In Enemies or the Heart, Andy Stanley argues that the problems that bubble up in life (i.e. job loss, divorce, broken relationships) are result of our failure to address the destructive forces in our heart. These forces poison our lives and set us up for crisis. It is failure to deal with the enemies of the heart that cause some people to lose there faith. So what are these enemies of the heart?
Ostensibly, Stanley suggests four attitudes are experienced as deep debts in the heart: Guilt, Anger, Greed, Jealousy. Guilt is the belief that “I owe you;” we’ve done something wrong for which we feel we need to atone for.
Anger on the other hand say, “you owe me.” You did something wrong and I hold it against you.
Greed says, “I owe me.” I am going to store up what I can for myself.
Jealousy says “God owes me” as we reflect upon the inequity between our life and someone else (who is better than us).
Stanley says every wound we carry can be traced back to one of these four. So what are the remedies for these ailments?
Guilt is overcome by confession. Stanley stresses public confession as necessary to break the cycle of shame guilt puts us in. Anger is overcome as we learn forgiveness. This involves knowing who wronged us, what they did, what they deserve and our choosing to let go of it. Greed is overcome as we stop hoarding and develop the habit of generosity. Jealousy is beaten when we learn to celebrate those around us.
Andy Stanley has written a good book. It is accessible, warm, humorous and insightful. What I didn’t like about this book wasn’t what it said, but how it was framed. Stanley offers his advice to us so that we could avoid wounding, be whole and have the best life, including best spiritual life we can. Not that this is wrong, but I wonder about the wisdom of commending holy living (a phrase which doesn’t appear in his book) for what it does for you. Why should we avoid guilt, anger, greed, jealousy? So that we are happier and healthier? Why should we confess, forgive, give generously and celebrate others? So that we have better lives? Yes but more.
What happens when holiness doesn’t make your life better? You confess and people judge you. You forgive and get hurt again. You give generously and are taken advantage of. You celebrate others and they use you. Well, there is something more to a holy life besides what it does for you. Sometimes all you get out of it, is that you know you are pleasing God. Holiness is not always instrumental and shouldn’t be treated that way.
But this demurral aside, I thought this book was worth reading and certainly touches on some pretty big issues that every Christian (and non-Christian) needs to wrestle with if they are to grow in their walk with God.
I received a copy for review from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for this fair and incredibly honest review.