We keep tabs on a lot of things these days.
We get tracking numbers for every item we order online. We scour stats of our favorite sports teams, even looking at how they perform in a game under specific circumstances. We have programs to track our kids’ use of technology in the home. We even track our steps and activities toward fitness goals. All while we continue to keep an eye on a host of other things.
What are we looking for with all this tracking?
Typically, we are monitoring for progress or patterns. We want to know how close our package is to its destination and how many more steps we need to take before we hit our goal for the day. We watch for patterns in the websites our children use, and we look for deviations from their normal routines.
But what if…what if we tracked our speech, and counted up all the words we use on a daily basis. What trends would stick out? Is our speech different at home than it is at work, or school, or church? Which words do we use the most, and does it change based upon our location?
When we track through Paul’s entire letter to the church in Colossae, certain words stick out. This is an especially important observation to make, considering the letter is rather short, consisting of only four chapters.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you
It’s only the third verse in and we have the first time we come across the word “thanks”. However, it is the first of six times in the letter. While that might not seem like much emphasis, it comes to about one mentioning every 14 sentences.
So what is Paul saying about giving “thanks”?
1:3 – We always thank God…when we pray for you
1:11,12 – May you be…giving thanks to the Father
2:6,7 – walk in Him…overflowing with thankfulness
3:15 – Be thankful. Let the message of the Messiah dwell richly among you…
3:17 – Do everything…giving thanks to God the Father
4:2 – Stay alert in prayer with thanksgiving
As a bonus, Paul also says in 3:16 – sing…with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Notice how every time Paul brings up giving thanks or having gratitude, it is directed toward God? Whenever we stop and honestly thank someone, we are shifting the focus off of ourselves. We recognize others for what they have done for us. We recognize them for who they are and what we have become because of their influence.
Being thankful is focus-shifting experience. Being thankful towards God puts him in the proper place in our lives. We’ll explore each of these thanks-giving sections as we work our way through the letter to the believers in Colossae, but we should probably stop and ask ourselves:
Imagine if one out of every 14 sentences that came out of our mouths, we were thankful to God. How would our speech change? How would our mindset change?