“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-­7)

Clear directions give us a running head start. The patient teacher in kindergarten who painstakingly showed me how to print the first letter of my name, the basketball coach who drilled our daughter in the basics of dribbling down the court, and the driver’s ed instructor who courageously careened down the highway by our son’s side…each one doled out important directives to ensure we progressed successfully.

Saint Paul follows suit. In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle hands out a succinct list of what should occupy us after we have made certain that Christ Jesus is Lord of our lives.

First, keep walking in step with the Savior and live a lifestyle patterned after his. Walk like Jesus would; he left countless examples for us to imitate. Pick one, pursue it, and pursue it a bit more.

Then, draw nourishment from his life. Christ calls himself Living Water, the Bread of Life, and Honey from the rock; his Word is perfectly described as “pure spiritual milk.” We are to crave the sustenance that he alone provides, to saturate ourselves with him in order to find full and complete satisfaction.

Paul finishes off his short list with a riveting phrase: “abounding in thanksgiving.” Sometimes we neglect this key command, indifferent to its liberating force. As I develop a lifestyle of thankfulness, I combat greedy, materialistic urges.

With contentment as a framework, I will be less likely to gripe or complain, to whine or sulk over my petty circumstances.

In similar fashion, if I allow a spirit of gratefulness to permeate my relationships, my critical spirit will be short-­circuited. When I applaud the beautiful etchings my friends have left on my life, I will be far less critical of their shortcomings.

Good teachers leave an indelible mark; we carry the words of the great ones with us for quite some time. But, when we strive to imitate the Master Teacher’s words, our lives will honor the instructions summed up in his powerful phrase: “Follow me.”

Elizabeth A. Mitchell

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