Is Pride Really a Deadly Sin? | Therapy & Theology

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Is Pride Really a Deadly Sin? | Therapy & Theology

Pride is probably a word most of us could give a quick definition for. It’s easy to spot in other people, but how can we operate in self-awareness to know how pride is surfacing in our own lives? And what are the costs of letting pride go unattended?

In this special bonus episode, Lysa, Jim and Joel discuss the layers of pride, revealing its subtle yet profound impact on our relationships with others, God and even ourselves.

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Circle 31 Book Club is not your average book club. The books we select will challenge you to think, ask hard questions and grow so you can move forward in the areas you feel stuck in. Join the Circle today for free, and get ready to read Dr. Joel Muddamalle’s book The Hidden Peace starting July 1, 2024.

Grab your copy of Dr. Joel Muddamalle’s new book, The Hidden Peace: Finding True Security, Strength, and Confidence Through Humility, today! Stay connected with Lysa TerKeurst, Jim Cress and Dr. Joel Muddamalle on Instagram.

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Welcome to Therapy and Theology. I’m Lisa Turcurs with Jim Kress and doctor Joel Munamale.
You know, sometimes when we’re sitting around doing these therapy and theology recordings, we often have some of our best conversations after the cameras stop We do.
And then
we’re like, wait a minute. We should really talk about that.
So this is where this episode came from. Yeah.
And I’m really excited because you have written a book, The Hidden Peace, which I think you’re gonna dive into a little bit, but really addressing the issue of pride and, um, and our need for humility.
But sometimes we just get it wrong. Yeah.
You know, I don’t think anybody ever wakes up in their life and goes, you know what?
Today, I think I’m gonna make some choices that will just completely blow up my life and destroy my family.
I just don’t know that we have that thought. So where does it really start, Joel?
Yeah. You know, I the place that, Lisa, you, I, and Jim, I feel like we always go to is what?
The story of the Garden of Eden. Eden. Right?
And sometimes I wonder, did like, that morning that Eve wakes up, and I guess we’re assuming that it’s morning, but when she wakes up, is she like, today is the day?
Today is the day
I want to blow this thing up.
That I’m going to, you know, with Adam right next to me, I’m gonna be like, yes.
Today, we’re gonna fall into the deception of, um, of the serpent and and and his idea that he like, I don’t think that’s what happened.
And so in the same way, I think one of the really challenges, the challenging things that we have today, is a concept that we, like, conceptually we know is a bad thing.
Right? Like, we’re like, oh, yeah.
Pride is probably not something that we should pursue and cultivate in our lives, and yet it’s also incredibly alluring.
Mhmm. You know? There’s something about it that exalts ourselves and makes us happy. And the
thing that
fascinates me about fascinates me about the story of the Garden of Eden is that, um, the serpent steps in and presents a curious thought to Eve.
And when he presents that curious thought to Eve, Eve actually has an opportunity there to exercise curiosity, Right?
But within the context of limits. Because God had already given her, and Adam, the limitations.
Do all this, but don’t do this.
And so the question is, at the core of it, why does she entertain this conversation?
Why does she keep in dialogue? Why does she then invite Adam into it?
And at the core underneath all of this is the presence of what I’ve often referred to as hidden pride.
You know? And hidden pride is so so scary because hidden pride often presents itself as something very beautiful, but on the inside, it’s actually corrupt.
Mhmm. Yeah.
I think it this is the tricky thing about pride is that often, if you’re struggling with pride, you don’t know it.
Yeah. Or even worse, you’ll say, I’m not pride. No.
That’s not it.
You know? And so it’s when you talk about hidden pride, I’m like, okay, then how are we supposed to know?
Like, what if I’m secretly really struggling with pride? What if I’ve got all this hidden pride in my life?
Like, what do I need to do about it? And how do I recognize it?
Yeah. Absolutely. Okay. Let’s do a little bit of a thought thought exercise
and experiment.
Okay? Um, have you guys heard of this phrase, the 7 deadly sins?
Yes. Right?
Okay. I’m putting you a little bit on the spot. Uh, what are the 7 deadly sins?
Okay. That’s Lust.
Yep. Pride of life.
Or just pride. Pride.
