Colossians 3:15-16 says, “…Be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Twice in these verses the word thankful is used – “Be thankful” and “with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
The Greek word for thankful is eucharisteo, and it tells us what gratitude really is. As you look closer you’ll see the word charis, in the middle. This is the word for grace, gift, or favor. The other root word in eucharisteo is chara, the word for joy.
Here it is again…
ecuharisteo – mindful of favors, grateful, thankful.
charis – grace, gift, favor
chara – joy
Each of these elements are involved when we are truly grateful. First, we are mindful of the many blessings in our lives. This requires mental focus and exercise. We choose to set our thoughts on what is good. We don’t stop there. We then express our thanks through words and actions. We do something tangible so the giver knows how we feel.
Second, as we express our gratitude we actually receive a gift. As I lift up another and acknowledge their deposit in my life, I’m giving but at the same time putting myself on the receiving end. The activity of gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. It’s been shown in study after study. Nothing makes us healthier, more resilient, and happy like intentional gratitude. People who are laid up sick in the hospital recover faster if they can find something to be thankful for. Those who look at the dark side and complain take much longer, and many times die in the bed. In gratitude, you are giving, but also receiving a gift.
Third, all of this leads to joy. Grateful people are the happiest people in the world. This is why over and over again the New Testament commands believers to be thankful. We are ambassadors for Christ, and no one wants to listen to a grumpy messenger.
One more thought on this wonderful word – eucharisteo. You’ll also see the word eucharist in there. This is one of our words for the Lord’s Table, or Communion. That’s the time when believers partake of the cup and bread to remember the blood and body of Christ. It’s the moment when we pause in our busy lives to give thanks for all that Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection. Stopping to reflect on that always produces fresh grace and joy.