Saturday, February 11, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Matthew 14-16
After reading Matthew 14:1-12, I suppose some secular psychologists might diagnose “Herod the tetrarch” (14:1-2) as “Paranoid Schizophrenic”! Herod’s alarm that Jesus was John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded raised from the dead, struck fear in the heart of the wicked king. Rather than a mental illness, the guilt of knowing he had murdered an innocent man, a prophet of God, haunted Herod. Refusing to confess his sin and wickedness, fear troubled Herod (Proverbs 29:25).
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines psychology as “the science of mind and behavior”. I disagree with that definition because psychology and psychiatry (the treatment of mental illness) is more about presuppositions than a systemized, tested, and verifiable science. More than a science of the mind and behavior, the nature of psychology is by definition a study of the human soul (psyche’). I know many might disagree, but I believe much that psychologists and psychiatrists label as mental disorders or mental illness is nothing more than the old-fashioned consequences of sin and guilt!
For instance, “bipolar” is a diagnosis psychologists ascribe to someone who experiences manic depression characterized by emotional mood swings running from elation to depression; from energy and drive to hopelessness and sluggishness. Interestingly, the author of James writes of similar symptoms when he observes, “A double minded [lit. “two souled”; unstable] man is unstable [restless; unruly; unrestrained; fickle] in all his ways [journey; path of life]” (James 1:8).
What remedy did James suggest for the “double minded” in his day?
James 4:7-10 – “Submit yourselves [Be subordinate; be in subjection] therefore to God. Resist [oppose; withstand] the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh [approach; come close] to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [purify; acknowledge your sin] your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded [lit. “two souled”; unstable].
9 Be afflicted [acknowledge your misery; grieve], and mourn [grieve; wail], and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves [set aside your pride; be abased] in the sight [in the presence] of the Lord, and he shall lift you up [exalt you].”
Are you plagued by depression, anxiety, and forlorn feelings of guilt? I suggest you try James 4:7-10 as your spiritual prescription!
My friend, you might find temporal solace in the diagnosis of secular psychologists and psychiatrists and enjoy an elation when you are given a prescription; however, if the root problem is sin, there is only one answer: “Submit…resist the temptations of the devil; come close to God, acknowledge your sins, and let the tears of mourning pave the way to God’s forgiveness.”
What about Herod? According to Luke 9:9, he longed to see Jesus and the miracles He performed. Herod was delighted to see the miracle worker of Galilee when Jesus stood before him (Luke 23:8). Jesus, however, had no desire to entertain or show compassion to the man who had ruthlessly and wickedly murdered John the Baptist. We read of Jesus, “He answered him [Herod] nothing” (Luke 23:9). Angered by the affront, Herod joined his soldiers mocking Jesus and sent him away to be condemned to die (Luke 23:11-12). You see, for Herod, all was lost.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith