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The Good News about How Bad We Are: Brant Hansen

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 11, 2023 5:15 am

The Good News about How Bad We Are: Brant Hansen

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 11, 2023 5:15 am

What if your self-righteousness is cannibalizing your life? National radio host Brant Hansen explains the multifaceted freedom of admitting how bad we are.

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Connect with Brant on Twitter @branthansen or on Facebook @branthansenpage.

Learn more Brant on his website:

And grab his book, The Truth About Us: The Very Good News About How Very Bad We Are—or receive it free with your donation.

How does the concept of self-righteousness influence parenting? Check out our blog post: Does Raising Children with a Concept of Sin Harm Them?

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Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

Jesus is so genius. And again, it's for us. So we think, well, maybe I'll forgive this person for their own good.

No, no, no. It's for you. It's like, yeah, it's so hard to forgive.

I'm like, it is. But you know what's harder? Living a life of unforgiveness.

That's a horrible burden to bear. Going around, well, I'm going to prove my point. I'm going to be justified. I'm going to teach everybody lessons. This is a heavy thing to be attached to. Anger.

Right. So Jesus is saying, follow my way of living. Work with me. Yoke yourself with me. I'll give you a lighter load.

It's going to be better. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Dave Wilson. And I'm Ann Wilson.

And you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So it's known on the Internet as the cookie thief story. You ever heard it?

True story. A woman's at an airport. She's got a little delay. She's getting ready to sit in this chair. And she has a bag of cookies and she sort of puts them on the seat in between her and this other guy. And she's taking a cookie out. And this guy reaches in her cookie bag and takes a cookie out. And she sort of looks at him like, what? She's so offended.

And he does it like three or four times. And then finally, there's one cookie left. And she hasn't said anything, but she is so irate. This guy, some stranger's eating her cookies.

And there's one cookie left. And she's like, what is he going to do? And she looks over and he takes the cookie out, breaks it, and gives her half and sort of looks at her. And she gets up and she's so mad. She walks to the plane. She gets on the plane. She's like, this guy's the biggest jerk. I can't believe he ate my cookies.

You know what's going to happen. She gets on the plane. She opens her purse. And there's the cookie bag that she never opened. It was his bag of cookies that she was eating.

And I honestly went online to think, is this even true? It's a true story. Because you used it in your sermon. Because I remember thinking, when you don't know where it's going, I thought, she ate his cookies. And she was so self-righteous.

Like, what kind of man would put his hand in my cookie bag? But obviously, it illuminates how we are. We see the sin in others. It's hard for us to see the sin in ourselves. And we've got Brant Hansen back, who's the best at doing this. You see the sin?

No. Brant Hansen, welcome back to Family Life Today. Thank you. Honored to be back. I mean, as you know, a lot of that you write about in your book, The Truth About Us, the very good news about how very bad we are.

I love this book. And we spent yesterday talking about that kind of thing, where there's all kinds of biases we have. But we've all done that. So here's the question. When we bring that bias, that lens that we see the world in, into relationships, let's talk about how it destroys. Our first inclination is that if I'm saying it, it has all this energy behind it, all this weight, because I said it. You wind up defending the thing that you said to the point where it's just silly.

You can be wrong. You guys shared a vulnerable example of being completely wrong about which direction north is with your neighbors, which is hilarious and honest. But it's so funny.

Once you hear yourself say it, you will go to the mat for that. It really is true. When it comes out of your mouth, you're going to defend it stronger.

It's all prideful of us, too. Well, it's just the way it works, which is fascinating because cognitive scientists are saying it. There's all these biases, and you can go look them up. They're very interesting because once you become aware of them, you make better decisions. That's the thing I'm trying to say in this book. By humbling yourself, what Jesus is saying, his way of life, you're going to make better decisions because you're going to factor through for this stuff. We justify anything at the drop of a hat. I use the example in the book, just a pretty benign example, of just like, I have a budget.

I am not buying anything more out of my clothing budget, and I'm at a mall, and this shirt's on sale. Suddenly, what do you do? You start rearranging. Yes. There's this fun from the entertainment fun. I can put it over here.

Maybe next thing, you got a new shirt. Yeah. It's that fast. Yeah. It's something you line up these reasons to justify what you want. It'd be great to not be driven that way. The cool thing is, though, you can start to make this work in your favor. For example, when I say something mean to another driver or something, I hear myself say it, I get angrier.

