“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15, NIV)
We practice a lot of things. We practice our golf swing, our musical instrument, even our profession. And as Christ-followers we try to practice our faith. One way to do that, as the apostle Paul says, is to practice thankfulness.
I’ve got to tell you, it’s one of the best practices I’ve ever developed. When I feel down, or discouraged about things, it’s a huge help to go on a “gratitude walk.” I just go out for a stroll and search for things I’m happy about. It usually doesn’t take long and all of a sudden I’m feeling much better about my life. When I just pause a moment, I realize there are a lot of blessings to be thankful for.
Better yet, the biggest thing that I’m thankful for is something I don’t even need to go on a walk to discover. All I have to do is open my Bible and read the good news. Christ has died. Christ is risen! And that means my sins are forgiven and heaven is my home.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” Paul writes. What greater peace is there than the peace that now exists between me and God because of Christ? That peace wasn’t always there. Once, my sin had caused me to be an enemy of God. But no more! In Christ, my sins are forgiven. My friendship with God is restored.
Paul reminds me that same peace also exists between me and my brothers and sisters in Christ - "since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
“And be thankful.”
Three short words. And yet so powerful.
Todd Kashdan is associate professor of psychology at George Mason University. He is also Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Social Anxiety, Character Strengths and Related Phenomena at George Mason. He is interested in the study, assessment and cultivation of well-being. His book "Curious?" which outlines ways people can enhance and maintain their well-being, was released in April 2009.
Intriguingly, Kashdan says that if he had to name three elements that are essential for creating happiness and meaning in life, based on his research, it would be:
- meaningful relationships
- gratitude, and
- living in the present moment with an attitude of openness and curiosity
I find it interesting that all three of these can be found in the Bible.
Meaningful relationships? That goes all the way back to the book of Genesis, and God’s evaluation of Adam, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” It’s why Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV)
Gratitude? Read the passage above. Or this one: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6, NIV)
Living in the present? Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV)
But to me, the greatest of these is thankfulness.