The Letters of Paul
Paul writes to encourage an exemplary church. Despite their affliction, they need to stand firm and continue waiting for Jesus.
Paul didn’t know the Colossian church personally. Still, Paul takes the time to write to them and, as we’ll see, he takes the time to pray for them. In so doing he sets an example for us to follow. We don’t want to get stuck in the rut of thinking that the only things worth praying about are the things that matter directly to us.
We are now firmly into the application section of Paul’s letter. Not much deep theology here. Paul tells us very straightforwardly what is right and what is wrong. The only proper response to this passage is to believe it and act accordingly. At the end, however, we’ll talk a bit about why Christians so often don’t seem to get this right.
I just left the City-County Building, where I filed forms for a property tax exemption on a house that was donated to the church a while back. While there I asked about our most current bill for that property, which said we owed $0.00, due to an overpayment. The lady there simply reiterated that we had overpaid.
“How did we overpay? I don’t believe we ever paid more than what our bills told us to pay. Why would we pay more?”
She said, “Our records show that someone paid toward your bill on March 15, 2010 – just last month. So it looks like you are covered for the year. That’s why your bill says $0.00.”
So, to whoever paid that: Thank you!!
“Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God.”
– 2 Corinthians 9:10-12 (NKJV)
A thankful heart is a valuable asset. The New Testament reminds us to thank God “always for all things” (Ephesians 5:20) and to “in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). That’s a pretty tall order for most of us. Yet even in the midst of prayer about things that would otherwise make us anxious, the reminder remains that these prayers should be offered “with thanksgiving.”
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
If Paul could write that and mean it from his prison cell, I can probably pay attention at my desk. What’s more, if this attitude of prayer and thanksgiving leads, as it does, to God’s peace guarding my heart and mind, then I will have already received all that I need to keep going. God’s peace is the only acceptable substitute for a prayer that has yet to be answered. No doubt this very “peace of God” helped that apostle display such remarkable perseverance. I want to be like him when I grow up.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. -2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NKJV)
Generally speaking, the human race contains too many griping, ungrateful goons. I deeply regret being one of them. We fail to appreciate the hard work or hardships of others while often feeling unappreciated. Sometimes the best we can do is realize we’re not thankful and tactfully hold back our whining, but thankless sentiments rarely disappear due to mere lack of expression. Another step is still needed, namely, the positive, intentional cultivation of a thankful heart.
The Scriptures say that we should:
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)
Moreover, we are reminded to:
“[Give] thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)
Now that’s a pretty far cry from where I am when I first get up each morning. Nonetheless, some deliberate effort on my part, in time, might pay off. Here’s to an intentionally more thankful 2008.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” – Psalms 103:1- 2 (NKJV)