A Different Kind of Happiness by Larry Crabb {Review}

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“God passionately longs for us to know Him so well and to love Him so deeply that we embrace no greater good than increasing His happiness by revealing Jesus to others by how we relate. That is what He is up to, making true disciples. Loving with a better love is the center of worship. Nothing brings God more glory.” – A Different Kind of Happiness, p.158.


In this book the author, Dr. Larry Crabb, argues that our true happiness lies in glorifying God by loving others well and sacrificially. The book is divided into three parts. The first part makes a distinction between first thing and second thing happiness, lasting joy vs the feeling of being happy/content right now, and acknowledges the cost of seeing the difference. The second part leads us in a series of questions that tell the story of God’s love in eternity. The third part is just a few pages on the freedom of moving forward in this way. It is written an exploratory fashion as the author was writing to figure out these questions for himself.

“Genuine joy will live in us with sustaining power only when we draw on the Spirit’s passion and power in order to love God, to value relationship with Him as our greatest good, and to esteem sacrificing ourselves for the well-being of others as our greatest purpose.” p 124

I liked the:

  • Emphasis that our happiness and ability to live a good story are based in Jesus, not our people. Our people can’t do that for us. “I must be willing to depend on no one but Jesus in order to tell the good story with my life.” p.113
  • Consistent encouragement to look to Jesus. “Only when we reject everyone but Jesus as the ultimate source of living water for our thirsty souls will we be free to see others as opportunities to put Jesus on display, no matter how they relate to us.” p 113
  • Assurance that we are able to do this with the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit supplies both a quietly solid awareness of His presence and a freeing realization of His power to enable us to fight the battle for a better love. p.195
  • support for loving others not as a manipulative way to get them to change/accept Jesus, but as a form of worship for God that will speak for him one way or another.

Two things that had me a little wary:

  • It’s easy to fall into works-based faith sometimes with this kind of reading.
  • Also one moment in the chapter about our identity as Image-Bearers the author brought up something about being a gendered image bearer (what the what?)…and then referred to a book he already wrote instead of breaking it down right there. Which is a good side-step… but it was weird and it did make me cringe. Though it was the only reference like that. so ok then.

Of course there will be things you agree with and disagree with in any book. Books are not the be-all end-all of wisdom or knowledge. No matter what anyone says or claims. They are more a jumping off place for further thought and explorations.

All-in-all, this is a good theological read for thinkers.

Most quotable quote:
“Walk the narrow road. Live the larger story. Battle for a better love. It’s why we’re alive.”
A Different Kind of Happiness: Discovering the Joy that Comes from Sacrificial Love, page 233

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(Disclaimers: Post contains amazon affiliate links. I received a review copy from Baker Books in exchange for an honest review.)

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