How are things with your heart? That’s the question Andy Stanley asks in this book, but of course he’s not talking about cardiac tissue, blockages, blood pressure, arteries, valves or cholesterol.
He’s asking about the deep down places of our soul, the corners we like to sweep things into and the junk we pretend doesn’t exist. We certainly don’t usually deal with the emotions lurking there or how they control us and our relationships. In fact, we’re most likely to overlook them entirely or excuse them as just “how I am,” “how God made me,” or some other such nonsense that trivializes God’s capacity to transform us into Christ-likeness and keeps us comfortable in our sin.
In Psalm 139:23-24, David wrote: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!“
Reading Stanley’s book is like praying this prayer. It’s “dangerous” in that what God reveals about the sins of attitude, emotion and motivation may be painful to see. We usually remain pretty pleased with ourselves when we simply keep our behavior in check. Yet, addressing the hidden junk in our emotions is what we need to do to move forward in spiritual growth.
Stanley covers four enemies of the heart and defines each in a unique, fresh, and insightful way: Guilt (I Owe You); Anger (You Owe Me); Greed: (I Owe Me); and Jealousy (God Owes Me). For each, he gives extremely practical steps rooted in Scripture that will help us overcome any of these emotions that hold us captive.
As challenging and convicting as the book really is, Stanley never comes across as “preachy” or condescending. Mostly, it’s like sitting across from a good friend or older brother who is telling you what he’s learned from experience with honesty, transparency and humor.
The book includes discussion questions that can be used for group study and I think for a small group that’s willing to drop any super-spiritual facades and be honest about our heart conditions, it’d work really well. For an individual, it can be a groundbreaking challenge and an eye-opening first step to victory in your Christian life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing these things in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”