Abounding and Thankful Christians

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
—Colossians 2:6,7

THE WORD CHRISTIAN today, in its general use, denotes one who is neither a heathen nor a Jew. However, its real connotation is much more restricted. The word Christ means ‘anointed,’ and a Christian would therefore be an ‘anointed one.’ The Scriptures reveal that the only anointed ones of this Gospel Age are those who, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, have been inducted into the mystical body of Christ. By one Spirit, these are all baptized into the one body.—I Cor. 12:13

The Apostle Paul refers to these in our text as having ‘received Christ Jesus the Lord.’ Having thus received him, we are to ‘walk … in him,’ and be ‘rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith.’ Those who have entered into this blessed relationship with the Lord should abound in all that it implies, and with ‘thanksgiving.’ The Greek word here translated abounding means literally to ‘superabound,’ to ‘be in excess.’ In other words, to be abounding Christians implies application, zeal, labor, and sacrifice, in excess of the normal way of life. This abounding, the apostle indicates, includes our thankfulness to the Heavenly Father for having been brought into the body of Christ and made members of the Divine family of sons.

In I Corinthians 15:58 Paul says, “Therefore, … be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Here, also, he associates steadfastness with ‘abounding in the work of the Lord.’ One who is not steadfast, not established in the faith, not unmovable, is described by the Apostle James as “double minded,” and such a one, he says, “is unstable in all his ways.”—James 1:8


Paul admonishes us to ‘walk’ in Christ in keeping with the manner in which we have received him. How did we receive Christ as our Head and Lord? First we recognized our own sinful and undone condition, that we were members of a sin-cursed and dying race, not meriting any favors from God. Then we recognized in the sacrificial work of Jesus that which provided redemption for us, and that through the merit of his sacrifice we could be acceptable to God. We saw in this provision a marvelous manifestation of Divine love, and by it we were constrained to present ourselves in full devotion to do God’s will. This step of full consecration is described by the Apostle Peter as “the answer of a good conscience toward God.”—I Pet. 3:21

This meant the giving up of our own wills, and the acceptance of the will of God as expressed through Christ. Thus, figuratively speaking, we were “beheaded,” and accepted Christ as our Head. (Rev. 20:4) This was the condition upon which we were eligible to become members of the “body” of Christ, (Rom. 12:5) to be in him, and thereafter to walk in him. Even then, it was only because the merit of Christ was applied for our justification that we could be accepted into the ‘body.’ Thus Paul explains, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”—the Holy Spirit by which we are anointed.—Rom. 8:1

We received Christ and were inducted into his body because we accepted his will as the rule of life, and because the merit of his atoning blood made us acceptable. So when the apostle exhorts us to continue, walking in him as we received him, it simply means that we are to continually and humbly recognize our own unworthiness. We did this in the beginning, keeping our own wills and desires “under,” as in our consecration we agreed to do. (I Cor. 9:27) We endeavor to become more and more responsive to the leadings and to the quickening impulses of the Holy Spirit through which the will of God is revealed to us.

This formula for faithfulness to the Lord is very simple, yet most exacting. It is exacting because it is the difference between saying “Lord, Lord,” (Matt. 7:21) and actually maintaining a surrendered will regardless of what the cost may be. It is the difference between the scriptural philosophy of the Christian life, and living the Christian life. We accepted the philosophy, and now the test is to so walk in him.

In order to carry out daily the terms of our consecration and to continue doing so faithfully to the very end of the “narrow … way,” (Matt. 7:14) it will be necessary to be ‘rooted and built up in him.’ Here Paul changes the figure of speech from walking in Christ to being rooted, or, as the psalmist says, “like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” (Ps. 1:3) But the apostle had the first three verses of this psalm in mind in combining the thought of walking, with being rooted, for the psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, … But his delight is in the law of the Lord; … he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.”—vss. 1-3

To be ‘stablished,’ a tree must have its roots deep down in the soil, and for the tree to flourish and bear fruit, its roots must also be in contact with sufficient water, or moisture, to meet its needs. The psalmist explains that the man who loves the law of the Lord, or has fully surrendered his own will in favor of the Lord’s will, and is continuing to walk in this way of consecration, is ‘like a tree planted by the rivers of water.’

Applying the illustration to ourselves, it means that we need our roots, or understanding and faith, deeply embedded in the great foundations of the Truth, as they are centered in Christ. Merely a passing, surface knowledge of the Truth will not enable us to stand resolute against the many winds of false doctrine which are assailing the Lord’s people in this evil day. We will need to abound in our study of the doctrines, “rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Tim. 2:15) It will not be sufficient to believe the Truth, or any phase of it, simply because someone else does. Our own roots must strike down deeply into the precious promises of God which reveal his plan, and absorb their refreshing nutriment, if we are to stand.

