Colossians 3:15 commands: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful.” Those last two words are very instructive: “Be thankful.” In Greek the word “be” is “ginesthe” — literallly, “become” thankful. This teaches us a couple of important things:
FIrst, it helps us see the source of many of our problems. They were to “become” thankful, because they were evidently NOT already! It is instructive to us that this command comes in the context of Paul commanding the Colossians to let Christ’s peace rule in their hearts, and that they were to be one body. Evidently they were NOT living at peace with each other, and were NOT acting like one body! What was the cause of that?
While there might be many possible causes for acrimony among them, it is telling that he then commands them to be “thankful”. Perhaps at least part of the cause of their division was that they were envious of what they did not have — like James 4:2 says, “you are envious and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel.” What is the antidote for envy? Thankfulness. Instead of being angry about what you do not have, be grateful for what you DO! Truly the heart of many of our most basic problems is a lack of gratitude.
Secondly, is this going to happen overnight? Again, this verse contains the answer: the word “ginomai” or “become” implies that it is a process. One scholar writes that ginomai “Fundamentally” means to “become” or “emerge”, as in a process; not exactly equivalent to “to be.” It teaches us that this “being thankful” isn’t going to happen all at once. It takes time to break old habits of thinking, and to develop new attitudes of gratitude.
So we should be patient, both with ourselves and with others. “Becoming thankful” isn’t something that will happen in a day or a week. But led by the Spirit of God, it is something that can indeed characterize our lives, leading to greater peace both in our own hearts, and in the body of Christ to which we belong.