Maybe you think you don’t have a problem with one or any of these issues. Read Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control You and think again! I already knew that sometimes I deal with guilt and anger, but I never thought of myself as a greedy or jealous. Andy Stanley asked some thought-provoking questions that pierced light in the dark corners of my heart.
The four enemies of the heart are all about owing someone. The problem:
- Guilt says “I owe you”. The only way I can make things right is to pay up. The only way my heart will get relief is for my debt to be paid or cancelled. Guilt can lead to bad relational decisions.
- Anger says “You owe me”. Anger results from not getting something we want. How long are we going to allow the people who have hurt us to control our life? We have a choice in the matter, even though we can’t undo what’s been done.
- Greed says “I owe me”. What’s mine is mine because I earned it. I don’t part with money or stuff because I’m scared to. I might need it someday.
- Jealousy says “God owes me”. We can’t always get what we want. We become jealous when we think of the things others have that we lack, and while we assume the problem is with that person who has it, the problem is really with God who could have fixed it.
Andy Stanley doesn’t stop at the problem. The remaining two-thirds of the book dive into confronting the disease. In a nutshell:
- Guilt is conquered with confession.
- Anger is conquered with forgiveness.
- Greed is conquered with generosity.
- Jealousy is conquered with celebration.
He doesn’t try to oversimplify it into a series of steps, but rather, clarifies that confronting these are more like “processes” that must be repeated. He explores the power of confession, unleashing forgiveness, gaining perspective, releasing blame, and many habits to practice. While providing concrete, biblical advice, he insists that the routines, when practiced, will define the rhythm of your heart and make your life noticeably different.
In the book’s conclusion, just before a section of discussion questions for each chapter, he describes how to raise your children so that they are attuned to what’s inside of them. He pointedly asks which question do you ask more, “Is your room clean?” or a question about the heart like “Are you worried about anything today?”
This conversational style book is scripturally based and almost brings it back to the cross, where all out debts are cancelled, though I felt this could have been emphasized more. I was surprised that he claims the root of all problems is these four issues, but he never mentions the root of the four issues themselves. He never addresses it or even states the word - pride. Maybe he’s planning a sequel. The book was enlightening as well as practical and I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed herein are my own.