Summary: A believer shows: 1) Thankfulness in Themselves (Col. 3:15-16a), 2) Thankfulness to Others (Col. 3:16b) & 3) Thankfulness to God (Col. 3:15-17)
Thanksgiving is a time when we can formally recognize and give thanks for the obvious and more abstract things that shape our lives here in Canada.
The first recognized Canadian thanksgiving was held in 1578, at least forty years earlier than that of our friends to the south. In a misguided attempt to discover a northern passage to the Orient, English explored Martin Forbisher succeeded in establishing a settlement in New Foundland. In order to give thanks for surviving the arduous sea journey, Frobisher celebrated with a harvest feast.
The Parlament of Canada, formally declared the second Monday of October as “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”.
Gratitude comes naturally to believers in response to all God has done (Eph. 5:20; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:18; Heb. 13:15). One of the counts in Paul’s indictment of (unbelievers is ingratitude, which he explained) in his letter to the Romans is that, “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21). If thanksgiving is God’s due from all humanity for his gifts of creation and providence, how much more is it his due from those who have received the surpassing gift of his grace? (Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (157). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul shows: three aspects of thankfulness. A believer shows: 1) Thankfulness in Themselves (Colossians 3:15-16a), 2) Thankfulness to Others (Colossians 3:16b) and 3) Thankfulness to God (Colossians 3:15-17)
1) Thankfulness in Ourselves: (Colossians 3:15)
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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). (ESV)
Eirçnç (peace) includes both the concept of an agreement, pact, treaty, or bond, and that of an attitude of rest or security. Both aspects are in view here. Objectively, believers are at peace with God: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). The war between the believer and God is over, and the treaty was paid for by the blood of Christ. That is the message of the Gospel
Because of that, believers are at rest, and secure. Paul told the Philippians that the “peace of God… shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). Here he calls it the peace of Christ because it is the peace He brings (cf. John 14:27; Eph. 2:14).
Rule is from brabeuô, a word used only here in the New Testament (Although a compound form appears in Col. 2:18). It was used to describe the activity of an umpire in deciding the outcome of an athletic contest. The peace of Christ guides believers in making decisions. When faced with a choice, the believer should consider two factors. First, is it consistent with the fact that the believer and Christ are now at peace and thus on the same side? Does it perpetuate that oneness with the Lord that is the believer’s possession? Second, will it leave a believer with a deep and abiding peace in their heart? These two factors are also the two greatest deterrents to sin in the believer’s life. The Gospel makes it clear, that sin offends Christ, with whom a believer is positionally at peace, and thereby shatters the rest and security in their heart.
To live in peace does not mean that suddenly all differences of opinion would be eliminated, but it would require that people work together despite their differences. This kind of tranquility and cooperation can’t come from mere human effort. It requires God’s help to arbitrate and enable people to get along. The word rule comes from the language of athletics: Paul wanted the believers to let Christ’s peace be umpire or referee in their hearts. Peace would arbitrate, decide any argument, and thereby restrain any of the passions of the (sinful flesh) that might threaten. Peace would settle any friction and strife so the believers could remain strong and unified. Peace must rule hearts. As in 3:1, the heart is the center of a person’s being, the center of spiritual and moral life. If peace rules there, it rules every believer’s entire life and, by extension, the life of the church. When we exercise the traits of compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and, above all, love, we are going to face conflict. Not everyone will be playing by these rules. Not all Christians show the self-restraint needed in conflict. How can we deal with these conflicts and live as God wants? When we are hurt by others or our gracious efforts are rebuked, we must have an umpire inside that says, “Peace.” We need to call a time-out on our passions and reactions; then we can think about the peace that God has won for us in Christ’s death. Paul does not teach “peace at any price.” Instead, he encourages believers to embrace God’s peace and be under his control as they make courageous moral decisions for the truth and the right. (Barton, B. B., & Comfort, P. W. (1995). Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Life application Bible commentary (218). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.).