Recently, I landed on the New Testament Bible verse Colossians 3:17. I am going to park on that verse and let it steep into me for a while. The New International Version says it like this:
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
When this verse says, “whatever you do,” it doesn’t stop there. It describes exactly what that “whatever” is. What we say and what we do. All of it. Not the sarcastic whateverwith the eye roll that you get from your teenagers. Nope. Here it means anything and everything you set your mind, mouth, and hands to.
Washing the dishes? Absolutely. Taking out the trash? That counts. Sitting down to buffet dinner? Yep. Taking medicines, supplements or CBD oil? Those too. This verse in Colossians does not tell us what we are to be doing. It just says to do it all in the name of Christ, while giving thanks to God.
That made me stop and think: How often am I thanking God, and do I ever do it through the name of Jesus?
Scientists who study gratitude say giving thanks provides several important benefits to the grateful person. First, it actually improves physical health. According to a study conducted in 2012 by researchers in the psychology department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Zurich, Switzerland, thankful people report better physical health. Grateful people also take better care of their bodies by going to the doctor and getting more exercise than those who do not practice gratitude.
Being grateful can help you get a good night’s sleep, according to an article published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. The study took more than 400 adults and examined what their thought patterns were right before they went to sleep. The study concluded that if you practice giving thanks for the 15 minutes before you fall asleep, you are much more likely to have longer and better quality sleep, which leads to better functionality all day.
Giving thanks also improves mental and emotional health by reducing and eliminating many negative emotions. When you feel thankful, it’s impossible to feel angry or resentful at the same time. Gratitude reduces jealousy, frustration, and regret. It lifts depression and reduces aggression. In a study titled “A Grateful Heart is a Nonviolent Heart” by psychology researchers at the University of Kentucky, Brigham Young University, Florida State University, and George Mason University, researchers found that study subjects who said they practiced gratitude regularly were more compassionate and empathetic. They were able to see others in a more favorable light, making them less prone to anger or retaliation even when others wronged them.
Sometimes it feels very hard to give thanks. When death claims a loved one. When we lose a job. When someone betrays us. When children rebel. That’s where faith kicks in and God says, “Do you really trust me? Do you trust that I am good and I have you?”
If you have that faith, you can step out in it and offer what the Bible calls a “sacrifice of praise.” Hebrews 13:15 (NASB) says it this way:
“Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”
It is not easy. If our bodies, minds, or emotions are in such distress that it renders gratitude and faith nearly impossible to muster, I believe God gives us many tools to get us back to a point where we can give that sacrifice of praise. What are some of those tools?
The bottom line is that giving thanks, especially to God, makes you feel better about yourself and others. Think about all you have been given. Write down the good things you have and look at that list often. Add to it daily. I like to write down Bible verses or lists of what I am thankful for on notecards and tape them to my bathroom mirror or even on the walls around my house. They help remind me to give thanks every day.
Written by: Natalie Gillespie
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