Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – PAUL’S GODLY ANXIETY


Read PHILIPPIANS 2:25–30

The Greek verb for “worry,” merimnaó, can have either a negative or a positive meaning. The negative meaning is the one most often translated in English, “to be anxious or distracted, troubled with cares.” In some contexts, though, it can have a more positive meaning, “to care for, provide for, or look out for.” In that case, the Greek word is often translated “care” or “concern.”

This sort of “anxiety” is what the apostle Paul meant in today’s reading (v. 28; cf. 2 Cor. 11:28). Though this month we’re mainly focusing on worry as a sin—and indeed, that is how Scripture mostly uses the term—we should also examine this alternative meaning. There is such a thing as appropriate care or concern, which doesn’t become an obsession or an idol. This godly example from Paul helps us to see concern that doesn’t cross the line into worry. This concern is felt while still expressing faith in God.

As an emissary from the church at Philippi, Epaphroditus had visited the apostle Paul in Rome, where he was under house arrest (v. 25; 4:18). While there, Epaphroditus had fallen ill and nearly died (vv, 27, 30). He felt homesick and emotionally distressed because his illness had alarmed the Philippians (v. 26). Feeling similarly, Paul looked forward to sending Epaphroditus safely back home (v. 28). The believers there should welcome and honor him as having “almost died for the work of Christ” (vv. 29–30).

What made Paul’s “anxiety” in this case legitimate and even godly? First, the illness occurred while Epaphroditus was doing the work of Christ, not self-centered pursuits. The risk had been worth it. And second, Paul acknowledged the situation had been in God’s hands all along, saying, “God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me” (v. 27).


Have you thought your anxiety was justified, but in fact it demonstrated a lack of faith? On the other hand, have you thought your anxiety was sinful because someone told you Christians should always feel happy? Invite the Holy Spirit to assess your cares and concerns through the lens of Paul’s example in Scripture.

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