Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
Seneca, the great philosopher of ancient Rome (4 bc–ad 65), was once accused by the empress Messalina of adultery. After the Senate sentenced Seneca to death, the emperor Claudius instead exiled him to Corsica, perhaps because he suspected the charge was false. This reprieve may have shaped Seneca’s view of thankfulness when he wrote: “homicides, tyrants, thieves, adulterers, robbers, sacrilegious men, and traitors there always will be, but worse than all these is the crime of ingratitude.”
A contemporary of Seneca’s, the apostle Paul, may have agreed. In Romans 1:21, he wrote that one of the triggers for the downward collapse of humankind was that they refused to give thanks to God. Writing to the church at Colossae, three times Paul challenged his fellow believers in Christ to gratitude. He said we should be “overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:7). As we let God’s peace “rule in [our] hearts,” we’re to respond with thankfulness (3:15). In fact, gratitude ought to characterize our prayers (4:2).
God’s great kindnesses to us remind us of one of life’s great realities. He not only deserves our love and worship, He also deserves our thankful hearts. Everything that’s good in life comes from Him (James 1:17).
With all we’ve been given in Christ, gratitude should be as natural as breathing. May we respond to God’s gracious gifts by expressing our gratitude to Him.
What are some of the biggest, most enduring blessings you’ve received in life? What everyday blessings have you experienced that are often easy to forget?
Loving Father, forgive me for the times I’ve taken You and Your blessings for granted. Create in me a thankful heart, so I’ll honor and praise You for all You’ve done and are doing.
In Colossians 4:2–6, Paul draws our attention to his commitment to the Great Commission. Before we tell others about Jesus, Paul instructs us to spend time talking with God about those who don’t yet believe in Him. The Greek word translated “devote” (v. 2) means “to give attention to; to spend much time together.” Effective evangelism begins with praying for opportunities to share our faith in Jesus, asking for courage to talk about Him and for clarity of our message (vv. 3–4). We’re to “make the most of every opportunity” when it comes to sharing the good news (v. 5). Paul advocates living a life that draws others to Christ (v. 6). Jesus spoke of letting our “light shine before others, that they may see [our] good deeds” (Matthew 5:15–16). Peter tells us to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks . . . the reason for the hope that [we] have” (1 Peter 3:15).