If we are properly rooted we will withstand all the unfavorable elements with which we are daily surrounded as Christians. In order to grow and bear fruit a tree needs both the sunshine and the rain, as well as varying degrees of temperature. Even the wind is an aid in strengthening its trunk and branches. So, as Christians, we need the sunshine of God’s favor, and we also need the trials, the persecutions, the hardships, and the disappointments. We need ‘every stormy wind that blows,’ and if we are properly rooted and grounded in the Truth these will but establish us all the more, and cause our thanksgiving to abound.


In addition to being rooted in Christ and in the precious truths of which he is the embodiment, we are to be ‘built up’ in him. In Ephesians 4:15 Paul writes that by “speaking the truth in love” we “grow up into him in all things.” While the thought of being built up and growing up is slightly different, the ‘all things’ applies to both. If we are walking in Christ as we have received him, if we are properly rooted in him through a personally applied understanding of the Truth, our endeavor will be to have our lives conformed to his teachings and example in all things.

This is an exacting test of the genuineness of our consecration and the deadness of our wills. By nature, all the Lord’s people differ more or less from one another. Some find it more difficult than others to develop certain Christian graces. To be ‘abounding’ Christians we must all learn to walk in him in all things.

We are to ‘love one another’ as he loved us; that is, with a sacrificing love which leads us to lay down our lives for the brethren. This must be translated into action, not halfheartedly, not grudgingly, but in an abounding manner. The measure of an abounding love for the brethren will not be our convenience, but the extent of their need and the opportunity we have to lay down our lives for them. The example of Jesus’ sacrificing love will be our guide as to the time, the strength, and the means we will devote to the service of our brethren, whether it be ministering to the needs of one or more of them individually, or in a general service on behalf of all the consecrated.


Jesus was the “light of the world,” and he said that we also were to be the light of the world. (Matt. 5:14-16; John 8:12) We know how faithful Jesus was in bearing witness to the Truth. It mattered not to him how much it cost of time or strength, or of reputation; he was always ready and glad to speak those things which the Father had given him to say. His was an abounding service, in excess of the demands of justice, a service which daily absorbed his vitality beyond the point of normal human endurance. This is another of the ‘all things’ in which we are to be built up into him who is our Head and our Exemplar.

In all the centuries of the Gospel Age, only a “little flock” is found worthy to live and reign with Christ. (Luke 12:32) One reason is that so few who accept Christ seem able to progress beyond the point of merely being beneficiaries of Divine grace as expressed through him. They are glad that they are saved, and the ethical teachings of the Word effect a moral reformation in their lives. Otherwise they go through life much the same as other people. The Christian life, however, is much more than this. We receive all the riches of Divine grace through Christ in order that we may acceptably lay down our lives as his ambassadors.

Are we abounding in this God-given vocation of bearing witness to the Truth, as Jesus did? Are our efforts in this direction in excess of our convenience, and at the cost of time and strength which could otherwise increase the ease and the pleasures of the flesh? Self-sacrificing zeal as light-bearers is one of the evidences of being built up into Christ, one of the ‘all ways’ in which his image is reflected in our lives.


Another prominent characteristic in Jesus’ life of faithfulness was his unswerving loyalty in the Father’s Word. “It is written,” was his reply to temptation. (Matt. 4:4) “ I have not spoken of myself;” he said, “but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49) Later, he said to his Heavenly Father, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4) In saying the things and doing the work given him by the Father, Jesus followed explicitly the instructions given him by God in the Old Testament. There was no deviation, no compromising, no holding back.

It is this that we agreed to do in our consecration. It is the Word of God—which now includes the teachings of Jesus and the apostles—that reveals the Heavenly Father’s will. We have agreed to do his will. We know this to be true, but how deep do our roots go down into these precious truths? Are we “doers” of the Word, or merely “hearers”?—James 1:22

Paul admonished, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God.” (II Tim. 2:15) It is not merely the reading and studying of the Word which brings Divine approval. Our study should be for the purpose of discovering what is God’s will in all the various details of our lives. Bible study, therefore, whether individually or together with others, is a challenge to the depth of our consecration. To read Jesus’ instructions, for example, to turn the other cheek when smitten by an enemy, (Matt. 5:39) leaves the consecrated with no choice but to obey, regardless of how contrary it might be to the natural inclinations of the flesh.

