Enemies of the Heart

In Andy Stanley’s book, Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions that Control You, he discusses four emotions that can trap us and rob us of healthy relationships with ourselves, one another, and the Lord. He describes these four emotions in terms of perceived debt:

  • Guilt – I owe you
  • Anger – You owe me
  • Greed – I owe myself
  • Jealousy – God owes me

If you haven’t read the book, it’s worth picking up; it isn’t long, and the discussion is enlightening. JP’s sermon on September 1st gives a good take on these four emotions as well. Thinking through these four emotions, regardless of whether you believe they constitute an exhaustive list, can help challenge your assumptions about yourself, and those around you, and God.

The Bible has a lot to say about debts and how they are paid. We sing songs about debt too: “Jesus Paid it All (All to Him I Owe),” “He Paid a Debt He Did Not Owe,” or “The Passion,” which carries the line “Our chains are gone, Our debt is paid….” For that matter, debt is a big topic in the news – from the national debt to the rising personal household debt.

Ultimately, these emotions boil down to one thing: an unguarded heart is one that loves poorly. Having appropriate love is what leads to healthy relationships. Paul may have expressed it best in Romans 13:

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect, if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other commands there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 
Romans 13:7-10, NIV, emphasis added

So now consider which of the four emotions above is/are eating at you. Who is owed, and by whom? Awareness is the first step. Now take God’s love, mercy, grace, and hope forward into those places in your heart and do the hard work of healing well, so that you may love as He does – unconditionally.
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