Thanks be to God, writes the Apostle Paul to the Christians gathered at Colossians. Thanks to God, the hope of the gospel has spread beyond the reach of the Apostle, to places Paul had yet to visit. Paul opens this letter with a “thank you note” to God and with this, reminds believers everywhere, including us, to be thankful for what God has accomplished in our lives, in our world.
In his prayers, Paul prayed that the truth of the gospel bear fruit in the lives of the Colossians, that they might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, they might endure with patience to joyfully serve God. Though Paul had yet to meet the Colossians, he had heard good reports of their faith and love in the Spirit of God. This letter is sent both as a “thank you note” to God for their faithfulness and a way of praying “Please, God, keep them in faith.”
Paul challenges the believers to lead lives worthy of the LORD. This challenge reaches us today. If we expect too little from ourselves and each other, we become lax in our faith and lose sight of what God is doing in our lives and in our world today. For the gospel to bear fruit in our lives, we need to joyfully respond to this challenging question, “Are you leading a life worthy of the LORD?”
Our lives are like thank-you notes to God. We say thank you to God not only with our prayers, but in the ways we live our lives, the ways we make use of the gifts God has given us.
There was a man named Millard Fuller who had a simple idea — portable, comfortable seats. He invented the vinyl cushions you see people carrying to baseball and football games. A millionaire by age 30, you would think he had a lot to be thankful for. You would think he was able to enjoy the good life.
But this wasn’t the case. He found himself anxious and bitter. Rather than providing security, his wealth created uneasiness within him. He wondered who his true friends were. He struggled with how to best use his wealth. He had everything he could possible want, but peace of mind.
In the midst of his unsettledness, he heard about a Christian community in south Georgia where people lived simply, farming the land, and caring for the needs of those around them. Out of desperation, he left his office one day and went down to this place called Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia. There he met a Baptist minister named Clarence Jordan and the two of them together developed the idea for Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity provides an opportunity for lower-income families and individuals to work for a home of their own. People who can’t afford their own home are able to work, along with volunteers for a home that is eventually sold to them at cost, with no interest. What began as a local mission in South Georgia became a worldwide program that has offered hope for thousands of people.
It was through Habitat that he found peace with God and within himself. It was only when he was able to find a way to use his creative gifts for the good of others that he was able to find peace, that he began to enjoy life. His life became a thank-you note to God as he was able to put his gifts to use for the good of God’s creation.
There are many ways our lives can become thank-you notes to God. God has made each of us unique, able to do unique things. God has given us the desire to serve in different ways and we bring glory to God when our service, whatever that service may be, is in the Spirit of Christ, who joyfully served God even to the end.
Paul challenges the Colossians, and through them, us, to lead lives worthy of the LORD. Joyfully give thanks to God each day for the blessings we have received to live life abundantly. On our own, we can grow to expect that the good life is something we can achieve by doing the right thing, or something we’ve earned by who we are. With God’s help, we come to see things differently. All of life is a gift from God. Our greatest joy, our chief aim, is to glorify God, to enjoy God forever. It is to say with our prayers and write with our lives, a thank-you note to God, from whom all blessings flow.