November 16, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Colossians 1:3-4
In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints.
The example of the Apostle Paul encourages us to give thanks to God, not just once in a while, but often, regularly, consistently. Even when we’re going through difficult times, we can pay attention to ways in which God is present and gracious. Consistent gratitude lifts our spirits and opens our hearts to receive yet more of God’s grace.
This devotion is part of the series: Thanksgiving Preseason.
Early in his letter to the Christians in Colossae, the Apostle Paul writes, “In our prayers for you we always thank God” (1:3). As he considers their solid faith and strong love, Paul is grateful for God’s work among them. He makes sure to offer thanks as he prays, not just every now and then, but “always.”
The word “always” (pantote in Greek) in “we always thank God” reminds me of a similar verse in Ephesians: “[Be filled with the Spirit] . . . giving thanks to God the Father at all times [pantote] and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). I’ve written before about the fact that when I was a young Christian, I worried about verses like this. How would it have been possible, I wondered, for Paul to pray “always” or “at all times”? Wasn’t this claim a considerable exaggeration? Moreover, if I took what Paul says literally, how in the world could I ever be expected to imitate his example? It seemed impossible to be thanking God always.
In this season of my life, I am no longer worried about what Paul says about thanking God always. I have come to understand that he is not claiming to be verbally praying to God at every moment when he talks about always giving thanks. Rather, he is using the word “always” in a figurative sense. He means that he consistently thanks God for the Colossians, as he does for the other churches entrusted to his care.
The title of today’s Life for Leaders devotion is “Giving Thanks Consistently.” I could have chosen “regularly” or “continually” or “frequently” or “often.” Those words capture the sense of the word “always.” Paul’s example encourages us to offer thanks to God, not just for brief moments every now and then, and not just when we experience exceptional blessings, but regularly, continually, frequently, often, and, indeed, consistently. If we pay attention to God’s faithfulness in our lives, if we acknowledge all the ways in which God has been gracious to us and to others, then we will be able to give thanks always.
Paul’s example also suggests that we also can adopt a posture of gratitude in which we regularly attend to God’s gifts to us and regularly offer thanks to God, either in words or in the prayers of our hearts. I’ll have more to say about this in tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion. For now, let me encourage you to consider the following questions.
Would you say that you consistently give thanks to God? If so, why? If not, why not?
What keeps you from regularly giving thanks to God?
What helps you to give thanks to God consistently?
Write three good things in your gratitude journal. Following Paul’s example, you might thank God for people for whom you are especially grateful.
Gracious God, thank you for the people who have made such a difference in my life. They are gifts from you to me and I receive them gratefully. Thank you also for your grace at work in their lives.
Specifically, Lord, I thank you today for . . . .
All praise be to you, O God, giver of such good gifts! Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: From an Attitude of Ingratitude to Gratitude.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.