I have started reading Sam Crabtree’s book Practicing Affirmation. So far it is a great book. But the foreword floored me. Not many forewords have floored me. But not many are written by John Piper either. In the foreword Piper quotes the following passage from C.S Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms:
“The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers praising their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits, and malcontents praised least. The good critics found something to praise in many imperfect works; the bad ones continually narrowed the list of books we might be allowed to read. the healthy and unaffected man, even if luxuriously brought up and widely experienced in good cookery, could praise a very modest meal: the dyspeptic and the snob found fault with all. Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.”
Did you hear what he says. It is only those who are humble, balanced and capacious that are liberal with their praise of others. It is those who are arrogant, snobby and full of themselves who do not praise others.
Piper goes on to comment about the central idea in the book:
“Sam says, “The best affirmation is rooted not only in the character of God, but in the Gospel.” Which means that every glimmer of good in the life of God’s children is blood bought. Jesus died to make it possible. What does it say about us if he died to bring it about, and we don’t consider it worth praising? That is, to say it again, I need this book.”
To put some skin on it. When we see something that someone else does and it is good and we do not encourage them we are saying something profound about God and his good gifts. We are saying they are not praise worthy. And we know that all good gifts of God that we can see in others are there only because of the gospel. So there is a sense in which our failure to praise the good in others is a functional denial of the gospel.
But the sentence that floored me the most was this one:
When our mouths are empty of praise for others, it is probably because our hearts are full of love for self.
When I am only full of negativity toward others, when I give no praise, no compliment, only put downs and negativity I do it because I am full of myself and arrogant.
I need to repent a lot! My lack of praise of others shows how much I don’t praise my father in heaven and it also shows how full of myself I am.
Do you agree that if you don’t praise others you functionally deny the gospel?
What do you need to change to see and comment on the evidences of God’s grace in the people around you?
Who do you need to praise today because you can see evidences of God’s grace in their lives?