With thankful hearts

Published 7:16 pm Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Charles Qualls

What does thankfulness “look” like? What does thankfulness “act” like, or “sound” like? One glance at the calendar and it’s obvious. We have arrived at Thanksgiving central. This is the week.

Suddenly, people who are not normally given to delivering speeches, addresses or otherwise waxing eloquent — will sidle up to a table that strains under the load of casseroles, salads, breads and meats. As we do, they will attempt to give voice to a whole year’s worth of gratitude. Then, someone will offer a prayer of blessing that does the same.

What if we spent more of the calendar — than just one week — looking, acting and sounding like people with thankful hearts?

The apostle Paul was writing to a church in Colossians 1: 11-20. He was in a thankful mood as he wrote. Of course, it’s not uncommon for the “greetings” in a letter to express kind sentiments. However as we begin the text, he’s past that. He’s on to business at this point.

Still, you can’t help but notice that his first business is to express some very specific feelings because he and his mission associates are writing with thankful hearts. Earlier, he has mentioned all the good things that they have heard about the believers in the church at Colossae. Somehow, they have managed to become known for their faith in Jesus Christ. Anyone can talk a big game. There are a lot of talkers in Christendom. A LOT of them. I have found over the years that I have much more value for the people whose lives are demonstrating substance — rather than “talk” about the faith.

Speaking of, he had specifically noted that they had a “love for all the saints.” He mentions that their love for each other seemed to spring up specifically because of the hope in which their faith was grounded.

He also mentions that their faith is now bearing fruit. Coming from Paul, the guy who in another letter explained specifically what he thought those “fruits” to be, this is high praise.

Finally, just a few verses ahead of our Scripture today he has made a subtle observation. Let’s not let it slip past us. They had not only heard the Gospel, but their lives also served notice that they actually comprehended what they had heard.

They had not seen God, but they came close enough to understanding the life and essence of Jesus Christ that they had seen something special. The One in whom invisible God may be seen!

They made Paul thankful. He had no choice, in the face of what they had become. Make no mistake about it, the Colossian Christians weren’t perfect. They were a little rough around the edges within, and like most churches they couldn’t see their own vulnerable points of belief that made the apostle more than a bit nervous. Later, he even spoke to a couple of crisis points among them.

That’s all for a Bible study or a sermon to come later. But all in all, there was a lot to like. Paul was thankful for them! So, the calendar prompts me to ask what is something that you find yourself “thankful” for these days?

Paul said that Jesus Christ himself had come and lived among us. He also said that this Christ was the visible image of the invisible. He had heard so much good about the Colossian Christians. They seemed to embrace the gospel in some ways that actually looked like Jesus. Ways that acted like Jesus. They showed their gratitude to God by living in ways that reflected the life and teachings of Jesus.

Of course they weren’t perfect. But, they seem to be living the faith. In some ways, they looked like Jesus. Paul had no choice but to give thanks for what was going on at Colossae, because it was one of the few places where people who hadn’t seen the Christ could at least see Christ-likeness.

Don’t you want to be a part of a body of believers like that? Don’t you want to work to be sure that your church reflects the life and love of Jesus Christ? We have a lot of fine churches here in our Franklin area. I pray that if you don’t have a place where you can see the very essence of Christ reflected, you’ll find one and be a part of what is going on. That’s a lot to be thankful for.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.