficulties and troubles in life.
» Anybody can thank God for bounty and blessings.
» Not just anybody can thank God for a flat tire… or a sickness… or an accident… or a job loss.
» But the worthy walk of Col. 1:10-12 is characterized by continually giving thanks unto the Father…
» Anybody can be joyous and thankful when the sun is shining and all is going well.
» It takes divine power to patiently endure those dark and gloomy days… with JOYFULNESS.
» It takes spiritual maturity to be able to thank God in everything.
» But for the believer who is filled with the Spirit of God will overflow with BOTH joy and thankfulness.
· Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22)
· Thanksgiving is an evidence of Spirit filling (Eph. 5:20)
· That means that thanksgiving is the NORM for the believer.
· While others grumble and complain… while others grow bitter… we should be thanking God for His goodness… His mercy is new every morning. Thank God for that. Thank Him every morning… noon and night.


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