16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The Thanksgiving holiday has a long tradition here in the U.S. The Plymouth Colony observed the first Thanksgiving in 1621. George Washington and other early Presidents directed the country to celebrate Thanksgiving in an on-again, off-again fashion until Abraham Lincoln made it an official annual federal holiday during the Civil War. However, the tradition of expressing thankfulness to God goes back much further than that. Thank offerings in addition to tithes were introduced in Leviticus chapter seven and that tradition is further entrenched in many other Old Testament books. First Chronicles 16 records King David appointing Levites to celebrate, thank, and praise God before the Ark of the Covenant. At the time of David’s death, the duties of these Levites were reaffirmed in First Chronicles 23 to thank and praise the Lord morning and evening.
In the New Testament, Colossians 3:12-17 speaks to the Christian’s call to a life of praise and thanksgiving, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (NASU) Chapters 1-2 of Colossians describe the preeminence of Christ in a variety of ways. Chapters 3-4 are a measuring stick to measure your life by. If the qualities found in Colossians 3-4 are true in your life then you can be confident that Christ is indeed preeminent in your life. If Colossians 3 and 4 are not true in your life then you should read, study, and meditate on the awesomeness of Christ described in chapters one and two. Colossians 3:12 identifies the Christian as one who has been chosen by God and declared by God to be holy and beloved. Verse 15 commands Christians to be thankful. Verse 16 tells us to sing with thankfulness in our hearts to God. A life of praise and thanksgiving to God is clear evidence that we belong to God and that Christ is preeminent in our lives.
Psalms 40:1-3 tells us where our praise originates from and what effect it will have, “I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord.” (NASU) Our life of praise comes directly from the Lord. Our life of praise is a marvelous evangelism program and discipleship program. If I call myself a Christian, I ought to live a life of praise to God that will cause others to have a reverent fear and trust the Lord. It is an incredibly sobering warning that my lack of praise keeps others from responding in faith to the Lord.
Pastor Steve Ellison is the director of the Ouachita Theological Training Institute in Mena, Ark.