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A New Spiritual Discipline

Posted by Eric Farmer on

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)

When you start thinking about what you should do to grow in your faith, the disciplines or practices you need, what do you think of? Christians and non-Christians would probably easily come up with similar lists if asked. They might look like this:

Pray.
Go to church.
Read your Bible.
Serve, or give back in some way.

Nothing out of the ordinary here, just simple important practices to grow closer to God. Yet, as I recently read Colossians 2, God used it as an opportunity to add one more important practice to my list.

Thanksgiving.

It’s something I always knew was scattered throughout the Bible and was a good thing, but it was something I always treated like extra credit. I’m thinking I might not be alone in this.

Yet, in these two verses, I was really surprised to see the difference between what was God’s role, and what was mine. The Colossians were commanded to have a continual lifestyle of faith, to “walk in Him.” After that phrase comes four participles in the original language, three being passive (something is being done to us, for us or in us), and one is active (we are the ones to do it). Let’s take a look:

  • ROOTED: A completed action accomplished by God on our behalf. Because of what Jesus accomplished, when we place our faith in Jesus, we are deeply rooted in a way that our identity as beloved children of God and our eternal inheritance are secure.
  • BUILT UP IN HIM: An ongoing process that God is doing in us. A construction metaphor that shows how God is helping us to grow into the people, and church, He designed us to be.
  • ESTABLISHED IN THE FAITH: An ongoing process that God is doing in us. He is helping us to know Him and trust Him more so that we become unshakeable, just like the object of our faith.

So what is the active participle thing that we are called to do?

To be “abounding in thanksgiving.”

In light of the fact that God has rooted us in a faith that can’t be lost or thwarted, and is continually at work helping us become more free from our old ways and transformed into the new people we will be forever in heaven, we are called to be overflowing with thanksgiving.

Many commentators have noted how a lack of thanksgiving is one of the first signs of drifting from God. I’ve noticed this to be true in my own life. An ignorance of blessing or a critical spirit unfortunately comes so easily to me. Thanksgiving or gratitude does not. That’s why I need to make it a practice and a discipline.

And here’s the deal, we can all do this because our thanksgiving shouldn’t be tied to our circumstances. Colossians instead connects thanksgiving to what God has done. So with the holiday season now upon us, there will be great opportunities where we’ll be nudged to reflect and express thanks. Try to find outlets to express your thanks to God. This may be prayer or worship, or it may be finding a small way to do to someone else what God has done for you.

Whatever it looks like, work at making it a practice finding ways to respond to God’s love with thanksgiving.

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