“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” Romans 1.8
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,” 1 Corinthians 1.4
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,” Ephesians 1.16
“I thank God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,” Philippians 1.3-4
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,” Colossians 1.3
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,” 1 Thessalonians 1.2
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” 2 Thessalonians 1.3
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,” 1 Timothy 1.12
“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.” 2 Timothy 1.3
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints,” Philemon 4
You don’t have to read far in the Apostle Paul’s letters before you get to thanksgiving. Of all his epistles only 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Titus lack an address of thanks in the first chapter. But what made Paul so thankful? This was a man that had been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, robbed, hated by both Jews and Gentiles, hungry, cold - and some of his letters were even written while in prison! (2 Cor. 11.23-29) So what did the apostle have to be so thankful for? Paul remembered something that we so easily forget.
Not blessing, not money, not health, not success, not results, not comfort, not good works. The gospel. The gospel is an announcement - a proclamation of something thats already taken place. The gospel is not something we can be to other people. The gospel is not something to be lived out. The gospel is not simply what you believe to get into Heaven.
The gospel is more than that. The gospel is something that's already been done. It's good news, not good advice. Jesus died for us. He set us free from sin and death, and made us alive to obedience and joy! When we were unable to save ourselves, Someone else saved us and made us co-heirs with Himself to all the riches of God.
Paul remembered this, and in his letter to the church at Colossae (written while imprisoned) he encouraged them to remember it too. He says, “as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Col. 2.6-7) Evoking imagery of trees and building - things that need strong foundations - Paul exhorts them to not forget the foundation. And the result?
Abounding in thanksgiving.
Christians should overflow with thanksgiving. When we forget about Jesus, we forget to be thankful. This holiday, remember the foundation of your faith - Christ Jesus the Lord. Just as you received him, so walk in him. You received him humbly and without any doing of your own. Walk in him the same way - humbly and thankfully.