Is Anyone Thankful for YOU?

Bible Book: Colossians  1 : 3-8
Subject: Appreciation of Others; Gratitude for Others; Faithfulness

Is Anyone Thankful for YOU?

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

Tonight I am going to address you regarding a question: "Is Anyone in the Church Thankful for YOU or Me?" No, I am not asking if you are thankful for me as your pastor, rather I am asking this question about myself - do I deserve thanks for being part of my church - do you desere the graditude of the church family? Do you think anyone in this church really appreciates you? Look with me at Colossians 1:3-8 this evening and let me show you how essential Paul knew that it was for those serving in the local church to know that they were appreciated.

Colossians 1:3-8: “3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.”

Paul writes this letter and he gives thanks to God for them. He goes on to explain in some detail why he expresses such thankfulness for that church and its people.

Is anyone thankful for you or for me in the local church where we attend and serve? It is a good question, for surely there ought to be gratitude in the local church for those who serve God faithfully. Paul wrote in our text today that he was thankful for the Christians in the Church at Colossae because of the qualities that they possessed. Of course, Paul was often seeking to find something good to say about those serving the Lord in the church. We see that in all of his letters addressed to the churches.

Appreciation is something we all appreciate! We love to be loved and like to be liked. The greater question might be, "Do you show appreciation to the faithful servants in the church where you serve, worship and work?" Do we appreciate others, love others and let them know that we do? I read a story from Marion Gilbert that reveals how appreciative dogs are. “One morning I opened the door to get the newspaper and was surprised to see a strange little dog with our paper in his mouth. Delighted with this unexpected ‘delivery service,’ I fed him some treats. The following morning I was horrified to see the same dog sitting in front of our door, wagging his tail, surrounded by eight newspapers. I spent the rest of that morning returning the papers to their owners. (Marion Gilbert, Reader's Digest, February, 1994, p. 12.)

Someone said, "If  you want to find out who appreciates and loves you most, lock your dog in the trunk of one car and your wife in the trunk of another. Then, one hour later, let them both out and see which one greets you joyfully." Actually, I don't recommend this under any circumstances. Sadly, dogs are more appreciative of what we do for them than most of us are for what God's people do for the Lord and for us in the local church. Paul knew how to show gratitude for fellow Christian servants and he did in almost every letter we have from him in the New Testament.

It is a sad but normal habit among Christians to be critical of one another. I’m not saying there isn’t room for criticism, heaven knows we all have faults and issues that are effortlessly detected and can quite easily be pointed out. Yet, God’s house and God’s family ought to be the place where we can find what we need most, and that is why Paul was often writing to churches and reassuring them with kind words. Yes, he often went on to point out some difficulties that required repentance and correction, but he almost never wrote without words of respect and kindness.

When Paul wrote to the Church at Colossae he began with a wonderful set of compliments. He went so far as to “thank God” for the attributes he saw and the positive things he heard about them as they served in that local church. I like what Paul had to say and it would help all of us and the Church as a whole if we could practice what Paul practiced in this regard.

In essence, what Paul was doing was Thanking God – a habit that is becoming among God’s people. How needed it is. Even in church you can hear people complaining about the world, the state of finances, the habits of young people, and an endless list of negatives about the very church of which they are a part. What we need most is hearts full of thankfulness and gratitude, and certainly there is room for this among those with whom we serve in God’s house.

Let’s look at areas of gratitude that Paul listed in the letter he sent to this church.

I. He Thanked God for their Christian Love

Actually, Paul mentions the faith and love in the Church at Colossae for which he was thankful. He states that he has “heard” of their faith and love, which means that someone told Paul that this church was a place of Christian love. What a wonderful thing to be said about a church. I pray that more of our churches may become known as places of deep, great and abiding love in Christ.

Think of your church for a moment, and then consider what you might say is the hallmark or foremost element of your church. For some churches the attribute for which they are known is the internal strife or the struggles taking place there. For others it might be the annual hot dog sales or car washes that are used to raise money for the church to send the youth to camp. Yet, for some others it might be the decline in attendance and participation that serves as the prime characteristic in their reputation. Sadly, very sadly, very few churches are known for their love. In fact, I challenge you just now to think of the last person you have talked to about their church that mentioned as first and foremost the way that person exulted over the great love that abounded in his or her fellowship. You might be thinking about that for along time to come with a memory of such an experience.

Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) It was, and it is the desire of Christ, that His Church be a place of loving fellowship, loving worship, loving evangelism, loving missions – well, just a place where Christians true love each other. Jesus did not say that the size of our buildings will impress the world that we are His disciples, nor did our Lord say that the popularity of the church programs will convince the world that we are His disciples. Love! That is what causes people around us to know that we belong to Jesus.

Now look closely at the text we are considering, and you will notice that Paul remarks that the Church at Colossae had a love “for all the saints”. In other words, this church was open-hearted toward all true Christians in every local congregation. Paul may have been making this statement because the people in the Church at Colossae were part of giving plan and mission effort toward the churches that Paul and his fellow missionaries were starting in various places where they travelled. After all, John the Apostle states in 1 John 3:14, “4 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” Now that is a bold statement about the need for God’s love to seen as abiding in us! But Paul was also likely pointing to the fact that the Church at Colossae had no “caste system” - in other words there was no group in the church which excluded other Christians from participating. It is sad when a church has a group of people who think they are superior to all others in the fellowship. Sadly, this is true in some churches and it must grieve the heart of God, for we know that the ground is always level at the cross - surely it ought to be level in the house of God and among the people of God.

Those of us who have been a member of a local Christian congregation for any period of time learn quickly how precious it is to be among a group of believers who have the love of Jesus abiding in them. What peace there is in such a place. What ministry is carried out where the love of Jesus is visible in the people. What comfort to be among loving Christians when one is going through a crisis of some kind. No wonder Paul was expressing thankfulness for the love that existed in the people of this church.

Again, let me share that we are to have love in our hearts and love in our churches, even for those who aren’t loving toward us. Perhaps the Church at Colossae had some people who were arrogant, haughty or self-righteous, and it is true that people of that kind do not love the way Jesus desires or demands. In fact, in Luke 6:32 Jesus pointed out that even sinners love those who love them, but he called on those who follow Him to love everyone. In God’s family, we are to love everyone – even those who don’t appear to deserve that love. After all, Jesus loved us while we were yet sinners.

Now, let’s look at something else Paul gave thanks for in regard to this church…

II. He Thanked God for Christian Hope

Now here is something interesting and helpful for all of us to remember. Paul states that the hope in the Christians at Colossae was in fact the cause of their faith and love. Christians have a hope in the abiding presence of Christ, the coming of the Lord and the home He has for us in heaven. We live in hope.

We must not misunderstand Christian hope. The hope the believer has is unlike the word hope which is used by the world. People in general speak of hope but they don’t have in mind anything like that which is meant by the word hope that is used in a Christian context. For example, a person may hope that is doesn’t rain because they have an outdoor party planned. Or a young child may hope it doesn’t rain since there is a ballgame planned later in the day. The kind of hope the world has is like a wish, but the hope mentioned in the Bible that belongs to the Christian is a hope filled with assurance in the ultimate outcome of all that God has promised. The time of fulfillment may not be known to us, but the fact of it is certainty of the hope is deep in the heart of a true Christian. That assurance is called "Hope."

Christian hope is so important that it is mentioned in the Bible over 200 times. When speaking of Christian hope it never refers to a human desire or worldly wish. Godly hope is the Christian’s faith attached to a divine promise. Hebrews 6:17-20 tells us that our hope in God’s promises is a sure anchor of our souls, and that anchor is fixed in heaven so that the world cannot move it from its place.

Paul knew that the Christians in Colossae needed hope in order to trust God and serve Him faithfully. Seeing that hope in them gave Paul great joy, so Paul shared how he thanked God for observing that in their lives. Do we possess that kind of hope? We can, because God always keeps His Word to His people, and true hope increases our faith according to Hebrews 11.

Parade Magazine had a story some time ago a wealthy man named Eugene Land who spoke to a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. The millionaire wondered what he could say to help those students. He threw every idea and concentrated on one thing. He told them how important it was to get an education, then he did something that shocked the students. He said, "Stay in school and I'll help pay the college tuition for every one of you." The kids in that class were mostly poor black and Puerto Rican children. Yet, Land had given them hope. It is said that 90% of those students graduated from high school and went on to college. One student remembered the moment he heard Land make that promise. He said, "It was a golden moment. It gave us hope."

Friends, we have something better than a promise to pay for our education. We have the promise that our sins are paid for by Jesus Christ - He paid with His blood at the cross. We have the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. We have the promise that He is building a place for us in heaven and will come and get us one day. We are to live in hope - the hope God has given us in His Son!

