I am almost breathless from what I dug out of the Scriptures this week. So much so that I feel I have to get it down and share it with someone as quick as possible because it is just that GOOD!
I am doing a long form word study on the word in the New Testament translated, “concerned.” And in the process I have found it necessary to do a word study on “worry.” In addition to learning about being Biblically concerned about others, I wanted to know what Jesus says about worry.
In the process of doing this word study on “worry/worrying,” I have come across yet another reason to see Jesus as the ultimate wordsmith and more confirmation that God is intentional about the words he uses when writing His Word – down to the very smallest details.
Bear with me as I give you the tiniest bit of background and context. I think you will know the passage I am referring to.
Two times in the New Testament, Jesus gives a discourse about worry and anxiety which each conclude with a similar phrase: “therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow” and “do not keep worrying.”
- The first time He said it was in Matthew 6, the Sermon on the Mount, where he points to the birds of the air, the lilies, and the grass of the field as examples of the Father’s concern for the smallest, seemingly insignificant creations in a lesser to greater argument to show His care for His final and most dear creation.
- The second time, in Luke 12: 22-31, He said something similar, and He pointed to the same examples, but the word he uses at the end for worrying is only used here.
The word used for “worrying” in Luke 12:29 in the Greek is meteorízo which is translated in the NASB, “worrying” and in the KJV “be of doubtful mind.” (In this case, I prefer the NASB because I think the KJV misses the interpretation of the word, where the NASB leaves it vague enough to point the Bible student to further study while maintaining the theme of the passage, worry)
The word meteorízo is where we get our English word for meteor and so the connection to what Jesus was talking about, worry, is not immediately clear. It means “in mid-air, raised on high” and “to lift up on high.” It was used in the Greek culture primarily of “putting a ship out to sea” or “of raising fortifications,” or of “the rising of the wind.” (Vines). But it is it’s usage in the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) that gives a greater understanding of how it was used in the Luke 12 passage. The word is found in the following passages:
- Micah 4:1 of the “exaltation of the Lord’s house”
- Ezekiel 10:16 of “the lifting of the wings of the cherubim”
- Obadiah 4 of the “mounting up of the eagle”
Other than the Septuagint passages, the word meteorízo is only used in the New Testament one time, here in Luke 12:29. And the rest of the Luke 12 passage uses a different Greek word which is translated in English, “anxious” to refer to worry.
Zodhiates defining the word meteorízo says it is used figuratively “of the mind, to animate, incite, also to cause to be hesitant, to fluctuate, make one’s faith waver as if blown about by wind.” In the New Testament, he tells us that it means “to be in suspense or of a doubtful mind, anxious, fluctuating between hope and fear.”
I had a hard time at first with all this context. I had a hard time taking what I had just learned about this word and keeping it all in mind when I went back to the passage in Luke 12. And then, the Holy Spirit reminded me: wings!
Do you see the references to wings?
In the Septuagint there are two references to wings (those of the cherubim and those of the eagle). In Luke 12 Jesus refers to birds two times in the context of worry and anxiety. And did you see the part that Zodhiates (this was in Vine’s, too!) that said fluctuating between hope and fear?
A picture came into my head of the flapping of wings (as of a bird taking off), going up and down.
And I thought that this how God sees it when we worry. That when our “wings” are up, we are moving toward hope (and faith). And when our “wings” are down, we are moving toward fear. And much of our lives are as the flapping of a birds wings, fluctuating between these two.
How does this knowledge affect me?
Well, Jesus here tells his disciples “do not keep worrying.” (Again, I prefer the NASB here because it captures the mood/tense of the verb) Here the verb is present imperative active with a negative; it is a command to stop doing something that is already taking place.
In this context, Jesus tells his disciples, “Quit your flapping.”
Which is comical because we are more than mere birds. We are His highest creation. We are His precious little flock. To whom He has given much more than food, drink, and clothing. He has given us a kingdom!
And yet, Jesus sees us and our flapping around for these things which are of no lasting value, which the Father will give to us anyway.
And He tells me: “But seek His kingdom and these things shall be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:31-32)
I must put away fear. I must put away anxiety. I must put away worry. I must cease my flapping.
And I must seek His kingdom and place my heart’s treasure there.
Isn’t it GOOD?!? Isn’t God’s Word a perfect word from a perfect Father? Oh, how wonderful it is! I can put aside the working of my wings and just rest in faith, with my eyes on the kingdom that is already mine! There is no need for anxiety, I serve an Almighty God who superintends and provides for His creation. There is no need for fear, I have a Father who loves me and takes care of my every need.
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NOTE: if you would like more information about how I do these types of word studies or to find out how to do them yourself, please check out these posts:
This post was shared at Titus 2 Tuesday