When I got the chance to read Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley, I jumped at the chance. I had already read it once under its previous title, but it had been years since I’d read it, so I wanted a refresher course in the principles that Stanley offered. That fact alone — that I read the book twice — signifies my resounding endorsement for it. With all the good books available to read in the world, I rarely read anything twice.
The book itself is an easy read; the chapters are short and can easily be consumed in about the time it takes to down a cup of coffee in the morning. Usually books that read this quickly don’t do much for me because I wind up feeling like I’ve wasted time reading fluff, but Stanley’s insights in this book are literally mind — or perhaps more accurately, heart — altering. Since he covers guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy, I feel certain there’s at least a little bit of insight in this book for anyone who picks it up with an openness to examining their heart. And, one of the strengths of the book is that readers will examine their hearts. Stanley isn’t heavy-handed or judgmental (in fact, the book contains quite a bit of slightly corny humor), but at the end of the day, I was still left recognizing that the issues of the heart being discussed were my issues of the heart. Stanley’s solutions to the issues that he uncovers are just as concise as his diagnosis of them, which is helpful because readers can immediately set to work in implementing them and can tailor them in appropriate ways to unique situations. However, readers shouldn’t be fooled; the issues of the heart can be messy, and Stanley’s suggestions, though concise, sometimes call for difficult actions, actions that will break destructive cycles.
Finally, the best feature of the book for me is that Stanley describes each of the four human reactions of guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy by using a debt scenario. He explains that we react to circumstances because we either feel that we own someone or someone owes us. I’ve never heard guilt, anger, greed, or jealously explained through those lens so clearly, and the best part was that this debt-oriented framework was easy to remember long after I’d put the book down. When I had one of those reactions, I could run it through the framework suggested by Stanley and take action more quickly to ensure that poor attitudes didn’t clutter my heart. I also walked away more convinced than ever that a heart harboring garbage from the past sets a person up for destructive actions that harm self and others, so it’s imperative to deal with the garbage. I feel so strongly about the value of what Stanley has to say that I’d honestly put this in a top ten list if someone asked me for a list of books that have influenced my Christian life.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of the book by Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest book review.