I'm so justified. But what if I say something kind to somebody? It's weird because your feelings will follow that. Even if you don't necessarily feel it, you say something kind. A gentle answer turns away wrath. Not just the wrath from the other person. It turns away my wrath.

If I hear myself, let's say things are tense between me and my wife or whatever, something just happened, and I say something kind to her, my own heart starts to melt as I'm saying it. Try it. No one's ever said that. I know.

I'm just mind blown. That is a beautiful understanding of Proverbs 15.1. We love that passage, but we always think it's going to affect the other person to be more gentle. But you're saying your own hearts. It will because of your own, the way we're wired to believe ourselves. When you serve another person, this is why Jesus is, he's not like, wait till you feel it. Wait till you feel like serving somebody. He doesn't say that.

When you're in the process of doing it, it changes your heart. This is TMI, but you guys are good with this. I don't like looking at people's feet, even my own. I just have to wash them every day. I don't want to think about it.

That's just me. That's a weird thing, but whenever they would do foot washing ceremonies at a church camp or something. That would be uncomfortable for you.

Please no. Well, I remember being on a trip in Central America and there was this guy that would come. He was a popsicle guy every day. He would come by the camp that we were at or whatever. Anyway, later in the week, he would just shuffle off down the street. Later in the week, they had to get in circles, everybody in a circle, and suddenly they're like, okay, we're going to wash each other's feet. The popsicle guy was there. He was filthy, but he was a guy's feet I had to wash. As I'm doing it, I'm thinking about what is his family? What are his hopes and dreams in the world? What does he know about the guy? He's just being silent.

I don't speak Spanish very well, so we weren't talking. But it's wild in the process. My heart, which was I didn't think about popsicle guy, but the act of actually serving him, my heart is changing. I have to watch what I say and do my attitudes because they influence me. But it can go the other direction, where if you actually do something nice for your spouse when you're frustrated, your own heart will soften.

Maybe even more than your spouse's in the moment. But I just think it's a really interesting human thing. Again, everything Jesus is telling us makes our own lives go better. Forgiving people, for instance, makes your own life go better. You do it whether they want to be forgiven or not. And they may not even receive it. They may not.

It doesn't really matter. It's going to change you. I know what you just said. I thought of 1 Peter 3.9, where Peter writes, When you're insulted, don't insult back, but give a blessing.

Yes. And you just did to the popsicle. When I read that in your book, I teared up, dude. It's just a simple story, but you can visually see you doing that, but your heart being changed. So this is something you can practice to turn your heart towards people. You're like, well, I don't feel like loving my enemy. It doesn't matter.

Do it anyway. And you can even do that when you pray for your enemies. That alone is enough of a service when you're actually saying, you picture that person in your mind that drives you crazy or somebody who you feel like is out to get you. And you're praying, God, please give this person peace. That's a great thing to pray for an enemy too, because usually they're not at peace and that's why they're driving you crazy. But please, I know she's this way. I know she's done that.

Maybe it's a family member. But the act of praying, you hear yourself saying it and your own heart starts to change. So it's weird. It goes both directions. We're so self-justifying that we can justify our anger, the horrible things we do. You can justify anything. Humans can justify genocide. Yeah.

They've done it. I quoted the guys from Cambodia that came back decades later. They killed millions of people.

And they're like, don't judge us. You weren't there at the time. You killed millions of innocent civilians, women and children. Well, but you can't judge me at the time. They justified it.

We can justify anything. So the key is, I'm not the judge, God is. But I'm going to instead serve, say things that are actually going to bless people and watch my own heart change so I can grow up.

I mean, this can change the atmosphere of our entire homes, our communities, our schools. I'm just thinking as a wife, I'm thinking back when we were struggling the first few years of our marriage. I mean, I'm not guarding my thoughts. I'm not guarding my tongue. I'm saying everything that comes into my mind, I'm saying it.

And it's lethal, the things that I'm saying. And you're saying it's taking every thought captive. As I got older, I thought it's not doing me any good to keep on this route of my thought pattern. It's destroying my marriage because inevitably what I'm thinking about, I will eventually say. And if I'm thinking about it, it's destroying my life and Dave's life and our kids' lives. And so you're saying by saying, I may not feel it, but by saying it and even thinking it, it can change us.

It goes to complete, it'll get all your intellectual machinery, all your emotional machinery going the other direction. That's remarkable. It is, but Jesus is so genius. And again, it's for us. So we think, well, maybe I'll forgive this person for their own good.

No, no, no. It's for you. I was telling Dave, I was on Good Morning America recently. One of the things, I was talking about forgiveness.

And one of the things, the anchor. Yeah, listen to this. Yeah, he's like, yeah, but it's so hard to forgive. And so my response to him was like, it's one of those times like, thank you, Lord. I think that was the right thing to say.

Sometimes we're like, why did I say that? But it's like, yeah, it's so hard to forgive. I'm like, it is, but you know what's harder? Living a life of unforgiveness. That's a horrible burden to bear. Going around, well, I'm going to prove my point. I'm going to be justified. I'm going to teach everybody lessons. This is a heavy thing to be attached to. Anger.

Right. Follow my way of living. Work with me. Yoke yourself with me. I'll give you a lighter load.

It's going to be better. Well, it's interesting, you know, what we talked about yesterday, which is the first part of your book, is I think one of the reasons we hold on to our bitterness and anger is we think I'm better than them. The person that I'm going to forgive, I'm better than them. They shouldn't have hurt me.

I'm not going to do this because they don't deserve it. And we say I'm right and they're wrong. Well, if you catch your own language when you're like, I just need to vent. What you're doing, honestly, most of the time, is not actually helpful at all.

It's a cheerleading session for your own ego. It's just about why I'm right. Wait, so we think it's healthy to just vent. No, you're whipping yourself into a frenzy. Again, when you hear yourself saying all this stuff— The more you believe it is what you said earlier. Yeah, so if I'm blessing my enemies, again, it's all going the other direction. I'm hearing myself say this other stuff, and then I'm growing up because I'm actually obeying the things that Jesus commanded us to do, like pray for your enemies.

But again, it's not just for our enemies. It's for us because he knows it's going to set us free and we'll have a better life, better relationships. This is a better way to live. He's really brilliant. But sometimes people lose the whole following Jesus thing and all the other religious language.

It's like, no, if you actually do the stuff he says, it's a wonderful way to live. Okay, so let's say your kids come home from school. You have two kids. You guys have been married.

You have two kids. They come home through school, and they just need to tell you what happened at school. They're so mad.

It was so wrong. And they say, I just need to vent about this. Is that a good thing? Well, I mean, communication with parents is a wonderful thing. I think I would want to understand. And hear it all.

And hear it all and then offer some insight if I could. But I'm not going to do that to them because I want them to learn what it's like to be somebody who wants to bless his enemies. So you're going to live a different example in front of them?

Yeah, and they will remember that. The other thing, we talked about this a little bit, just saying I'm sorry as a dad, like not having to defend or justify all your goodness. I'm a good guy. Everything I do is right.

No, no, I'm sorry. Your kids will remember that forever. My dad says he's sorry. They'll think you're actually a real deal and it's not a religious façade. That's the thing that will cut through to a heart, right? As a dad, Santa didn't handle that very well. I've got a friend who's a brilliant doctor, very successful, got a bunch of kids.

He's got a very strong personality. And he has gotten so good at sitting down with his daughters or his son and going, I did not treat you well today. What I said was in the wrong tone. I was too harsh. And I want to tell you I'm sorry.

Like, dude, that's a masterclass. That's how you do it. Your kids will always know that you were genuine.

Be like, that's not the father I want to be. I want to be more like, I want you to know you're safe with me. So I'm going to do better. I mean, and when I hear you say that, I think, Brent, it's also one of the most attractive qualities that anybody can possess. When somebody is humble and admitting wrong, rather than everything we've been saying, that I'm better than you. I'm not as bad as you say I am. Defending our position.

That is repelling. But when somebody is humbly wrong, saying I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said, I shouldn't have done, you're drawn. I mean, it's the best thing you could ever do for a relationship is admit. And I think people know that, but it's so difficult for people to humble themselves to do it. Again, this is why repentance is such a rare thing because you're rethinking. And the rethinking is, wait a second, I'm not good. I don't have to defend my goodness.

Only God is good. Now that said, He loves me. I'm incredibly valuable to Him and all that, but my thinking is not His thinking. I have desires for things that will kill me if I indulge them.

It will cost me everything. So rather than me trusting myself, why don't I trust in Him? Let Him guide each day, day to day. And I can be desperate for Him because I know I need Him.

I know I need Him. We're so full of cognitive biases. Again, it's 100, 300 different biases they've cataloged in different ways. These are secular cognitive scientists about how deluded humans are. Most of them are self-righteous biases, including we're biased towards people's names, all other things being equal.

Like this person, if they're in first initial, starts with the same as our first initial. Really? Yeah. It's down to that kind of silliness.

