Around this time of the year, there is a lot of talk about thankfulness. We hear how people are thankful for many things, like family, abundance, good friends, prosperity and many other blessings. We should rightfully live a life of thanks for our earthly blessings.
But the biggest thankfulness should be reserved for the Gospel. In the letter to the Colossians, we get both a succinct description of the Gospel, and the effect of the Gospel which results in thankfulness.
First, the apostle summarizes the gospel:
Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Sinners, who are dead in their sins and unchanged in their hearts as a result of it, are changed by God. The debt owed to the righteousness of the just God is canceled. The trespasses we knowingly and unknowingly commit before God, which create a debt that can only be negated by judgment and punishment is forgiven, written off and set aside. Those debts, all of them, past, present and future, were nailed to the cross with the atonement and sacrifice of Christ, so that we may stand before God, innocent upon the appeal to the cross.
The negation of our pervasive sin is not through anything we did or ever can do, but through the work on the cross. “…God made alive…” is such a great short description of the gospel. God did it. All of it. There is nothing about our faith, merit or any other attributes. There is nothing about some obscure theology or forced interpretation, something that needed to added on to this short line. God did it, gave it to us as a gift, and that is the end of it.
Later on in the letter, we read more about the effects of the gospel, and what God did. These are the fruits we expect from being made alive by God, and the Spirit to which we submit. It tells us to be thankful for these things. Thankfulness is the natural response to a gift. The extent of the gift of eternal spiritual life and blessings is unmeasurable, and require a thankfulness that transcends a single holiday. Our thankfulness for that should be a life of thanks.
This passage describes in more detail what a life thankful to God for the gift looks like. Can we live this type of life without having been made alive with Christ, by God?
Col 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
Col 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Col 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Col 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Col 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
As the ones chosen to receive the gift from God, we show the world the fruits of that transformation of having gone from death to life. We change from being worldly, impatient, arrogant and self-centered to being focused on emulating the character of Jesus. Since we have been forgiven, we should forgive others. Since God shown us His love, we show the fruits of love, being kind, compassionate and holy.
Knowing our future, knowing that our sins will not be held against us, as a result of the gospel, we are thankful. Knowing that we have been changed forever, freed from the scourges of unchanged flesh, united in the body of believers in Christ, we give thanks to God. It brings transcendent peace and wisdom, subject to the rule of Christ in our deepest being.
The richness of the word of God helps us to help one another, to teach and guide each other. It helps us to unite in praise and worship of God, who has blessed us so abundantly. The fruit of of the gospel is in our behavior, in everything we do or say, that it may be to give thanks to God for making us alive in Him. That new life, allowing us to understand, to change for the glory of God, the ability to be honestly and truthfully thankful, is the effect of the gospel.
Thanks be to God.