Until I did a posting in psychiatry, I didn’t realize how weighty the word insight could be. When people use the word “insight,” they usually mean a deeper understanding of a complicated problem or situation. In psychiatry, the meaning is a bit different: the problem that requires a deeper understanding is your own mind, and not some external situation.

“Insight” is important in psychiatry because it goes a long way in determining whether the person undergoing treatment is fit for discharge or not.

This matter of insight (looking at the word in the light of psychiatry) is one Jesus clashed with the Pharisees over and over again. At a point (Matthew 15:8), Jesus denounced them as people who only worshipped God with their mouths, and not their hearts. And in that instance, He quoted from Isaiah.

“Therefore the Lord said: inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but have removed their hearts from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the commandment of men.”

(Isaiah 29:13, NKJV)

It hits different when you’re shaded from a resource material you’re too familiar with. The Pharisees were very conversant with the Law and Prophets, so they grasped the import, perhaps more than the average Jew, of what Jesus was saying to them. The Pharisees weren’t only conversant with the law; they followed it to the letter. Therefore, it must have been double indignation for them as they probably didn’t understand why Jesus would say such a thing to them.

However, Jesus was trying to point out to them how their hard-heartedness had made them emphasize on the minor things to detriment of the major, thus shifting their attention from what was truly important: a true reverence to and honor for God. Everything the Pharisees said and did in front of others was apparently godly, but they did not do these things to please God; the focus was on the optics.

The Pharisees may genuinely not have known that their focus had shifted. They may have actually thought that they were doing the right thing, that they were serving God in all they did (an example is Apostle Paul before his conversion). But, in retrospect, we know that they lacked insight.

Do you have insight? It’s easy to preach to others and be involved in every church project. But where is your focus? Where is your heart? Are your actions in the open congruent with your deeds in the secret? It’s easy to get carried away with the lights and plaudits. That’s why it’s important to subject your mind to the scrutiny and leading of the Holy Spirit.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”

(Psalm 139:23-24, KJV)

This prayer is such an important one. God’s Spirit in us is there to help us live the God kind of life: “the way everlasting.” In times when there might be so many physical distractions around, this prayer opens up our minds and heart to the gentle correction of the Spirit, and a prodding back into the straight and narrow way of love and faith.

“Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers… “

(1 Corinthians 13:5a, AMP)

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

(Hebrews 3:13, NIV)

In the event that we aren’t able to hear from God because we’re so caught up in ourselves, the body of Christ that surrounds you is another way God helps His children remain insightful. Don’t make the mistake of isolating yourself from the gathering of the brethren. It’s a tool for preservation.

Finally brethren, stay insightful.


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