Life Together: Practicing Gratitude

Passage: Colossians 1:3-14
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

This new sermon series, Life Together, examines five practices that shape and express our shared life as church community formed by the grace of God in Jesus. One such practice is gratitude.

Though the Apostle Paul led anything but a privileged life, his ministry was marked by overflowing gratitude. The source of his gratitude was not his circumstances, but the transformed lives the Colossians were living because of the grace they’d encountered in the gospel (1:5-6). Our Christian community is marked by gratitude because our Christian lives are fueled by a constant reminder of the grace of God. As a church, we need to constantly be remembering, or “rehearsing” the gospel story. Doing so will not only make us more grateful but will actually bring us more in touch with reality—everything we are, and have, is a gift of God!

The content of Paul’s gratitude is also instructive for us. Not only is Paul’s gratitude focused on fruits of the Spirit, and character change (as opposed gratitude for external circumstances), but it’s almost always directed to God the Father, as he is revealed in Jesus (1:3). As Christians, we always have someone to thank! Even the gifts of God should ultimately lead us back to thanking God himself, who is the source of all good gifts.

Lastly, we need to remember that giving thanks is a discipled practice. It wasn’t optional for Paul, but was commanded, and essential. In order for us to be sustained in and by the gospel over the long haul—indeed, in order for us to even survive—we too need to embrace the sustained, intentional practice of gratitude.

Sermon Outline

  • The Source of Gratitude (1:1-12)
  • The Content of Gratitude (1:3-5)
  • The Practice of Gratitude (cf. Eph 1:15; Philemon 4, etc)

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (Colossians 1:3-14)

The Source of Gratitude (1:1-12)

Q) Re-read Colossians 1:1-12 and meditate on these verses together. Consider:

  • Who is Paul expressing gratitude to? (vs. 3)
  • What is Paul expressing gratitude for? What is he celebrating? (vs. 4-6)
  • What was the source of the Colossians’ growth? (vs. 5-6)
  • What did Paul’s gratitude lead him to do? (vs. 9-12)

Q) In his sermon, Pastor Bobby pointed out how Paul’s gratitude was based on the Colossians’ growth in the gospel, and in godly character, rather than his own circumstances. When you think about the practice of gratitude in your own life, how dependent is it on your external circumstances? Why can it be so hard not to base our gratitude on our circumstances?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that in order for us to grow in gratitude, we need to “remember and rehearse” the gospel story together. Look over vs. 1-13 again…where do you notice Paul remembering, reminding, celebrating aspects of the gospel and its power?

Q) Which aspect(s) of the grace of God in the gospel are you particularly grateful for, in this season?

The Content of Gratitude (1:3-5)

Q) Re-read Colossians 1:3-5. Though Paul is grateful for the Colossians’ “faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the saints” his thanksgiving is ultimately directed to God himself. How can you grow in directing your gratitude back to God himself?

Q) Pastor Bobby mentioned how we can grow in both noticing and celebrating the fruits of the spirit growing in people. What keeps us from more regularly noticing and celebrating this kind of growth in others? What is one “sphere” of your life (e.g. family, workplace, the church, etc) where you want to be more intentional about noticing and celebrating this kind of growth in people? What would it look like practically for you to do so?

The Practice of Gratitude (cf. Eph 1:15; Philemon 4, etc)

Q) Pastor Bobby said that for the Apostle Paul, giving thanks was actually a discipline. Have you ever thought of giving thanks as a discipline before? Why or why not? How, if at all, does this change the way we go about the practice of giving thanks?

Q) What is one tangible way in this coming month that you can more regularly practice gratitude?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?

Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?

Prayer

Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.

 
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