Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley (2011, previously published in 2006 as It Came from Within) was an easy read - maybe too easy, since I found myself agreeing with just about everything in the book – without having to think about it. There are lots of positives about the book, but it’s still difficult for me to rate: I liked it; it was written in an easy-to-read style, scripture references were appropriate, and regardless of your theological preferences there is something in this book that will touch your heart, but... Having said that, I didn’t finish the book with an urgent need to encourage everyone I know to read it. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it; the included study guide is well thought out and helpful, and I’ll probably use bits and pieces in sermons or counseling sessions from time to time, it’s just not as compelling as some of the other books I’ve read recently.
The book addresses an issue that every Christian has to deal with at some time: that attitude of the heart that so clearly gets in the way of the relationship that we want to have with God, that we want to have with others, and that God wants to have with us. In fact Stanley says these enemies of the heart are busy poisoning our relationships, our faith and our character.
Using metaphors concerning who owes who (‘I owe you’, ‘you owe me’, ‘I owe me’, and ‘God owes me’): Stanley addresses four major heart diseases: Guilt, Anger, Jealousy and Greed, he discusses the symptoms of each of the diseases, and he also offers some simple solutions to those heart problems: “Confess, forgive, give, celebrate. These are the habits that will change everything.
The section on forgiveness was particularly compelling, and if you read only that it would be worth the price of the book. Stanley teaches the reader how to reframe hurt as a debt. “you know what the person who hurt you did, but what exactly did they take? Until you know the answer to that question, you’re not ready to forgive.” And forgiveness, is all about cancelling the debt!
I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.