Thankfulness is one of the most important attributes that we can develop. Colossians is full of thanksgiving. Paul gave thanks for the church; he prayed that they might grow in their thanksgiving, we should abound in thanksgiving (2:7); the evidence of our growth is our thankfulness (3:15-17); and our prayers should include thanksgiving (4:2). The Bible has a lot to say about thankfulness and unthankfulness. Unthankfulness is commonly described as a characteristic of pagans and unsaved people. "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." (Romans 1:21, KJV) "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy," (2 Timothy 3:1-2, KJV).
ILL: We exhibit a degree of thanksgiving in life in reverse proportion to the amount of blessings we’ve received. Martin Luther wrote in his book Table Talk: “The greater God’s gifts and works, the less they are regarded.” A hungry man is more thankful for his morsel than a rich man for his heavily-laden table. A lonely woman in a nursing home will appreciate a visit more than a popular woman with a party thrown in her honor.
Thankfulness is the opposite of selfishness. The selfish person says, “I deserve what comes to me. Other people ought to make me happy.” The mature Christian realizes that life is a gift from God and that the blessings of life come only from God’s bountiful hand.
ILL: It is those unexpected blessings that mean so much. Today I got fish.
Christians should be the most thankful people on the face of the earth. Scripture tells us many that we are to be thankful for:
· Who God is (Psalm 30:4)
"Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness." (Psalm 30:4, KJV)
· His nearness (Psalm 75:1)
"Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare." (Psalm 75:1, KJV)
· The opportunity to serve God (1Tim. 1:12-13)
"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." (1 Timothy 1:12-13, KJV)
· The spiritual growth of others (2 Thess.1:3)
"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;" (2 Thessalonians 1:3, KJV)
And what we should be most thankful for:
· Salvation (2 Cor. 9:15)
"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." (2 Corinthians 9:15, KJV)
We should be in the daily habit of giving thanks to the father. Someone once said, “If God’s action and attitude toward his people have been characterized by grace, their response to Him, in life, conduct, and thought should be gratitude.” Thanksgiving helps us in two key areas. First it will help remind us of what God did in salvation. Second it help combat arrogance, because we are constantly reminded that all good gifts come from above. In this particular passage Paul reminds us of some key areas that we should thank God for.
I Inheritance (12)
Why should we give thanks to the Father? Because we don’t deserve the inheritance that he is going to give us. An interesting phrase in verse 12 is “made us meet” which means “qualified us.” We don’t deserve the benefits that come with salvation so God took the initiative to qualify us. He qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints.
Several passages in Ephesians describe our dismal condition before salvation. "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." (Ephesians 2:1-3, KJV)
"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:" (Ephesians 2:12, KJV)
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." (Ephesians 4:17-19, KJV)
What kind of inheritance would that be? We the word “saints” means “holy ones”, so immediately we know that we have fellowship. We can talk to the king any time we desire. We inherit eternal life. We inherit riches beyond imagination.
Think about this. How many of you like new things? I do. Have you ever thought what heaven will be like? According to Revelation 21 God will create a new heaven and new earth. In fact in vs. 5 God said, “I make all things new.” God is a God of amazing creativity. I believe that will constantly making things new. Heaven will not be boring. This means that you can live in your mansion for 1 million years and every morning you wake up, it will be like waking up in a new home. He has a tree that constantly bears new fruit. There will be no tears, no pain, nor sorrow, no tiredness or fatigue and no death. The simple fact that we have an inheritance that beats anything we have on earth should be enough to spur us to thankfulness and service.
II Deliverance (13)
The word “delivered” is the word rhuomai which has as its meaning: to rescue from danger, with the implication that the danger in question is severe and acute. The word “power” has to do with a domain or jurisdiction. Before salvation we are under the oppressive domain of darkness. Our every way is under the thick suffocating blanket of darkness with no hope. Our spiritual eyesight is blinded and we cannot discern spiritual truths. We were in danger of being eternally separated from God by being cast into outer darkness, and most of us didn’t know it.
But the Father rescued us from the imminent danger. The most dramatic of rescues happen not in the physical realm but in the spiritual realm. At a time when we were in danger and helpless to help ourselves, God rescued us. Are you daily amazed and thankful at the dramatic rescue that God performed in your life?
III Transference (13-14)
Not only did God rescue us from the power of darkness, but he transferred us to the kingdom of His Son…light. The word picture is that we were rescued from a power of darkness where we were in bondage to that darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His Son where there is no bondage. We have complete freedom and liberty. The difference is literally night and day.
ILL: The seventeenth-century minister Jeremy Taylor was persecuted for his faith. His house was plundered, his family driven out, and his estate confiscated. He wrote: I am fallen into the hands of publicans and they have taken all from me. What now? They have not taken away my merry countenance, my cheerful spirit, and a good conscience; they have still left me with the providence of God, and all His promises … my hopes of Heaven, and my charity to them, too, and still I sleep and digest, I eat and drink, I read and meditate. And he that hath so many causes of joy, and so great … (should never choose) to sit down upon his little handful of thorns.
Before we could be fit for the kingdom though, we had to have redemption. We were on the auction block as slaves to darkness. God in his lovingkindness decided pay the price for us…redemption. The price of that redemption was his only begotten Son. What a horrible price to pay. The redemption also gave us forgiveness of our sins.
Conclusion: With all of the benefits that we have obtained as Saints, we should be spurred on to further thanksgiving and service.