It’s nice to be thanked for what you’ve done, how you’ve gone out of your way for someone, or how you’ve just shown how much you cared. We like to be recognized for what we believe we’ve done for others because it makes us feel good about doing it. Unfortunately, many times we have reduced our thankfulness to just a word and maybe we’ve been unappreciative for what others have done for us because we expect them to do it. We may justify our neglect of thankfulness by feeling it is their duty to do what they’ve done for us. Perhaps we even expect God to perform a certain way because, after all, He’s God and He’s supposed to do this or that. Fortunately for us, Colossians 3:12-17 can correct our error.
Colossians sheds some light on how we respond thankfully to God because of the salvation He has brought to our lives through Jesus. See, we can’t merely say, “Thanks, Jesus!,” and go on living however we please. There is an action involved with our thankfulness and Colossians shows us we actively thank God in three ways.
1. Give the Word a Home.
Have you ever lived with someone who is difficult to get alone with, or even worse, made it clear they didn’t want you present. They invited you in but now have issues with how you decorated your room, how you do the dishes, and how you put the roll of toilet paper on the holder. Not only is there constant conflict, but it is all you anticipate. If we say we desire Jesus and to be saved, and we invite Him into our lives, but will then give no place for His Word in us, we are the same as that difficult person you lived with in the past. We knew who He is and what He would expect, but we invited Him in and all we do is fight Him on what He desires to do.
If I want to give the Word a home in me, I’m going to have to learn to live harmoniously with Him. To do this, I must hear God’s Word. Matthew 13:9 makes it clear that I have the ability to hear God, and the ability to tune Him out, but I must make a choice to hear Him! Next, I have to handle God’s Word. (2 Timothy 2:15) Jesus accused many of being ever hearing but never perceiving. They heard the Word but were clueless as to what it meant or even how it applied to their lives. That’s what happens when you won’t get experience with the Word by spending time in your Bible and learning it. Thirdly, you have to hide it in your heart. (Psalm 119:11) I’m not trying to contradict myself from what was said before, but what I mean is you need to treasure God’s Word. Just like you would put a piece of expensive jewelry in a safe place, God’s Word has to be treasured and exalted. You must value it above all other objects in your life. Lastly, you have to hold it fast. (Philippians 2:16) God’s Word can’t stabilize your life if you won’t stand on it.
2. Give the Word Purpose
Something Warren Wiersbe once said in a book I read made an impression on me long ago. Not to quote him exactly, he mentioned how we are not producers but distributors. God produces in us what we are then instructed to distribute. We don’t have to come up with the plan because God already has His plan. Now, I’m part of that plan, and what He has done in me is what I’m to distribute to others. This part of the verse tells me how to distribute God’s Word.
First, I’ve got to be able to teach others God’s Word. This shouldn’t be understood in the context of actually getting in front of people and teaching them, but more easily taken as being able to instruct someone in God’s Word. This is valuable to believers you know where you may be encouraging them in the promises of God or even in a testimony about God to those who don’t know Him.
Second, I must admonish others in God’s Word. I realize we don’t like to tell people what they are doing wrong, but if we have any love for one another, we will be able to speak the truth in love, or as Colossians says here, ‘with all wisdom.’
Third, I must praise God. Teaching and admonishing are important, but I wasn’t created expressly for those purposes, but I was created by God to give Him praise.
3. Give the Word Meaning
Colossians 3:17 finishes up with reminding us to give God’s Word meaning in all I do, whether its in my actions or in my words. Well, that pretty much sums up all each of us can do, right? It may be hard to practice, but we have to speak as Jesus would speak. After all, I’m not out to model what a true believer is, but I’m a representation of Jesus. Each of us is seeking to show others who Jesus is. What better way than to speak as He did (in the Word) and does now (through the Spirit). Not only is it important to speak like Jesus, but also to live like Jesus in the actions I take. We are told to think before we speak, and it would be best for believers to consider Jesus before acting out. How would Jesus respond? How would Jesus correct? How would Jesus show love? That’s important for us to understand. And lastly, Paul reminds us to give thanks. Jesus didn’t complain, but He accepted the Father’s Will, and even when it was difficult, He found it meaningful and worthwhile and God was worthy to be praised. People around us need to see how Jesus has helped us stop complaining about our circumstances, worrying about outcomes, or even being afraid of the known and unknowns of life. We can show them how Jesus would respond by living in joy continually, giving thanks to God always, and possessing the peace which comes from knowing He loves us and is for us.