No one taught me how to beg, I was self-taught. I aced the exam when it came to begging for the latest X-Wing Fighter or that second Big Mac at McDonalds. However, I never seemed to grasp the subject of gratitude. It was like the Trigonometry of manners. For some reason I needed a tutor to help me remember to say Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thank youÃ¢â‚¬Â after that wonderful broccoli casserole or send a gushing note of gratitude after the Stetson cologne gift pack.
I think humans were never hard-wired with gratitude. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a learned subject. On this study in Colossians, Paul seems to put this church in detention to make sure they get gratitude down. Five times in this short four-chapter epistle he reminds them about saying thanks. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like the parent after his kid opens the dress socks in front of his aunt, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What do you say?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ He prays they would live a lifestyle of Ã¢â‚¬Å“giving thanksÃ¢â‚¬Â (1:12).
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ A person who follows Christ is Ã¢â‚¬Å“abounding in thanksgivingÃ¢â‚¬Â (2:7).
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Towards the end of his letter he tells them to be steadfast in prayer with Ã¢â‚¬Å“thanksgivingÃ¢â‚¬Â (4:5).
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ To cover all his bases, he tells Ã¢â‚¬Å“whatever you doÃ¢â‚¬Â¦do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to GodÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â (3:17).
But my favorite comes at the end of a long diatribe where Paul lists all these things weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re to do. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like a Christmas list of qualities he desires to see in Christians: Ã¢â‚¬Å“compassionate, kindness, meekness, patienceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦forgivingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦loveÃ¢â‚¬Â¦peaceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â and a ton more. But at the end he adds this small phrase, Ã¢â‚¬Å“And be thankfulÃ¢â‚¬Â (3:15). I know heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s writing this, but for some reason I picture him talking to a bunch of cut-up Christians on how to act and then he adds with a gruff voice, Ã¢â‚¬Å“and for PeteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sake, be thankful!Ã¢â‚¬Â I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if these Colossians never sent him a thank you card for some Stetson cologne, but Paul wanted to convey this idea pretty clearly, Ã¢â‚¬Å“If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve heard it once, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve heard at least five times in this letter, say Ã¢â‚¬ËœThank you!Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â
Perhaps we work so hard to get what we want we never quite pause to see what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been given. We worry so much about what we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have that we miss what we have. Two weeks ago we talked about replacing Ã¢â‚¬Å“gimmieÃ¢â‚¬Â prayers with Ã¢â‚¬Å“gratefulÃ¢â‚¬Â prayers. For one week we refrained from asking God for anything and simply thanked Him for all He has done and given us. I received a couple of responses. One woman in the church turned down a job she really wanted because it would hamper her family life. Rather than pray for another job, she tried something new:
I took your advice and only prayed prayers of thanks for the current job I have and that I know I have more than most, after I declined the job offer yesterday. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you know 2 hours later they called me back with a better offer, and then affordable childcare came our way too! Our God is truly a GREAT and giving God.
Now, God isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t obligated to do that for everyone, but it was a cool story. Another guy told me on the phone, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Man I had to really think about my prayers this week. I realized how programmed I was to simply ask God for stuff without ever thanking Him. When I was left with just saying thanks, I really had to take time and think about what I was saying.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Mom, if you never heard it from me, thanks for those x-wing fighters.