“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. “ Colossians 2:6-7
Nothing mars the beauty of a child or marks the immaturity of an adult quite like the attitude of ingratitude. One of our earliest parenting battles involved teaching our oldest child to say, “Thank you.” We were totally embarrassed one night by her stubborn resistance to saying those two words. We were in the home of two special people who had done so much for her. Jack and Sharon Ross had wisely walked us through the nine months of waiting, had been there for her birth when our parent’s could not, and had been a huge part of Ashley’s first year of life.
While serving in Houston, Texas, we made a return visit to Jack and Sharon’s home, during the trauma and drama of “The Terrible Two’s.” After Jack had done something particularly nice for Ashley, we asked her to say, “Thank you.” She replied, “No.” That launched a battle of the wills between Dana and Ashley that included three marches down the hallway to the bedroom, followed by three distinct popping sounds. Each time Ashley would return rubbing her behind, but still shaking her head. On the final trip she said defiantly, “Thank you.” Jack and Sharon had the good grace to stifle their laughter, throughout the ordeal. Jack said, “Don’t ever give up.” Wise words.
Paul describes the early Christians as “overflowing with gratitude.” This is centuries before the birth of the The American Dream , and the expression of it’s peculiar offspring, Health and Wealth Christianity. These people were facing persecution, and rejection for what they believed. Still, they did not hold on to their faith with a thin lipped, tight lipped grimace. They revealed to their community and culture an excessive, extravagant, and exuberant spirit of thanksgiving.
The floodgates of gratitude were unleashed when they…
“Received” – The came along side of Jesus. They did not just join in. They were all in. They take their place alongside of another Him, not in a private initiation, but in public identification with Him.
“Christ Jesus The Lord.” – They put an end to their rebellious attitude. They embraced Jesus as their Champion, They were not embracing a concept, but entering into a relationship, on a first name basis with the love of their life, Jesus. They lowered the flag of their rebellious state, and pledged allegiance to their new King.
“Walk in Him” – Their destination was Heaven, but they were filled with the joy of the journey with Jesus. The word walk is so simple, but it means the sense of direction with not only with Him, but it is about Him. The path that is chosen is not up for discussion or debate. It is more of a dance than a forced march, and always Jesus leads.
“Firmly rooted” – Grounded in the love of God, the character of Christ, and the fruit of the Spirit, the early Christians remained in consistent companionship with Jesus. The Fruit flowed from The Root. The not only bloomed where they were planted. Their fruit was sweet, not bitter.
“Built up in Him” - Trust in Jesus was the foundation, and the base upon which everything was built. Their lives had integrity because their faith was placed in and aligned with their Cornerstone,
“Established in your faith” - The height of building is established and rests on the foundation. The integrity of a Christian rests upon the reliability of their Foundation. These early Christians rested in Jesus.
“Just as you were instructed” – These grateful Christians never outgrew their dependence upon their earliest instructions. The way they came on is the way they continued on. When in doubt, they read the direction, and followed the original instructions. They did not revise, improvise, or compromise the truth. When the tests came, they had The Answer. His name was Jesus.
“Overflowing with gratitude.” - These early believers were marked by abundant joy. The fruit of their faith was a full fragrance and an overwhelming aroma. They lived life with extravagant excess. They poured out Jesus from lives that were far from perfect. They were forgiven. They were cracked, but useful vessels. Their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was not held in or sealed in tight containers sitting on the shelf. Their faith was always leaking out, spilling over and running out into the street. When the crises of life squeezed them, they spewed out what was on their label. Those who encountered these early believers walked away with Jesus all over them.
The word for gratitude is rooted in a response of thanksgiving that is generated by an act of forgiveness. Anyone who has ever had a debt forgiven knows what this feels like. Removing the crushing weight of a mountain of debt brings relief. Those who experience it don’t have to be entertained to be happy. The instant that the debt is taken off of their backs, a smile hits their face.
Note to self: When you received Jesus in your heart, your face should have been informed about His forgiveness of your debts. Don’t forget to remind your face on a regular basis.
Praying in the name of Jesus, and thanking God for pouring out His gift of love will develop the attitude of gratitude. Thankless people are prayerless people who need to be reminded that they have been forgiven. Prayerless people act like ungrateful children, not mature believers. Prayer will put a smile on the face of anyone who discovers what it means to receive God’s love and live debt free. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!