In the book of Philippians, Paul talks about anxiety, commanding in 4:6 not to be anxious about
anything. Yet not long before in 2:28, he talks about him having less anxiety. Isn't this a bit of a contradiction? Or is anxiety permissible in some situations?
Good question… It’s not that anxiety is not permissible, but it’s not beneficial. In the Philippians 4:6 passage, Paul says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
The word translated “anxious” from the Greek is “merimnate” (merimnate). This is the same word Jesus uses in Matthew 6:25-33. This Greek term is defined in the following ways:
1. be anxious about
3. have anxiety
4. be concerned
Paul’s words to the church at Philippi are wise… “Do not be anxious about anything…”, but that does not prevent people from being anxious or from worrying about certain things from time to time. However, worry and anxiety never help the situation, but cause more distress in the life of the one who is experiencing the worry or anxiety. In Philippians 4:6, Paul is making a similar case as Jesus does in Matthew 6:25-33. What is better
than worry and anxiety? Trusting in God. Let your trust in Him dispel the worries and anxieties of this life. Like Jesus said, “worrying will not add a single hour to your life”… in my own opinion, I think too much worry and anxiety may possibly take away an hour or more from your life.
So in Philippians 2:28, Paul says: “Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.” Here he is talking about sending a dear friend and servant back to the church at Philippi. The church had heard that Epaphroditus had been very ill and perhaps had died due to this severe illness. Paul is attempting to relieve the worry, anxiety and sadness that the Philippian church was enduring… in the meanwhile, Paul’s own worry/concern for the church was weighing on him personally and he knew that the news about Epaphroditus will relieve the church in Philippi, thus relieving his own concern for the worry the church was experiencing.
One key to Bible study is always remember… context, context, context. It is easy to get stuck on a verse or even a word in a verse and try to understand that individual verse/word without examining the context in which that verse/word is found. I too, used to do this years ago. Now, when someone comes to me with a question about an individual verse/word, I encourage them to start reading at least 5 verses before through 5 verses after that one verse/word. This allows you to see the bigger picture to why that verse/word was used. Sometimes you have to read even further back and forward… but it is important to understand the whole context of any passage.
We all wrestle with worry and anxiety from time to time about big or small stuff. I pray that you will take a look at whatever circumstance you are dealing with and surrender it to God. Try not to allow yourself to be overwhelmed with worry and anxiety. I promise you, God is bigger than any problem or issue you may be
facing. He desires that you seek Him first and not be bogged down with the worries that can come from this
life. He will certainly see you through it because He is faithful all the time.
Remember, I’m praying for you, we’re all in this together.