When we read Paul’s thanksgivings in the opening of his epistles, we’re oft rightly convicted, but wrongly act. We pray so little, and when we do, we express our discontent. We don’t say thank you for the food on our plate and we complain about the lack of dessert. Being reprimanded, we double down our efforts for a spell. But that only lasts until we’re given Brussels sprouts again.
Thankfulness does not flow merely from the shallows of a resolve of will. Thankfulness has deep theological moorings. If you want thankfulness to go up, your doctrine must go deep. Trying to mimic Paul’s thankfulness by just praying is like trying to build a replica of the Empire State Building, but just building up, without doing the necessary sub-structure work.
There are several deeps to Paul’s thanks, but lets just unearth a few. Paul thanks God concerning the Colossians’ faith in Christ and love toward the saints. He doesn’t thank the Colossians for their belief and love. Praise is due to God. Dig a bit and you see that total depravity (Colossians 1:21-22) is one reason Paul gives thanks. Faith and love being a sovereign gift (James 1:17; Ephesians 2:8; Acts 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25), springing out of regeneration (1 John 4:7. 5:1), which was worked in his saints through the fruit bearing gospel (Colossians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:23–25) is another.
And on we could go, but you’ve seen enough to realize this, theology opens our eyes to reality, a reality that necessitates thanksgiving in the highest to the Highest.