Enemies Of The Heart: Breaking Free From The Four Emotions That Control You, by Andy Stanley
This book, like a few others , was recommended to me by a friend of mine who I once briefly dated as a college student. It was a particularly good recommendation, as the author is a mainstream Christian leader in the Atlanta area who happens to be friends with Louie Giglio, founder of Passion  and a gentleman who speaks quite personally and passionately about matters of the heart  from the point of view of the Bible and Christianity. At the core of this book is a concern on the part of the author that many people do not examine and reflect upon and deal with what is in their heart. Their focus tends to be on outward behavior and not in inward states of mind that will eventually drive their behavior. For a variety of reasons, I am someone who has paid a great deal of attention to matters of the heart for myself and others, although I do not know how much good it has done me in a practical sense, given that it has tended to increase my caution and reflection, which tend to be rather excessive in general anyway.
The book is organized in an interesting fashion, and one that is worth commenting on a bit. The author introduces his subject by going at length about the care that we take towards our physical hearts and the fact that when we have heart problems we tend to start by looking at symptoms and only later on realize that they spring from heart trouble. The author then examines four particular problems of the heart that are all related to matters of felt debt: guilt (I owe you), anger (you owe me), greed (I owe me), and jealousy (God owes me). After somewhat entertainingly talking about these problems in a highly confessional way, and in a way that might be a bit awkward or embarrassing to those who have much to reflect on concerning their own hearts, the author then discusses four cures for these enemies of the heart: confession to unburden our hearts from secrets, forgiveness to write off the unpayable debts that others owe us, generosity to increase our trust in God’s provision, and celebration to replace our envy for what others have with appreciation for how God has blessed them. The author then closes in a somewhat lengthy discussion about his own family and about the issue of lust, which the author does not consider to be as much an enemy of the heart as the others, namely because if it were not for our lust/desire, we would seldom be motivated to form relationships and seek after intimacy at all. I know this to be all too true when it comes to me, as my own personal issues with intimacy are at such an extent that if it were not for my immense longing and desire I would not risk my heart at all when it came to matters of intimacy and romantic love.
For all of its awkward oversharing, I found this book to be quite a worthwhile one. The book clearly diagnosed and gave practical and sensible treatments for problems that I have long struggled with, and that are pretty common in humanity at large. The oversharing of the author, so long as it does not alienate his wife and children, had the result of making it easy to identify with the author as a fellow person struggling to do the right thing, which is far better than the alternative of dealing with someone who thinks they have everything in their lives under control. When one gives corrective advice, especially in our present age, it tends to come off far better if one makes it clear that one understands problems from personal experience and has empathy and compassion on those struggling with the same issues. I am not sure why it is the case that identification is such an important matter, but I found that the author’s ability to pinpoint these difficulties in his own life, and his efforts to overcome them, made this book a lot easier to appreciate and enjoy and to reflect upon than it would otherwise been had the author taken a different approach. If you find that your own heart is not doing as well as you would like, this is a worthwhile book to read and reflect upon as well, since many of us labor under the effect of various corrosive perceived debts acquired over the course of our lives.
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