Pride. Yep. That’s one of them. Yep.
So. Okay.
There’s greed. There’s sloth. Yep. There’s wrath. There’s envy. Right? Um, but here’s the interesting thing.
If you inverted each of these, you would actually find on we talked about the, uh, spectrum, right, of severity.
That at the at the core of each of these is actually something that could be beautiful. Right?
So, like, lust is what? Desire.
Or, like, being attracted to the one person that God intends for you to have as your husband or your wife.
Right. Right. And then so if you have somebody, Jim, that into a counseling session and goes, well, I’m struggling with lust.
What’s your response to that?
I you want the truth?
Oh, yeah.
I take them to the Greek, epithumia, which is an empty cup. It’s something empty.
Temptation feels the emptiness of the cup. Lust tries to fill the emptiness of the cup.
I need to let them see that and say, oh, yeah, what’s the emptiness?
And they think their emptiness is their enemy, and I say, no, your emptiness is not the enemy.
Your demand to fill the emptiness apart from God’s ways, that is the enemy.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, this is what pride is consistently doing to us.
Pride is suggesting to us that the good thing that God has for us can actually become the ultimate thing.
And when that thing becomes the ultimate thing, it actually becomes an idolatrous thing. Mhmm. So look at lust. Okay.
I wanna go back to that. There’s something beautiful that God created of men and women. Mhmm. Right? Sure.
And there’s one thing to be like, oh, yeah. He’s handsome, or or, yeah, she’s beautiful.
But pride moves you from this place of, oh, there’s beauty to a place of obsession.
And objectification. Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. You’re just an object.
Right. Listen to me. For me to devour. Yeah. Gluttony. Mhmm. Food. Food is a great thing. Mhmm. Right?
Like, I enjoy good food.
We know that about you, Joel. Do you really? Yeah. You have to enjoy bad
food sometimes. But you guys will all be happy.
God made us to consume food. He did not make food to consume us.
Okay. So I literally you guys, this is so so wild. I hired a nutritionist.
You guys don’t even know this. Wow. I don’t even know this. You look
at marvelous over there.
Yep. I hired a nutritionist about over a month ago, and we had a 2 hour long conversation.
It was one of the most brilliant conversations I’ve ever had, because I’ve always felt like I either do my workout really well, and I’m horrible with my food, or I do my food really well, and I’m horrible with my, like, working out.
And food has always been, like, the kryptonite for me. You can’t have a bad diet. Right. Yeah. Yeah.
And and what my nutritionist said is actually so fascinating.
He goes, Joel, your fundamental relationship with how you relate to food has to change.
That’s that’s bottom line.
Right? Like, I come to food actually for a source of um, emotional, physical, and in a way, spiritual satisfaction.
And so food actually has a hold over me, versus my relationship with food is actually, no.
There’s it’s giving me health. There’s nutrition to it. And it’s a total different category.
And so these types of things that I think, like and we can move on. Greed. You know?
Um, having financial stability is a good thing. Right?
But when financial stability becomes the ultimate thing in your life, and now you move from that into becoming obsessive of gaining wrath and all these things.
There’s something about actually justice that we should desire. Justice is a good thing.
But when you go from justice to revenge or justice to wrath, these are all detrimental things.
And so going earlier to our conversation on how you started, Lisa, nobody ever wakes up, I don’t think, one day.
Like you just said and says I’m gonna, But what they do, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and just like this big question that we have to, um, just process ourselves is, what is the curious thought that we’re entertaining in our lives?
That if we cultivate that, if we allowed that thing to flourish, it’s actually gonna become incredibly deceptive and, um, and destructive things in our lives.
Uh, Jim, I found a really fascinating Greek word, And I know you love Greek. It’s narkeo.
Narkeo. And what narkeo, we can probably hear the root of that from.
Well, either narcotic or narcissism.
And both apply in this situation. Narcoa this is so fascinating.
Narcoa actually has to do with growing numb over a period of time. Wow.
Growing numb over a period of time.
What pride, I think, is doing to us, it’s actually inviting us into a type of numb life, and it’s happening over a period of time.
Um, and so Joel,
it makes me think of this verse. I I can’t remember. It might be in Micah
Where it says, oh, man, what does God require?