It's ridiculous. But anything that's kind of smacks of us, me, my side, is better. If we're proven right, we literally get addicted to being right, which is why scrolling through news and stuff that affirms what I already think is so addicting because we actually get a dopamine hit. So that's what you get addicted to with anything. You're actually addicted to the dopamine hit.

You get a rush of, I'm right. Look at these horrible people. That shows it again.

Look at them behaving horribly. Once again, I'm right. So we'd love to have that reinforcement.

It's like a dopamine drip to us. And it's because of this self-righteous streak that we have, which Jesus is trying to smash through. I'm thinking, as you say that, I'm thinking of the leaders, the spiritual leaders that I have known of what's drawn me to certain leaders. The first one that came to my mind was Bill Bright, the president of Campus Crusade or CREW. And I remember thinking, I remember bringing this auditorium of staff.

It's filled, Moby Jim in Colorado. Oh, several thousand. And he started the ministry. And I remember like, man, look what he's done for God. And he stood up at that podium and he said, I am the chief of sinners. I am the bondservant of Jesus.

I am nothing apart from him. And I'm like, what? Like, what in the world? Look at the power.

Look at the... And I remember thinking, that's what I want. That piece of him that's like, I can do nothing apart from him. There was such a humbleness. And I'm thinking of Mother Teresa. Like, think about this tiny little woman. And she's impacted so many by her humble dependence on the Savior.

And then she's married to this guy sitting beside her thinking, I'm better than both those people. I mean, I'm kidding, but there's a part in us that is self-deluded. And we have that righteousness. When you said about the social scientists studying all these biases, I'm like, isn't it interesting when social science confirms everything Jesus said?

Absolutely. He said the same thing, and now there's proof to go he's right. No one has ever commented on the human condition as insightfully as Jesus.

Nobody. He's so brilliant. And the fact that they're confirming and affirming all of the stuff he's saying about the human condition, like we were like, don't tell me we're wrong. Don't tell me there's such a thing as sin. Don't tell me. Yes, look how deluded we are. Look at it.

And the other, that's something I do talk about in the book too, this idea that we're basically pretty good. I mean, we can't stay together even. The Beatles sang about all you need is love and give peace a chance. They're screaming at each other. You know, they couldn't make it for nine years.

Yeah, they didn't even make it a decade. No. So it's like the first cave drawings that we have are of humans killing each other. Wow. Actually fighting each other. It predates nation states, capitalism, communism, whatever, all the other debates of the day.

Humans have a problem. I remember talking to my dad. I didn't grow up in a Christian home. And so when I gave my life to Jesus, I'm like, oh, I need to tell my whole family. So I remember talking to my dad and I love him.

He's an amazing man, self-made man. And I remember saying to him, cheering the gospel. And he said, aunt, I really don't need it. And I said, dad, we all need Jesus because we're all sinners.

He goes, but I'm not. I'm like, dad, you know, my mind is blown. Dave was with me like, dad, like you're saying that you're perfect. He said, I'm pretty darn close. I'm like, what is happening?

I'm like, mom, come in here. And that's something. And it's funny too, because everybody actually does believe in sin. Everybody knows the world's messed up.

But they're better. Yeah, but not me, but you guys. But what I learned from a Bible project video, which I thought was so helpful, in the Hebrew, the word is khatta, so K-H-A-T-A for sin. And it means a failure to love God and the people made in his image in a way that honors his image. Well, if you're thinking, well, I've never done this, this other thing or that, you know, when have you failed to love God properly? When have you failed to love other people in a way that honors the fact that they're made in his image? You never fail in that.

I fail every day at that. It's not a matter of keeping score. We don't have to. That's the beautiful thing about it. It's not even about me. That's the final analysis.

Not even about my moral score anymore. That's what's so beautiful about it. So beautiful. It takes off the burden.

Yes. And now let me enjoy this way of life where I'm actually blessing my enemies, praying for the guy that just cut me off. Like, that's a difficult thing to do.

Well, it's interesting, Brad. I've done this a couple times in 30 years of preaching. I bet I've done this, and I've mentioned it here before, so I'll say it real quick, but I bet I've done this 10 times in different churches. Often every three or four years in my own church, I've said, hey, let's do an experiment. I'm going to be talking about sin or something that day.

I said, I want to do an experiment. Everybody stand up. So the whole kind of thing is 1,000 people. Let's say 1,000.

