Living Fully, Living Gratefully: An Invitation

By Mark D. Roberts

February 24, 2020

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:6-7 (NRSV)


Do you ever feel as if there’s more to life than what you’re experiencing? Perhaps you’re feeling unfulfilled at work or in your primary relationships. It seems like things ought to be better. Or, even if you’re thriving most of the time, you have a sense that your life could be richer and fuller . . . somehow.

That is, in fact, what Jesus offers. Though we sometimes focus mainly on the “life after life” dimension of Christian salvation, Jesus wants us to live right now with greater purpose, fruitfulness, and joy. In John 10, he describes himself in contrast to the thief who seeks only to hurt the “sheep.” Jesus, on the contrary, “came so that they could have life – indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest” (John 10:10, CEB). Living life to the fullest! That’s what Jesus offers to all who believe in him.

In the New Testament letter of Colossians, the Apostle Paul talks about full living from a slightly different perspective: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). In studying this passage recently, I was struck by a verbal connection between it and John 10:10. In the original Greek of Colossians 2:7, “abounding in thanksgiving” is perisseuontes en eucharistia. In John 10:10, “live life to the fullest” (CEB) or “have it abundantly” (NRSV) translates the phrase perisson echosin. Even if you don’t know Greek, you can see the similarity between perisseuontes and perisson. Both words come from the same Greek root—which conveys a sense of being extraordinary, remarkable, or abundant.

Jesus came to offer extraordinary, remarkable, and abundant life. We will experience this quality of life when we live in him with extraordinary, remarkable, and abundant thanksgiving. Living fully necessarily includes living gratefully. Of course the abundant life of Christ involves more than gratitude alone. But thanksgiving is an essential element of this life. This is clear from Scripture—and, as we will see, from recent psychological research.

For those of us who seek to live fully in Jesus, biblical truth is foundational. We can learn much about gratitude from passages throughout the Bible. But, interestingly enough, Paul’s short letter to the Colossians uses the language of gratitude more intensively than any other book in the New Testament. By paying close attention to Colossians, we can learn much about living gratefully. And, therefore, we can learn much about living fully. Colossians invites us to experience, not just ordinary life in anticipation of the eternal life yet to come, but also extraordinary life in which the eternal has begun to permeate the present moment.

Today we begin a devotional series I’m calling “Living Fully, Living Gratefully.” In the next few weeks, we’ll look closely at what Colossians teaches us about giving thanks. We will also pay attention to recent research on gratitude and its impact on our lives. It should come as no surprise that when we follow biblical guidance, we experience not just life, but life to the fullest. Colossians invites us to live this way through “abounding in thanksgiving.”

Something to Think About:

Do you ever feel as if you’re not living life to the fullest? When do you feel this way? Why?

What helps you to live well? What, for you, are the essential components of abundant life?

Do you associate gratitude with living well? If so, why? If not, why not?

Something to Do:

Talk with your small group or a good friend about what it means to live life to the fullest. Be honest about your own life and how you’re doing these days. Where do you need growth? Healing? Guidance? Blessing?


Lord Jesus, thank you for coming so that we might live life to the fullest. Thank you for showing us what abundant life is all about, and for giving your life so that we might enter into this new quality of existence.

I am intrigued, Lord, by the connection between abundant living and abundant thanksgiving. Help me to grow in my understanding of this connection. Help me to grow in gratitude so that I might live with greater purpose, fruitfulness, and joy. Amen.

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God Worked in Creation, Making Humans Workers in His Image (Colossians 1:1–14)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

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,...

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