Micah 6:8. Yep.
Um, and it says to act justly to,
uh Love mercy.
Love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
And I think walking humbly with our God is a really important thing here.
Yeah. Absolutely. Um, and that it’s the the humility piece that that actually brings out the love and the justice and the mercy.
Um, so we’ve kind of identified what is pride doing.
Pride is promising us clarity, and it’s leading us into chaos and confusion. What is the gift of humility?
The gift of humility is actually the gift of self awareness, where we can actually see ourself rightly, that we can be rightly ordered.
There’s a a famous, uh, quote in saying, uh, it’s historically attributed to CS Lewis.
Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less often. Just a side note, y’all.
Always dangerous to disagree with CS Lewis. So I’m not gonna disagree with Lewis, but I’m gonna suggest this.
I actually don’t think biblical humility starts with the self. Biblical humility, 1st and foremost, starts with God.
I like that.
And so if I can know who God is, then I can know who I am.
And if I know who God is, and I know who I am made in the likeness and image of God, then I can know how I ought to rightly relate to other people who are made in the likeness and image of God.
And notice what happens here. 1st, I have peace with God.
Mhmm. Now
if I have peace with God, I’ve got peace internally.
And if I’ve got peace internally, I’m actually powerfully equipped to pursue peace with other people, and this is what humility is doing.
Humility is regaining for us the gift of self awareness.
I think one of the most peaceful places that I can ever put myself in is just on my face before the Lord.
And listening to praise songs and participating in praise songs and getting my face into God’s word, because when we’re when we know God’s word, we can better discern his will, but it requires that posture of humility, that posture of acknowledging our dependence on him, so the Lord wants us on our face before him.
And there’s 2 pathways to get there. I think it’s either the pathway of humiliation or the pathway of humility.
The only difference is one chooses to bow low while the other trips and falls there, but we both wind up on our face before the Lord.
And so I think the choice here is do we pursue humility and absolute dependence on God, which will give us the peace that passes all understanding, or do we go our own way and think, you know, yeah, good suggestions, God, but I’m really I’ve got it from here, you know, and we rise up in pride and put ourselves in that position where we’re striving so hard.
There’s no peace in that.
Yeah, exactly.
And where everything depends on us, no human heart was made to carry the weight of figuring out life on their own, and yet so many of us work our emotions into a tangled fray and our fingers to the bone trying to do just that.
Yeah. Exactly. I know, Jim, when I was working, um, and really researching and writing the hidden piece, one of the big questions that kept coming up was, is there ever an appropriate time to have pride?
And is humility always gonna leave me in a place of weakness and being subjugated, and people are gonna walk all over me.
Mhmm. I’m curious from a therapeutic standpoint, like, how should we be thinking about pride?
Is there any positive side to pride, or is it all just purely negative?
You know, you and I is a bit of a stretch, but you and I can meet for dinner, and then we can have meat at dinner.
Mhmm. Words are important. Right? I’m very proud of my grandchildren.
If they get a grade, they draw me a picture. Granddaddy, so proud of you.
My kids and their livelihood and business, and some good news comes which happened recently.
I was really proud of you. I like to say that I’m really proud of you.
And you know where I go?
God, at the baptism, and then at the Mount of Transfiguration, the ultimate father, this is my boy.
This is my son. That’s my boy there. That’s my boy. That’s my son, whom I love.
I’ll say in the entire world, I love my son and in who I am well pleased.
You see, that’s a stretch, but I could see, you know, that’s my son and I’m proud of him.
So there’s a level that I’m saying, I’m really proud of you. You know what?
When I do my work, we all do our work, I wanna say Lisa finishes a book, you finish a book, say, I’m really proud of myself.
I really did a good job. I want to take, listen, pride in my work.
I think that’s a good use of the word, and I, who did not write the future best selling book that you’ve written, seriously.
But inside, I’m aware of self awareness that is different than me taking that, like Lisa’s taught us here about the severity and the spectrum and all that, is to say, well, I’m so proud of my kids and sometimes, every now and then, not quite, I can get in the flesh and wanna Sharpie out the people that says my kid is on the honor roll at so and so to school.