They stand up. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to read the Ten Commandments out of Exodus 20. When I read a commandment that you've broken, sit down. Let's just see how this goes and who's left.

You know, first commandment, I will have no other gods before me. And, you know, I know everybody in the room should be down right now. Right, right, right. And it's so interesting.

Like, a little trickle will go down. And I don't say anything, but it's like, okay, number two. You know, and usually when I get to take the Lord's name in vain, number three, most of the room goes down, but I'm not kidding. Every time I've done it, I'm at five or six, and there's 20 people standing up. And I'm like, oh my goodness.

I remember one time I did it, and a friend of mine, this woman, she was married to one of my buddies, her mom's still standing at eight, the only woman out of 1,000 people. And she yells at her mom, Mom, sit down! This is embarrassing. You should have been down at number one. And she's like, what are you talking about?

And they go down. But again, it's like this, it's this delusion we all have. If we understood what you just said, which is commandment number one, then I would love him and nobody else, and I would love all men in his image.

Never put anything else in front of him. We wouldn't make it past the first syllable, the first word of commandment one, but we're deluded. No, we are deluded. And it's so, we're finally freed up to love, and we stop deluding ourselves to, because that allows you, like you can look at, like there's a Twitter account that shows crazy people on TikTok. Well, you can watch each one of those videos. It's political. There's a lot of evil stuff going on. It's people in their own words talking about stuff that's horrible.

And you can look at each one and get really angry about it. But I'm like, but that's a person. And I'm saying it's still evil, maybe what they're doing, but what's their background? Yeah, what's the story? What's the story? And if I was from that background, would I be so righteous?

Or is there a story there where they didn't have some of the things that I was able to have? Or they went through abuse that I, a particular kind of abuse that I didn't go through, or so instead of getting everybody's spiritual temperature, instead of testing mine all the time, just give that whole thing up. And actually you're free now to love people and you're actually free to like them too, which as we discussed, the only thing that actually changes people's relationship, that's it. Not me wagging my finger, telling them they're disgusting, a 19-year-old that's living in this lifestyle or acting out. That should change the scope of evangelism right there. Right, so they're in this culture.

I love them. What has this culture done to this person? I feel for this person. I'm sorry for what this culture has done. Instead of getting antagonized by everybody, like, look, it's a shipwreck.

It's a shipwreck. I'm no better than anybody else, but we have to love people in this. And the only thing that changes them as a relationship is not me making my awesome arguments. It really isn't. Yeah, and that applies to your marriage.

Yes. If you want to see change in your spouse, in yourself, love them. Stop pointing the finger and critiquing. It starts with you.

Being humble and catching myself and my tone and my attitude and my body language and saying, oh, I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean that. Man, my wife loves that. She just loves it. We all love it.

Yes. We all love to hear that. I think that'd be a great application at the dinner table with a wife, with kids, with whatever, whoever you're with, just saying, I feel like I haven't led by a great example of just apologizing and telling you guys, like, I blow it so often, and I'm sorry. I love you guys, and I need Jesus.

I think that would be helpful. Well, if you listen to this too, and you're thinking, well, I don't do that. I feel really bad.

No, no, no, opportunity. Yeah, that's good. Yeah, I'm still changing in our marriage 32 years. It's getting better. Yeah. We're still learning to get better.

We're making some strides, even lately. So, no, it's not a guilt trip. It's about opportunity for the tone I can set from here on out.

If it is a change in tenor for your home, you got kids in the house, your kids will remember the time that you repented and be like, this is real. Like, that's really cool. We all respect that.

This is going to help us when we're driving together. You just had to end with that. No, I meant me, not you. Oh, whatever. You meant me, and we know it.

No, I didn't. Hi, I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Brant Hansen on Family Life Today. Well, Brant Hansen has written a book called The Truth About Us, The Very Good News About How Very Bad We Are.

What a magnificent title. Helps us to know our place and know how great God is at the same time. His book is our gift to you when you give any amount to family life. You can go online to, or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Now, that donation can be a one-time gift, or you could actually make it a recurring monthly gift. Regardless, we'd love to send you the book when you give. Again, the number is 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Now, according to statistics, 92% of people are able to do the verbal and kind of posturing gymnastics to say that they're morally better than most other people. I know I do that.

Do you do that? Well, join us tomorrow because David Ann Wilson will be back again with Brant Hansen to talk about that among many other things to help us rethink and humble ourself before God. That's tomorrow. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. . Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships and relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-11 07:16:32 / 2023-04-11 07:29:34 / 13

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