It’s one thing to say you are thankful for this or that. But what about living thankfully? You can be thankful for any thing—from the clothes you wear to the food you eat—any circumstance that brings a reward or personal satisfaction—or, any one you love—your beloved partner and your dear children. And yet, shouldn’t the entire Christian life show an attitude of gratitude for all the blessings God has showered upon each and every one of us?
The Apostle Paul gives us some insight into the characteristics of living a thankful life. It all revolves around the message of Christ and how we let him direct our lives. In Colossians 3:15-17 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him,” (New International Version, NIV).
The true mark of a Christian is not only to be thankful, just as we are admonished to do, but (1) having the peace of Christ in our hearts; (2) teaching and admonishing one another through public worship; and (3) applying every word or deed in the name or authority of Jesus while giving thanks to God through him. This is how the message of Christ transforms our minds and our hearts and prepares us for the kingdom to come.
You can spot persons who live thankful lives like this. They are known for having peace of mind even when they have experienced some kind of tragedy in their lives. They are dedicated to their church and regular worship. They are grounded in the message of God’s Word and simply live it with thanksgiving in their hearts.
Lois Stahling is one such person. In the prime of her life, she suffered a stroke and has been confined to a wheel chair. She is mentally alert but due to her physical condition cannot walk or do many normal activities. Lois lives in a convalescent home and the only time she gets out is once a week when she goes to church. The highlight of her week is Sunday morning when someone from the church gives her a ride to the services.
One Sunday, the pastor came by to pick Lois up. Because the pastor’s car is a compact, it was difficult for her to get in. But she had with her a plain looking fiberglass board which fits under her legs allowing her to slide pretty easily from the wheelchair to the seat in the car.
One day, the lady pulled the pastor aside and said, “Do you know what I thank God for everyday?”
“What’s that, Lois?”
She answered, “I am thankful for my slide board. Because then I can come to church.” (SermonCentral, Pastor Aaron Burgess, Echo Church)
Lois was not just thankful. She lived her thankfulness in spite of her circumstances. I imagine her attitude of gratitude was an inspiration to her church and all who knew her.
Thanksgiving is a reminder to all of us how important it is to live it and not just give it. We can be a blessing to others as they see the peace of Christ and his message being applied in our lives each day. Our dedication of worship and praise brings encouragement to others who are also dealing with their own challenges day by day. It’s what thankful living is all about as we seek first the kingdom of God.
And Good News to YOU!