I’m like, okay. And I can I don’t think that, but there’s a sense that I don’t know when the tipping point is?
Often, I know it for me. I’ll think that’s unhealthy pride.
Now you’re, like, bragging to everybody, look what your kids are doing or whatever else. I just want the awareness.
But there are times I’m even proud of me. I’ll say, Jimbo, you did a good job today.
You helped some people, but that’s not an unhealthy pride. May I ask a question, follow-up back with the author?
I’m big on with people about the action that I’m not worried about people being humble.
He’s a she’s a humble person. I see so much in the text, and people quote Philippians.
They start over they quote help me here in Peter.
Uh, casting all your cares on him and he cares on you, which is a participle while you’re doing the command, which is humble yourself.
Thou shall belong.
And what I see is that I work with people from a therapeutic side, which I’m a biblical counselor too, and saying, where are you bowing the knee?
Where are you humbling yourself versus I think I’m humble today? Yeah. But you’ve written the book on it.
How much action is in this idea that I’m humbling myself? I’m just not a humble person.
Yeah. No. That’s good. One of the more fascinating things about, um, this whole thing was actually an understanding of humanity’s natural state in creation.
Right? So think about this, that God so this is the word picture to think about.
God, the king of the cosmos, unbended knee, this is kind of how I envision it, comes down onto earth, bends down from the dust, from the ground, which is actually from the original root words where we get the word humility from and, um, from the Latin word as well in Hebrew, damma, damma.
But he he actually creates humanity. And then think about this. Fascinating. He breathes the breath of life Yeah.
Into Adam and Eve. He he creates them. He forms them.
And the text in Genesis 2 15 and 16, it says that then God lifts them.
He places them in Eden. Now the question is where is Eden? Eden is actually on a mountaintop.
So how do Adam and Eve get from the lowliness of the earth Wow.
To the heights of a mountaintop?
Nothing because of their own doing, but everything because of what God has done.
God has taken their humble status and their posture and has exalted them Wow. And lifted them up.
They’re passive participants. And so the the I think the beauty of it is the natural state of Adam and Eve in Eden was a posture of humility.
Humanity’s natural posture, the way that God has created us, is actually a posture of humility.
And so what pride is actually doing to us, it’s robbing us of our humanity.
The more that we practice pride and we and we step into that, it’s actually stripping us of our humanity.
When we practice humility, we’re actually regaining our humanity. We’re returning to the ideal of Eden.
Uh, Lis, one of the things that I think is so fascinating, um, um, about you, and I’m gonna say this, you won’t ever say this about yourself, is, uh, you’ve written 30 books.
Right? Um, multiple New York Times bestselling books.
I know the next book that you’re working on is a book on trust, and we’re so excited about that.
And yet you are and, Jim, I think you can agree with it, and, uh, everybody who’s in our room just recording right now would would say this about you.
You’re one of the most grounded people that I know.
What has been the thing in your life that has kept you grounded throughout what So many.
Other people would be like, wow. That is immense success. What has just kept you grounded in this process?
Um, well, thank you for your kind words.
I agree, but
This was not part of the script, so
was no. Thank you. Um, I would say from a spiritual standpoint, I think about this often.
What I think when we get to heaven, I think we’re going to be very surprised at what matters most.
I think what appears very big and important here on Earth is actually going to be pretty small in heaven.
And I think what appears maybe small here on earth could possibly be some of the most significant things in heaven.
I I picture one day, and I I hope that this conversation has happened between me and the Lord.
I hope I do hear, well done, good and faithful servant, but I don’t think it’s gonna be because of what I did. I I don’t think it’s gonna be because, you know, while we see you wrote a lot of books, you know, while you stood on some big stages, you know, I don’t I don’t think that’s gonna I think it’s gonna be more like, hey, remember that random Tuesday where you were in the grocery store, and you saw this mom, and she was by herself, maybe she was even a single mom, and her kids were just all around her, and other people were judging her because her kids were sort of losing it.
Mhmm. And and you could just see the weight of that situation on her. Mhmm.
And remember when you just walked up to her, and you said, hey, you are doing better than you think you are.
Bad moments don’t make bad moms, and remember when you did that, well done.
Like, well done.
