Many of us believe that our not so appealing character traits (whether that’s anger, greed or jealousy for example) can be modified by simply changing our behaviours. We read books, go to seminars and listen to podcasts, all with the hope that we will uncover the key to changing who we are. Whether it’s a 14-day habit buster or a guide to being a better person, we’ve become convinced that the key to changing these characteristics is changing our behaviour. The truth is, we may be able to monitor and manage what people see of us for a while, but what’s inside always has a way of coming out. This was the first lesson Enemies of the Heart held for me. I sometimes think that by deciding to be kinder, less jealous, more loving, I’m changing who I truly am. But these small adjustments don’t create a lasting effect on the health of my character; the only real way to heal is to get to the cause, and the cause is always the heart.
Behaviour isn’t an accurate indicator of what’s going on inside; so don’t just try to change your behaviour
When left unchecked guilt, anger, jealousy and greed can all lodge themselves in our hearts, thus affecting our hearts’ ability to love and live freely. I loved this book as it looked at the four ‘enemies’ separately, explaining how each one finds its way into our hearts, how we try to justify their existence or impact on our lives, and how we can rid ourselves of them. The practical and freeing steps within this book are underpinned by God’s truth, and when read, prayed over and implemented, aid the reader on a healing journey.
Without giving too much away – as I want you to read the book for yourself – I’ll share what I learnt about the two enemies of the heart that resonated with me the most – guilt and anger.
Guilt says I owe you. So, confess.
Guilt is an enemy that encases us in. It holds our mistakes ever before us, and although we do everything within our power to rid ourselves of it, it lingers. It’s pretty suffocating, pretty immobilising, pretty oppressive. Guilt says I owe you: I owe you for screwing up, for breaking your trust and for hurting you. But no matter what you do to repay the debt and restore the relationship, guilt remains. Feeling guilty? Who do you owe? Who have you hurt and instead of being able to move forward in your life, are left with a burden of guilt and remnants of a shattered relationship? James admonishes us to confess our sins to one another. Not because we need to share our dirty laundry or become the topic of conversation, but because confession is a gateway to freedom. Like fresh air, confessing the sin you have done blows away the guilt that once lingered. As beneficial as confession is for us, it’s also beneficial to the person whom we have hurt – the one we feel we owe. Confessing to them encourages them to let go of the debt they held so begrudgingly against us and in turn, are free.
Anger says you owe me. So, forgive.
Anger is justifiable – let’s just be honest. And to a certain extent, holding on to anger as a response to someone hurting you, or the life that has been given to you, feels good. However, just because it’s justifiable doesn’t mean it’s beneficial. You may have the rights to be angry, but anger steals from you and not the person you’re angry towards. It’s holding you back, it’s causing you to bitter, and it’s causing you to not be free. As the book says, ‘Show me an angry person, and I’ll show you a hurt person.’ So, feeling anger? Who hurt you? Who let you down? Yes, you may have legitimised what you feel, but by holding on to anger you could be allowing your hurt to be the driving force of your life – is it worth it? Enemies of the Heart encourages us to forgive those who have hurt us. I laugh because forgiving people takes practice, but when we realise the extent to which we’ve been forgiven, our only response can be to forgive others. I mean, if Christ cancelled our debts, who are we to uphold the debts of others? Ultimately, we’re all undeserving souls that are in need of forgiveness.
If we’re real about it, there’s many of us who are feeling anger towards God and I love that this book tears apart the notion that we have a right to be angry at him… it kinda reminds me of The Shack.
Guilt and anger are just two of the enemies spoken about within Enemies of the Heart, it also looks at jealousy which says God owes me and greed which says I owe me. To some degree, we all have or have had these enemies make a home in our wells. Many times we’re not aware of their existence, and they only become apparent when the fruit we’re bearing become sour. My prayer for myself, the ladies in the book club and all who read this post is that the Holy Spirit will reveal the enemies that have taken root in our heart, and then by His grace help us to uproot them.
If you do order yourself a copy, here are the questions we discussed while reading as a group. Be blessed!