Some of the best gifts come in small packages – an engagement ring, a ticket to Europe, a diamond pendant. From time to time, a small book will hit the shelves that pack a powerful punch. Such is the case with Sam Crabtree’s, Practicing Thankfulness.
Crabtree’s little book is barely 100 pages but is filled with biblical wisdom, practical encouragement and even contains some much-needed admonition. The book revolves around the author’s definition of gratitude:
Gratitude is the divinely given spiritual ability to see grace, and the corresponding desire to affirm it and its giver as good.
Crabtree builds an unshakeable edifice around this definition by demonstrating the need for gratitude, the wisdom of gratitude, and the end result of gratitude. An especially helpful chapter, Portrait of a Grateful Heart, helps readers understand the need to be utterly transformed by Christ. In other words, what we truly need is not merely to be thankful; our hearts must be transformed by Christ. The author adds, “Our hearts pivot on the word of Christ. Either they swivel toward him in wonder and gratitude and affection, or they swivel away from him in stubborn, truth-suppressing pride or apathetic indifference.” In the end, gratitude toward God reveals that a person has a regenerated heart, one that has been transformed by the Holy Spirit.
The author reveals the dangers of ingratitude. Indeed, “the very dividing line between glory and dishonor is whether a person gives thanks or not.” He adds, “Thanklessness is at the root of homosexuality, covetousness, envy, murder, and a whole array of foolish and faithless derailments, as clearly stated in Romans 1:21-32. The entitlement mindset, which has American young people in a death grip, is laid bare in this chapter as the author compares the thankful person with the ingrate.
In recent years, a growing number of books and resources have focused on the subject of gratitude. Crabtree’s book is unique in that his encouragement is intimately connected to the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. A person may grow in his or her ability to express gratitude, but such an exercise falls dreadfully short if it fails to acknowledge the supreme gift Giver, namely, the Creator of the cosmos. In other words, a person may express gratitude but prove to be an ingrate if God is not honored, acknowledged, and glorified.
Practicing Thankfulness, while challenging throughout, is a deeply warm and practical book. Sam Crabtree writes with the heart of a pastor and one who has not yet arrived. Readers will be enriched, educated, and moved to action. They will grow in their ability to practice gratitude, which will pay rich dividends to everyone in their circle of influence. Most of all, God will receive the glory, and they acknowledge him for every good gift – even small packages.