Paying my debts with Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart

On Sunday 19 November 2017, whilst seated in 12 C on British Airways flight BA 6240 from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, tears streamed down my face as I clutched onto my copy of Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Emotions that Control You. The seat next to me was empty, and the man in the window seat was captured by the views outside. The man seated across the aisle from me had however noticed my tears and was visibly uncomfortable. I decided it would be best to stop reading Enemies of the Heart, I didn’t have the energy to explain to my co-workers why I was crying should my eyes still be red once I got off the plane. The book hit me where it hurt, my heart.

Andy Stanley Enemies of the Heart book review

I had started reading the book a few days earlier and at the time of my trip, I was still in part one. Stanley had been describing the symptoms of a sick heart, both in the physical and emotional sense. He made parallels between a physically sick heart and an emotionally sick heart. This enables the reader to understand that just like when your physical heart is sick, if your heart is spiritually and emotionally sick, you need to treat it. Damage to our hearts makes us numb, it affects our relationships with our friends, family and God. And my heart (was and still is) so sick. His words touched me and moved me to tears. Tears that fell uncontrollably as I silently swept them away with my hand. I put the book down and decided to read the book when I was ready. Thanks to life as we know it, I wasn’t able to read the book in a while.

In the first part, Stanley introduces us the four emotions that make us sick: guilt, anger, greed and jealousy. In the second part, Stanley gives us an understanding of each of the emotions, comparing them to a debt that we owe. He explains the power that these debts hold over us and that unless we “pay them” they will continue hold power over us. We experience guilt when we feel like we owe someone else, anger when someone else owes us. We are greedy when we feel that we owe ourselves and we are jealous we feel that God owes us.

In the third part, Stanley provides us with methods to make our hearts stronger and pay our debts. This is done through confession, forgiveness, generosity and celebration. You’ll have to read the book to learn more. The last part of the book is discussion questions. Truth be told, I haven’t yet worked through them, but give me time.

The irony is that later in the book, Stanley explains that we can’t wait until we’re ready or until our hearts are stronger, to work on making our hearts stronger.We can only make our hearts stronger by working on them. There’ll always be something to be guilty, envious, greedy or jealous about.

I feel like I read this book at the right time. I shouldn’t have read it on that trip. Recently an incident happened at work that made me feel so guilty (even though I am not the one would caused it, due to my position I felt at fault, because if I had been aware of the contents of a document I didn’t have, I would I been able to stop this incident from happening). I felt so guilty that I couldn’t sleep or eat. With Stanley’s advice fresh in my mind, I took the advice of the book and I confessed. More than once, and to more than one person, and I felt so much better. I definitely intend on trying the rest of the advice Stanley gives and working through the discussion questions.

If you are a Christian (or are open to reading Christian books) and you feel like your heart is heavy, I would most definitely recommend this book. It can be purchased at Christian booksellers such as CUM Books.

Images via Pexels.

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