We could easily become so inspired with the beauties of the Truth, and so filled with the desire to tell the whole world about it, that we would neglect our responsibilities toward those who are properly dependent upon us, but this would be contrary to the will of God. Paul wrote that one who provides not for his own is worse than an unbeliever. (I Tim. 5:8) In our study to show ourselves approved, we need to find the balance between the directives to let our light shine, and meeting family responsibilities. What the flesh might prefer along these lines will not enter into the decisions of a fully consecrated Christian.


Many of the Lord’s people at one time or another encounter misunderstandings with others of like precious faith. We use the word ‘misunderstandings’ because we doubt if any truly consecrated Christian would purposely and willfully do injury to another. There are times, however, when circumstantial evidence might indicate that such is the case. Situations of this kind call for the exercise of sympathetic understanding and brotherly love, and Jesus’ explicit instructions as to what course the injured one should take.

These instructions are recorded in Matthew 18:15-18. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee,” Jesus said, “go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” How beautifully—‘If he shall hear thee thou hast gained thy brother;’ not “If he hear thee, thou hast justified thyself and punished thy brother.” How much more likely we are to gain our brother if we go to him alone!

Whatever the reason may be this particular directive of the Word seems to be very generally ignored among the Lord’s people. When we conclude that a brother has trespassed against us, the inclination is to go to almost everyone else in the ecclesia except to him. As the information is passed from one to another, human nature being as it is, the facts are unwittingly distorted, and by the time the brother in question hears about it, he scarcely can recognize what it is that he was supposed to have done.

How much better it would be to follow Jesus’ instructions and go to him alone! By doing this, it would be found in most instances that what seemed to be a trespass appeared so only because his words or acts had been misunderstood; that he was not aware that he had injured another. Even if he had willfully trespassed, as it appeared, the Christlike, loving attitude of the one he endeavored to injure, in going to him alone rather than to prejudice others against him, would probably go far in gaining his understanding and friendship. This would be the real purpose in going to the brother: not to seek compensation for injury received from his wrongful act.

A brother in Christ who has willfully transgressed against another is in a dangerous attitude of heart and mind. Our desire should be to gain that brother, to prevent him from continuing in the way of bitterness. Should the one he aimed to injure fail in this, then, as Jesus said, “one or two” more should be invited to participate in the effort. (vs. 16) If these fail, the case may be brought before the ecclesia. If then the brother manifests a determination to ‘trespass’ against one or more of the church, only then he is to be treated as an unbeliever; for he has demonstrated that he is not walking ‘in him.’


The stresses and strains of the evil day through which the world and the church have been passing for so many years have resulted in a tragic state of restlessness and irritability on the part of nearly all mankind. The Lord’s own people are not free from these influences. It seems to be difficult for many even to listen attentively to what others are saying. A group of people hearing or seeing the same thing, or going through the same experience, will have quite different conceptions of what they heard, or saw, or experienced.

Within a family, father will start to relate an incident with which everyone in the family is equally familiar, only to be interrupted by mother, or one of the children, with “Father, it wasn’t that way. Let me explain what happened.” So, after hearing several versions of the same experience, the guest is left with the necessity of trying to determine what did occur.

This sort of thing takes place all the time, in families and in social groups, and even in the church. No harm is meant, and very seldom are feelings hurt. Actually, it doesn’t make much difference whether father, or mother, or one of the children tells the true version of any given incident, or whether they are all more or less in error. But this same inability to relate facts correctly sometimes manifests itself among the brethren in connection with issues which are vital, and which, if not understood correctly, can lead to serious consequences.

If the relating of simple incidents of everyday experiences is frequently inaccurate, how much more likely to be wrong are the stories which, unchristianlike, are circulated against a brother or sister in Christ. This is especially so since Satan is ever alert to stir up strife among the consecrated people of God, and is ready and anxious to pit our imperfections one against the other. Let us all practice the art of being good listeners, and careful observers, in order that we may know the facts of cases whereof we speak. Let us not speak at all on matters which may do injury to a brother in Christ. This application of the law of love is one of the terms of our consecration, one of the aspects of the will of God enjoined on us by his Word.


The Lord is quite capable of removing every difficulty we encounter in the narrow way so that the light of his countenance would continually beam upon us. He knows, however, that under such circumstances we would have no opportunity to prove our love for him. Our fidelity to him, and the depth of our consecration to do his will under all circumstances, must be tested. He permits unpleasant, vexing circumstances as one of the means by which to prove us as to whether or not we love him with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength.

In James 5:10 we read, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” One of the outstanding examples of fidelity under trial on the part of the prophets is Jeremiah. He lived and served God and his people just before, and at the time, the nation of Israel was taken into captivity in Babylon. He was given a hard, unpleasant message to proclaim. It made him unpopular with his own people, and his faithfulness led to many severe experiences, including incarceration in a dungeon.

