Monday Morning Devotion-May 8, 2023
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
*from April 2019 devotion.
In his book "Enemies of the Heart" Pastor Andy Stanley, founder of North Point Church in Atlanta, GA, says that there are four enemies of the heart. Before I name them let me share what Stanley wrote in setting up the disclosure of them:
"High cholesterol, triglycerides, and hypertension---all well-known foes wreaking havoc in the human heart. But as devastating as these can be, there are four other enemies of the heart that can't be measured in a doctor's office. Big pharmaceutical has nothing to touch them and they wreak havoc on young and old alike.
They're the four primary enemies of the heart---four life-blocking agents that become lodged in the heart, poisoning our relationships, our faith and our character. These corrosive forces gain strength from the darkness. Secrecy is their greatest ally. Left to their own, they grow in power and influence, like a lab experiment gone terribly wrong.
But, as we'll discover, these forces lose their power when exposed to light. Like roaches that scatter at the flick of a switch, so the four enemies of the heart dissipate when exposed to the light of truth.
Here they are:
Not the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse you expected? I assure you that practically every conflict and relational wound you've experienced can be traced back to one of these four."
Let's take a look at each of these individually so that we better understand how to battle back and defeat them:
Guilt: Stanley points out that guilt is one of those nouns that has been made into a verb. Ever been guilted into doing something or guilted someone else into taking an action that you want to have occur?
Guilt is actually a feeling that a person has done something wrong. Feeling guilty is like you owe something. "I owe him or her an apology."
Stanley says: "Nothing less than paying that debt will relieve a guilty heart of its burden of guilt. People try to work it off, serve it off, give it off, and even pray it off. But no amount of good deeds, community service, charitable giving or Sundays in a pew can relieve the guilt. It's a debt. And it must be paid or canceled for a guilty heart to experience relief."
Left unresolved guilt is a true enemy of the heart.
Anger: Anger basically says: "You owe me." Stanley says anger is the result of not getting something that we want. It may even be what we deserve. There is an appropriate way to free yourself from this anger. Allow God to access that part of your heart that harbors your anger and some amazing things will transpire.
Anger is a true enemy of the heart that only our amazing God can resolve.
Greed: If guilt says; "I owe You" and anger says: "You Owe me." Then greed says: "I owe me." Stanley says the bottom line is that greedy people believe they deserve every good thing that comes their way. It's a 'what's mine is mine because I have earned, it---and I've got a lot more coming."
One reason that greed is an enemy of the heart is because a consumer-driven culture keeps us focused on what we don't have instead of what we do have. The best answer to the greed problem is found in the power of generosity. The Lord loves a cheerful giver.
Greed is a true enemy of the heart!
Jealousy: Jealousy says: "God owes me." Jealous people immediately think of the things others have that they lack---looks, skills, opportunities, health, height, inheritance, etc. God could have fixed all that for us, right?
When someone you deem more fortunate than you suffers a setback then your jealously problem is solved, right? No way. Why? Because they are not your problem. Until you find a way to deal with your jealous heart, Stanley says you will be unable to follow the most basic of all Christian tenets---love one another.
Jealousy is a true enemy of the heart!
Taken as a whole each of these heart enemies causes us pain. They each need attention paid to them to solve the potential damage they can do.
Stanley says: "Confess, forgive, give, celebrate. These are the habits that will change everything. Once these four routines define the rhythm of your heart, life will be noticeably different. Why? Because these habits empower you to settle your outstanding debts with others, God, and even yourself.
In case you haven't figured it out already, these four habits set us free to love as God intends for us to love. Anger, greed, guilt, and jealousy are the antithesis of love. As long as these four monsters grow unchecked in your heart, your efforts to love will be short-lived, thwarted.
Like a doctor whose skilled hands poke and probe until they find a sensitive spot, so God's truth has a way of finding its mark…. If you give God access to those sensitive, otherwise off-limits areas of your life…the result may result in a freedom you never knew existed."
Prayer: Lord help us defeat these four enemies of the heart when they enter our lives, so we may express the Love you have blessed us with. Amen!