ENEMIES OF THE HEART Breaking Free From the Four Emotions That Control You By Andy Stanley “Life can be hard on the heart. The world is full of outside influences that have the power to disrupt the power of the heart.” But over time we desensitize our hearts and throw our hearts out of their natural sync. Most people do not pay attention to the condition of their heart, but rather their behavior. “Treating the symptoms masks the real culprit” and “delays treatment of the problem.” The longer we ignore our “spiritual heart disease” the greater the risk that it will destroy us. Andy Stanley will help us discover our problem areas so we can treat the root cause of our disease. Exceptions to our behavior are reflections of what is actually in our heart. “What’s in your heart comes out at home, where you’ve turned off the ‘safety’ and let down your defenses. That’s when the heart exposes itself in the most negative ways to the people you love the most.” Everyone is like a “volcano waiting to erupt.” But what can we do to prevent this hurtful volatility of the heart? Everything we experience goes through our heart, but the bad things tend to get trapped and eventually erupt. But because we have to build up we don’t know where this behavior comes from. Often our earliest heart damage occurs during childhood, and because no one was around to help us release our hurt right away, we begin erecting walls to prevent future hurts. But when we hold onto our wounds we continually re-injure ourselves and damage our close relationships with others. Because we don’t want others to know enough about us to wound us, we tend to keep everyone at a distance on the other side of our protective wall. Some people are so wounded that they have lost their faith in God, but if they can “address their heart issues” many times they rediscover their faith. “There are four… enemies of the heart that can’t be measured in a doctor’s office.” These enemies are susceptible to truth. What are these enemies you wonder, “they are: Guilt, Anger, Greed, and Jealousy” and every wound “can be traced back to one of these four.” “Guilt is the result of having done something we perceive as wrong.” This wrong can be viewed as theft and therefore a debt we owe to the wronged party so “we feel obligated to pay something.” But our attempts to pay off our debt incurs more debt and further damages those around us. When we owe someone a debt we tend to avoid them in an attempt to lessen our guilt while we slip further into debt. “Guilt says, ‘I owe you.’ Anger, on the other hand, says, ‘You owe me’.” Anger is the end product of not getting what we want and what we feel we deserve. Anger people are hurting people who feel something has been stolen from them and they want to make someone, anyone pay. Therefore anger people are “equal opportunity avengers” and if you get close to them “you’re going to get dumped on.” When we justify our anger with a hurt that we suffered years ago we are giving control of our life to the one who hurt us. “The third enemy…greed says ‘I owe me’.” Greedy people hide their disease from themselves by describing themselves as savers or planners. They are not happy when they have to part with money and always want more. Greed is an equal opportunity disease that afflicts rich and poor alike. Greed requires a person to gather possessions to make themselves feel secure, but that feeling of security never comes. “Jealousy says, ‘God owes me’.” We seen an inequity between our life and someone else’s - an inequity that God could have fixed. God could have made us better. But we never realize our jealousy is against God, we think it is against the person who has what we don’t have. We revel in others loses. Jealousy shows the condition of the heart more readily than the other three because can’t excuse or justify jealousy. Jealousy keeps us from obeying Christ’s command to “love one another.” “Envy can wreak irreparable damage upon any relationship or organization.” Changing the condition of our heart is not as simple as saying “Change my heart, oh God.” In most cases it requires effort on our part that often brings pain and discomfort. We need to form new habits so we can break the old diseased habits. But we don’t want to work for our cure we want to happen overnight, sparing us any discomfort. To free ourselves from the power of guilt we must confess the dark secrets in our hearts. This is the first step to recovery and restoration. Our confession is not to be a private one to God, but rather a confession to the person you have wronged. By swallowing our pride we loosen guilt’s hold on our heart. As long as our guilt is hidden we feel free to be a repeat offender, but public confession breaks this cycle. Confession may also free the wronged person from the anger they are suffering from. The most dangerous enemy of the heart is anger, and its cure is forgiveness. “We are commanded to ‘get rid of’ anger.: But how do we do this? We need to stop being the victim and “extend kindness and compassion to those who have wronged us,” and we must forgive them “just as in Christ God forgave us.” When we “refuse to forgive is to chose to self-destruct.” Forgiveness is what frees me from the prison my anger has constructed for me. We are to forgive because God forgave us. Before we can forgive we must first identify who our anger is directed at and then determine what was taken from us and what we feel we are owed. We can then go before God and cancel the debt and if the memory resurfaced remind yourself the debt has been canceled.. When we confront greed we are confronting our “fear that God can’t or won’t take care of us.” So greedy people determine that they are the only one capable of taking care of themselves. In the eyes of a greedy person stuff equals time, the more you acquire the longer you’ll have to enjoy it. But to store up here leaves you nothing for the life yet to come. To break greed’s hold we must ask why God has given us so much and we must share what He has given us. We must give so that our way of living is impacted and must give cheerfully. We own nothing, but we are managers of God’s property. Jealousy becomes resentment so when we tackle jealousy we must confront our resentment as well. We must realize that jealousy is a result of not getting what we want. We must take this dissatisfaction to God, if we are unable to tell God that He owes us we are on the road to recovery. To destroy jealousy’s hold we need to celebrate in the success of other and be happy for them. Make this a habit until it becomes part of who you are. We need to realize that all conflicts are caused by someone not getting what they want. If you do get what you want you will not be satisfied and you will want it again. We must stop playing the blame game and accept the responsibility of our actions. We need to take our requests to God, if it is for our good He will give it to us if our motive is pure. “Like father, like son isn’t just a cliché; our kids … share our propensities towards anger, guilt , greed and jealousy. We have the capacity to pass along… spiritual corruption… so we need to tackle these issues head-on in our lives.” These conditions shape our homes and our children’s hearts. “Home environments mirror the hearts of those who head the home.” Children learn from example, words mean nothing if the actions do not follow. We must guard our hearts and watch what goes into them. When we allow one of these enemies to fester we give Satan a way in to our heart. This opening weakens us to the temptation of sin - especially sexual sins because our emotions are thrown off balance. A healthy heart helps us fight temptation and allows us “to love as God intends us to love. Anger greed, guilt, and jealousy are the antithesis of love.” First Corinthians 13: 4 - 7 should guide our lives because it shows love as God intended it. Includes Discussion Questions to reflect and discuss Broken into 6 weeks for Group study, but the weeks are by topic rather than by chapter.