Preceding the Biblical instructions for music and worship ministry in Colossians 3:16-17 is a remarkable reminder for us to “Let the peace of God rule our hearts . . . [with thanksgiving].” We often quote verses that remind us to show mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, unity and love. Certainly, these qualities are very important but, the instruction continues in verse 15 by urging us to be thankful . . . as the peace of God rules our hearts. That, my fellow worshipers, is a gratitude attitude. Be Thankful.
We are Called to “Be Thankful.” The Bible reminds us to “enter his presence with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name” (Psalm 100:4). A grateful, gracious, indebted, appreciative, approving, thankful heart must be the driving force behind our praise to God. We have been called to live a life of gratitude. People are not impressed by our songs of praise if we don’t live a life of honest, grateful appreciation to God for what He has done and is doing in our hearts.
We are Commanded to “Be Thankful.” Being thankful in Colossians 3:15 is not a recommendation, suggestion or proposal. It is a command. Be Thankful in the good and the bad. Be Thankful - through the times of peace and storm. Be Thankful - during sickness and health. Be Thankful! - during moments of strength and weakness. In other words, it is the will of God in Christ concerning you to give thanks in ALL circumstances (I Thess. 5:18). And, all means all.
We Choose to “Be Thankful.” Living a life of gratitude is a choice. The Apostle Paul was in prison when writing the Epistle to the brothers and sisters at Colossi. Yet, in chapter 4:2-4 he reminds us to “Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude . . . so that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ (The Message). How could a person be grateful while enduring prison? Paul the Apostle chose to be grateful . . . even during a time of trial and hardship. We can do the same.
We Cultivate Thankfulness. There is much truth to the statement, “practice makes perfect.” So, just as we practice developing skill and expertise as musicians, we must cultivate, practice and rehearse “a gratitude attitude.” Practice a grateful, gracious, and thankful attitude in your home, at work, and through your daily actions. Practice “a gratitude attitude” with your staff and fellow worship leaders during the week … and, on Sunday. Practice the “gratitude attitude” while waiting for the sound engineer to set the EQ for your next song. Enjoy practicing the “gratitude attitude” while standing in the line at the grocery store. Get the point?
It is when our attitude (Being Thankful) demonstrates a commitment to a lifestyle of gratitude that God shows his favor on the works of our hands and the things we do. Remember, God has called and commanded us to demonstrate a “gratitude attitude.” We choose to be thankful in all things. And, our “gratitude attitude” is cultivated through our daily praise and worship of Jesus.
Dr. Vernon M. Whaley