Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts with vigilance because from it flow springs of life. In short, this book is about guarding your heart but it’s also about personal transformation and the road which leads there. Minding the Heart: The Way of Spiritual Transformation is a book desperately needed today amongst the up and coming generation of church leaders. From what I have noticed, we want to emphasize deep theological commitments and far-reaching social ministers but we falter when it comes to personal transformation and what Jonathan Edwards called, “religious affections”.
I must admit when I first received this book I immediately thought it was going to be like every other book in the spiritual growth section of the bookstore. I figured the author would speak of how evil my heart was and how much harder I needed to try to fix that in order to be right before God’s holy throne. Since I was judging a book by its cover I was really in for a surprise when I began to dive into the pages of this text.
Saucy does begin his book by describing our heart and what is revealed in Scripture regarding this vital organ. He begins with the gospel and what Christ has done to change our evil hearts. He speaks of attitude, growth, and a human flourishing which does not mean we have our best lives now, but it means we are a work in progress and our hearts are the main engine propelling us in this journey. In the first section of the book Saucy dives into the heart and examines it from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. He gives a bit of psychology and then moves along those same lines to a philosophical understanding of the heart.
He then goes on to bring the reader into the core of the heart and it’s method of transformation, the gospel. He picks up the topic of renewal in the mind as the conduit through which the heart may be transformed as well. Urging the reader to be filled with Scripture because God is active in it Saucy notes, “To be sure a person is surely more than his words, but his words cannot be separated from him. The most significant means through which we reveal ourselves to another as persons is through our words. Our words reveal our heat, for ‘the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart’ (Matt 12:34. God’s Word is thus God speaking to us from his heart.”
From the mind and meditation we move into the community of believers as a method for transformation and what that looks like. Saucy relates ancient Israel as a community who were transformed by God to be his people and so it is the same with us today. By being united to Christ we are transformed into people he has created for his glory. On the earthly side of the coin by being united to one another in love we experience the unique relationships which cause us to truly be ourselves. Apart from this community our flourishing may be slow or non-existent and so it becomes that community of people which God uses to grow us as into mature beings.
In the remaining sections of the book Saucy points us toward a holistic view of the heart and transformation, making much of the obedience of faith and dying to ourselves. He roots these in the command of God to love which trumps all other commands. From early on in my Christian walk I was exposed to this concept of loving God and loving people. I was told that if I were to do these two things then there would be no room for sin. You can’t love God and love people and sin all at the same time.
Saucy concludes by pointing us to Scripture. He shows us the gospel in a way that anyone can understand. He speaks of the yoke of Christ, and the extent to which we receive it, as being the fountain of transformation. This book seems to come from a man who has bore this yoke for some time now and, though not perfectly, has found out this yoke to be a joy even in the rough parts of life.
I enjoyed this book as I read about how the heart can truly be changed. It’s not a way many may think of or even be bold enough to try. It’s a long road to transformation which requires faith-wrought obedience and a diligence in guarding your heart. The actions don’t stop there though. Transformation continues in us when we seek out a community of believers and share our lives with them as a part of our union with Christ. Since we have this same union let us be slow in giving up and persevere in our walk with Christ. This book has opened up new avenues of growth in my own life and I pray will change everyone who picks up this volume. This is not just another spiritual growth book that is intended for the masses, this is a book intended for the believers who are guarding their hearts as the wellspring of life.
Minding The Heart: The Way of Spiritual Transformation Robert Saucy / Kregel Publications, 2013 Review Copy Courtesy of Kregel Publications