So, you know, what keeps me grounded is that perspective from a spiritual standpoint, but, also, from an emotional standpoint, I I think it’s just very, very apparent that the spotlight never fixes anyone.
Wow. The spotlight only exposes all the issues you have for all the world to see, and so I think the minute I think, like, wow, I’m all that is the minute that I am exposing myself without the protective covering of God.
Mhmm. I don’t wanna do that.
I’m sorry. That’s beautiful. Thanks for, seriously, the lead into that.
That’s a this is a this is a powerful moment right here. Authentic. May may I ask a question?
I I don’t wanna I just you you always and so does Lisa. You encourage me to think.
You inspire I won’t say you make me think. You inspire me to think.
So if this is already stuff you’ve covered before, please be kind to an older man.
Um, early on, we got Adam and Eve, Adam and Eve. We hear all that.
I’m sitting here listening to both of you today and thinking, okay, one step past them, you know, the first grandchild murdered the second.
Can Abel
And I see per your book, per God’s truth, that Abel humbled himself and said if that’s what you want, God, I will do this.
I will give you of the flock.
Cain went in pride, same bid, same request, whatever, and Cain that quick on said, oh, no.
I’m doing it my way. I mean, we barely started.
I know Adam and Eve did it too, and they blame people. It’s the devil.
It’s that woman you gave me.
But early on right away, the first offspring, one do that.
This thing got off from the get go.
I mean, we know that, but it’s like to stop for a moment, see law, ponder, and go, from the get go.
We’ve had 2 paths we can take.
Absolutely. Um, Lisa, as I reflect on what you just said and what, uh, Jim said, I wrote down some notes, um, because you modeled it for us.
And, Jim, you just unpacked it even in the Kin and Abel story.
The first thing you said was thank you.
That’s beautiful. Right?
It was just such a simple acknowledgement.
It is.
Um, it’s not like, no, those those those big things aren’t true. It’s just, thank you.
And and when we acknowledge as a thank you, what we’re actually acknowledging is the goodness of god in our lives.
That is god’s kindness. That’s god’s Mhmm. Good pleasure. Right? So yeah.
And then the second thing that you did was you gave us insight into perspective, into true kingdom perspective, from the wisdom that comes from above, not from the wisdom that comes from below that actually wants to invert that perspective.
The Cain and Abel story that wants to invert and corrupt God’s good design and desire for us.
This is why I think that humility is the message, not just for today, but it’s been the message from yesterday and from the beginning of creation.
It’s gonna be the message from until Jesus comes back. This is why I’m so committed to this message.
It’s my life Mhmm. Because I really do believe that humility is a protection, a prevention, and a preservation. Wow.
You modeled it for us too, Elise. Humility protects us from thinking too low of ourselves.
Because if we think too low of ourselves, inevitably we’ll be walked all over.
But y’all, we are children of the king of the cosmos, made in his likeness and in his image.
Like, you, daughter, are a daughter of God, You son or a son of the king?
And I choke a little when I say this, but like, yeah, you can walk with just a little bit of swagger, Not because of who you are, but because of who dad is.
Yeah. Right? Humility is also prevention. Humility prevents us from thinking too much of ourselves.
Because if we think too much of ourselves, inevitably, we will be the ones who are walking all over other people.
And then lastly, and and you talked about it as you think about what is that conversation gonna be like?
And I think you’re gonna have that conversation.
What is that what is that moment, that holy humility moment that you get to exercise, that you’ve been practicing and cultivating on this side of eternity that’s gonna come to fruition with king Jesus himself.
What does that look like? I think humility is a preservation.
It preserves us in the faithful life of Christ.
And if you’re feeling unsafe, and if you feel like things are out of control, and if you feel like your weaknesses are are, um, liabilities in your life, friends, like, humility is such a gift because it places you in the safest place that we possibly could be, and that is in the faithful hands of Jesus.
And so I’m so grateful for the both of you having this conversation and and being vulnerable and sharing, um, on it, uh, because I really believe that humility is not just a checklist that we’re gonna check off and move on from.
Humility is in fact the very soil of the christian life that we live from. Mhmm.
Thank you, Joel.
Thank you, Joel.
Thank you, Jim.


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