Tag Archives: Jealousy

Battling Enemies – A Book Review

A couple of months ago our pastor did a sermon series based on Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley. He encouraged the whole congregation to read the book along with the sermon series. I resisted buying it because I knew if I went to Amazon to buy it I would end up with one or more other books in my cart so that I could get the free super saver shipping that comes with spending more than $25.

Then one evening my husband found a towel rack for our kitchen on Amazon and since I have an Amazon account he asked if I could get it for us. Well, of course I had to add something else to the cart for that super saver shipping. So I decided to get Deep & Wide. But once I added it to my cart I still was below $25, which prompted me to look around for another book to buy. I ended up with another Andy Stanley book called Enemies of the Heart.

I have yet to crack the spine on Deep & Wide, but I read Enemies of the Heart cover to cover in less than a week. I found in this small book some truths that I knew but needed to hear again in a new way.

The great thing about Andy Stanley is that his writing style is so readable. The concepts he shares are deep, but he doesn’t use big words and convoluted arguments to convey them. The message of Enemies of the Heart is simple: there are four emotions that if left unchecked will control our lives in a negative way, but God has provided a way to deal with each of these toxic emotions. The four emotions are guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy.

I’m going to share Stanley’s insights in a nutshell, but I strongly encourage you to read the whole book because it is the anecdotes and the scripture references he uses to flesh out these insights that have really helped me to hold onto their truth. So here’s the nutshell version:

  1. Guilt says, “I owe you.” This emotion stems from actions we have taken that have hurt others. The solution is confession, not just to God but to the person we have hurt.
  2. Anger says, “You owe me.” This emotion stems from actions others have taken that have hurt us and the debt we feel they owe us. To solution is forgiveness, which requires that we figure out what the other person has taken from us, and then to make the conscious decision to cancel that debt.
  3. Greed says, “I owe me.” This emotion stems from a fear that we will lose what we have, that our future is uncertain, and a tendency to hang onto our possessions matter what. The solution is generous giving, which ultimately leads to a trust in God to provide our needs.
  4. Jealousy says, “God owes me.” This emotion stems from a belief that if God could provide a nice car, a big house, a great job, etc. for my neighbor, then He could have done the same for me. Jealousy is not a problem with the person who has what we want, it is a problem with God, who has not provided us with what we want. The solution is to celebrate the blessings of others.

All of these enemies of the heart involve debt—and debt must either be repaid or cancelled, or it will always cloud relationships. Sometimes we don’t even realize a debt is owed, so often just identifying the enemy is the first step. Stanley does a great job in this book of getting to the heart of the matter and helping the reader to identify the emotional enemies that are holding them back from enjoying loving and vibrant relationships with family, friends, and God. I would give this book a definite 5 out of 5 stars.

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The Heart of Mankind

I read this quote by Nelson Mandela posted on Facebook the other day:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

At first glance this quote seems right and a wonderful sentiment. And it is partly true — people can be taught to love and the objects of hatred are often taught. But I’m not sure I agree with the idea that no one is born hating. If no human being was ever born hating then who taught mankind to hate? It had to start somewhere.

In Genesis we see Cain expressing hatred for his brother Abel — hatred so strong it led him to commit the first murder. If Cain was not born with that propensity to hate, then who taught him to hate his brother? Surely it wasn’t his parents, Adam and Eve. What did they know of hatred? Only what they had learned from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but I doubt they would have taught that knowledge to Cain and suggest that it was the better course.

After several generations had passed after that first act of hatred by Cain, the Bible tells us, “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5 (NIV). Nothing has changed since that time.

I believe that envy, jealousy, selfishness, and pride, which lead to hatred, are all more natural to the human heart than love. I know that when I once looked into my own heart, this is what I saw. Even now there are times when those feelings can so easily rear their ugly head. I doubt that I am so different from other people in this regard, and yet so many fail to see the defects in their own hearts but want to believe that love comes more naturally to them.

Not only can we be taught to love, we must be taught to love. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV). Apart from God, and the knowledge of His great love and mercy, the inclinations of the human heart continue to be towards evil. Love flourishes in the human heart and overcomes hatred and selfishness only where love is taught.

Thankfully, “God is love,” 1 John 4:8 (NIV), and He is willing to change the human heart that trusts in Him.

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