…abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:7
I was struck by the last 3 words in this verse last week. I had a hunch that the Greek word for “abounding” was the one that Paul uses often in his letters. So I got out my Greek New Testament and sure enough, I was right (for once!). This word has to do with “overflowing the set boundaries.” Think of your favorite coffee mug. There is a set boundary on that mug that you dare not go over no matter how tired you are when you wake up. You may fill it up to the rim, but you won’t keep pouring that coffee into the mug without your internal “when” speaking up (unless, of course, you really aren’t awake yet.).
That’s the idea Paul has here. He wants the Colossian church to “overflow the set boundaries” when it comes to thanksgiving. We naturally set boundaries in our lives for the things that we will give thanks for: grace, eternal life, family, job, food, etc. We should be thanking God for all of those things. But do we ever consider thanking God for the trials and the hardships and the sufferings we experience?
Paul’s words are a gentle rebuke to us. We should be thanking God for everything that happens because we know that He can and will work in and through them for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). We should be overflowing with thanksgiving. That’s exactly what Paul does himself in the letter to the Colossians. We see him discipling this church to overflow with thanksgiving because he overflows with thanksgiving (see Colossians 1:3; 12; 2:7; 3:15, 16; 4:2).
Kent Hughes says, “Thankfulness is a good test of our spiritual state. A thankless spirit betrays a life which is no longer focusing on the greatness of Christ.”
Wanna be more thankful? Focus on Jesus. Rehearse the Gospel, which is exactly what Paul does numerous times in his letter to the Colossians (for instance, see Colossians 1:9-14). May we become disciples who abound and overflow and spill thanksgiving everywhere. May we never stop pouring thanksgiving when our sinful hearts want to say, “When.” Why not be thankful today? Thank God for all the spiritual benefits that you have in the Gospel. Thank God for all the material things you enjoy (coffee, warm water in your shower, a bed, friends, etc). Thank God for all the trials which are conforming you to the image of Jesus. We truly have a lot to be thankful for. Suddenly, it seems easy to be abounding in thanksgiving.