Why is hope so important? Hope takes away discouragement when things are going your way. Hope decreases the desire for immediate gain from the service we render. We know that God will keep His Word, so we ply on with faithfulness when everything in this old world looks bleak. When friends leave us, we know that God doesn't, so we work for Christ. When disease attacks us, we know that God is able to do what is best, so we keep our focus on Him. No wonder Paul was thankful for the hope in the children of God.

So, love and hope are two things in the people at Colossae revealed in their lives, but note another element in them for which Paul gave thanks…

III. He Thanked God for Christian Fruit

Paul pointed out in verse 6 of Colossae, chapter 1, that the love and hope in the believers at Colossae produced fruit. Paul gave thanks for this fact. What exactly does it mean to say that a church or members of a church are producing fruit?

In John 15:16 we read these words from Jesus: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” These words speak of us giving evidence that we are from the True Vine - Jesus Christ. An apple tree cannot bear grapes, but a grape vine will. A true Christian will display the fruit of the Christian life. A believer in Jesus will show forth the fruit of Christian living as evidence that he or she is a Christian. Many people claim Christ, but they show absolutely no fruit – no evidence that they actually know the Lord. Paul saw in the members of the Church at Colossae a fruit that revealed them to the world as belonging to Jesus.

There is an old question that is still useful today. It is said that someone asked, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” In other words, do you have the fruit in your life to show that you are connected to Christ, the True and Living Vine.

I remember a story from the American Revolution of a man in civilian clothes who rode a horse by a group of soldiers repairing a defensive barrier for an upcoming battle. The leader of these soldiers was shouting orders but he made no effort whatsoever to help the men struggling with the task. The rider on the horse stopped and asked, "Corporal, why aren't you helping those men?" The corporal replied arrogantly, "I am a corporal!" The stranger on the horse dismounted, and grabbed the wood barrier and helped the men put it in place. When asked who this stranger was, he replied, "I am your Commander-in-chief." It was in fact, none other than George Washington himself. Let me remind you that our Lord left heaven and came to this earth so that He might redeem our pitiful souls. No one among us ought ever to feel that we are too big to get our hands dirty in the faithful work God has called us to do.

In Colossians 3:23-24 we read, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

As workers for the Lord, we are to work “heartily” and we are to serve Him! You can be sure of this, that serving the Lord will lead to a reward from the Master one day in the future. Note that Paul was thanking God for the church members in Colossae but he was also prodding them to keep up the good work. In essence Paul penned this letter to encourage them to keep up the good work, reminding them that they will meet the Lord one day and on that day they will receive a reward for which they will not be ashamed. Matthew 16:27 states, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

When we work for the Lord and carry out His mission, we are being like our Savior. Jesus said, as recorded in John 3:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” Jesus also said in John 9:4, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

Paul was thankful that the Christians at Colossae were living like Jesus – they were working in the Kingdom. He was thankful because he knew that there is but a limited period of time that any of us can work for our Lord. We are to complete the work He gives us to do.

I thank God for every Christian worker in this fellowship. Like Paul, I praise the Lord for you. You are so faithful and special. My only prayer is that your tribe will increase!


So, let me close by saying this, Paul was giving thanks in the Church for the love, hope and the fruitful work he saw in the saved members of the fellowship. Just think of how simple this is. If we can love Jesus and others faithfully, keep our hope fixed on that which God has promised us in this life and the life to come, and if we can remain faithful in His service and complete the work He has given us, we can merit gratitude.

Is anyone thankful for your Christian love, hope through faith and service through faithfulness? I have to ask myself that question. You see, the question is not "Is anyone in the church thankful for me?" but rather it is, "Do I deserve gratitude for my love, hope and fruitfulness in God's service through my local church?" Let us today rededicate ourselves to these three great principles and practices which God has placed before us in His Word.

Martin Luther wrote, “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays - not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship."

Let us be faithful workers, filled with love and hope – and do it all for Him till He comes for us. And, let's show gratitude for our fellow Christians, and live so that they might express appreciation for us. Look for a opportunities to encourage another Christian worker with a word of appreciation. Everyone becomes discouraged at times and a word of love or kindness can do wonders to restore a person to new vigor and enthusiasm in God's service.

There very well may be a person in this evening service who has never trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. He died for your sins, He rose to justify you before the Heavenly Father, and He is coming one day to judge the world. Come to Him tonight - it is a decision, once made, that you will never regret.