Despite his personal suffering, his greatest sorrow of heart was over the tragedies which came upon his people because of their sins. In the book of Lamentations he gives expression to this bitterness of soul. Nevertheless, he recognized the abundant mercy of God in the fact that still greater calamity had not come upon the nation. “It is of the Lord’s mercies,” he wrote, “that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”—Lam. 3:22


Is not this true with each one of us? When we first came to the Lord, we recognized our unworthiness of his favors. We knew that but for his mercy the Adamic condemnation would have resulted in our being forever consumed in death. We knew that it was only through the merit of Christ that we could have a standing before him, and be acceptable servants in his service. Should we not continue to remember this, and realize also that it is true of all our brethren, and of the whole world of mankind? Let us, then, when we feel vexed with the imperfections of others, remember how merciful the Lord is toward us, and how patient he is. Let us remember Jesus’ instructions that unless we forgive men their trespasses against us neither will our Heavenly Father forgive us our trespasses against them.

Concerning the Lord’s mercies, Jeremiah continues, “They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:23) Regardless of how far short we may come today, and how much we stand in need of God’s mercy, it is never exhausted. Through Christ, he will be ready tomorrow to continue showering his blessings upon us despite our unworthiness. Truly, great is his faithfulness!

Jeremiah had prophesied the downfall and captivity of the nation. He had seen his prophecies fulfilled. The nation was now in captivity, but not consumed. There was to be a returning. But for the prophet, all the human streams of assurance and joy had gone dry. Yet, even under such circumstances he could write, “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.”—Lam. 3:24, 25

In testing the genuineness of our consecration, the Lord at times allows all sources of human consolation to fail. It might even seem that our own brethren in Christ are far removed in their spirit of understanding. But the Lord permits this in order that we may learn to put our trust more fully in him, and appreciate more keenly the fellowship which it is our privilege to enjoy with him through prayer and through his Word. He wants us to learn, as Jeremiah did, that he is our ‘portion,’ and the center of all our hopes.


Due to our own imperfections, and those of others, including our brethren in Christ, we may often find ourselves in the midst of vexing situations, not knowing which way to turn, or what to do. These are experiences which really try our souls, and the temptation often is to make some rash move which might well add to the difficulty rather than lessen it. We remember that life is filled with problems which oftentimes we cannot solve. Some of them may be in our own families, some in the ecclesia with whom we meet, or elsewhere.

The Lord knows all about these trying situations. When Moses and the Israelites stood before the Red Sea, with the Egyptian army close behind them, and ready to destroy them, the situation looked hopeless. They could not do anything about it, and Moses was helpless. But the Lord knew and provided the solution.

As we walk in him and are being built up in him, we will encounter many Red Sea experiences. There will be perplexities which we will be unable to solve. There will be times when the only thing we can do will be what the Israelites were told to do, that is, to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” (Exod. 14:13) Jeremiah learned this, and wrote, “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord”—Lam. 3:26


In the United States of America the fourth Thursday in November is set aside as a day of national thanksgiving to the Lord. This is good, but every day should be one of thanksgiving to the Christian who is abounding in all things involved in carrying out the terms of his consecration. If we are walking in the Master’s footsteps, and are rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, we will find cause for thankfulness in every experience of life. We will thank God for the sunshine and the rain, and we will thank him for the sorrow and the pain.

There is a special significance in Paul’s expression, ‘abounding therein with thanksgiving.’ Certainly, this implies that our thanksgiving will abound, and if it does, will it not follow that our abounding will be manifested in every aspect of the Christian life? Will we be likely to hold resentment in our hearts toward those who vex us, if we thank God for the trials which reach us through them?

Will we not abound in our patient waiting on the Lord if we thank him for the situations which he permits to test our loyalty and the depth of our consecration?

If we are thankful to the Lord for every opportunity we have to lay down our lives in the service of the Truth, will we be likely to allow those opportunities to pass unused?

If we thank God for his Word, and for the wonderful promises and instructions it contains, will we be lax in studying his Word in order to show ourselves approved unto him?

If we daily thank God for his love and mercy through Christ, in recognition of our great need of the atoning blood, will it not keep us forcefully reminded of our own imperfections and make us more sympathetic toward our brethren whom we know are also acceptable to God only through the merit of the Redeemer?

A faithful Christian is a thankful Christian, and those who abound in their thanksgiving will likewise abound in all things, and these are the ones who will have an abundant entrance into “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”—II Pet. 1:11

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |