μέριμνα (merimna) ~ care, anxiety, worry

μέριμνα (merimna) ~ care, anxiety, worry

The Greek concept of μέριμνα (merimna) describes a state in which someone is mentally occupied with something.  It manifests as an anxious, troubled, and distracted mind.  The attention consumed with the cares of this life.  The Bible teaches this is Satan’s only weapon against a believer in Christ, one that he employs to hinder spiritual growth.

Part One ~ I Peter 5:5-8
Introduction

This week we are beginning an eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna) (Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) (Strong’s 3309).

Definition

The noun μέριμνα (merimna) is translated as care, anxiety, and worry.  Its root is the Greek word μερίζω (merizō) (Strong’s 3307), which is translated to divide, or to separate.  So μέριμνα (merimna) represents a mental state or condition in which someone is occupied with or dwelling upon something.

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought.  In early Greek literature it is used to convey the concept of meditation.

Usage

The noun and verb forms of μέριμνα (merimna) are used in the New Testament and can carry either positive or negative associations.  Used in the positive, these words convey the idea of focused care.  By contrast, the negative conveys the idea of distraction through occupying the attention of the mind.  We are going to study both of these uses in our eight-part study. 

Method

In this study we are going to follow these two words through the New Testament in order to observe how they are used to reveal the tool by which Satan occupies the believer’s mind.  I Peter 5:5-8 is the fundamental Scripture text for our study.  In this text, Peter presents μέριμνα as Satan’s only weapon against a believer in Christ.

Phases of the Christian Life

Before we study the text in I Peter, we have to establish an understanding of the phases comprising the Christian life: the first being Salvation; the second being Growth and Change.  This understanding enables us to perceive why μέριμνα is the only weapon Satan can use against a believer.

Phase One ~ Salvation

As previously stated, Salvation is the first phase of the Christian life.  The Bible teaches that a person must experience a spiritual birth from the Spirit of God in order to be saved.  Just believing in the Lord does not establish salvation; a person must experience the Spirit of Christ coming into their spirit or soul.  The presence of the Spirit of Christ within the believer was established as the proof of salvation by the Early Church.  Paul said to the Christians in Corinth, “Test yourselves if you are in the faith, prove yourselves.  Or do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?  If not, you are unapproved.”  (II Corinthians 13:5)

Paul also said, “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you; but if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this one is not of Him.”  (Romans 8:9)

John in his polemic style of writing said, “And the one keeping His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.  And in this we know that He abides in us, from the Spirit which He gave to us.”  (I John 3:24)

Again, John says, “In this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given to us of His Spirit.”  (I John 4:13)

Not only did the New Testament writers establish that a person must be born from above through a spiritual birth in Christ in order to be saved, but Paul also said, “In whom also you, having heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after having believed you were sealed by means of the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance, for redemption of the possession, unto the praise of His glory.”  (Ephesians 1:13-14)  Here Paul states that Christ not only fills our soul or spirit, but our soul is additionally sealed by the Holy Spirit. 

Peter said concerning the ones who have an inheritance in heaven waiting for them: “The ones being kept (guarded) in the power of God through faith, for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  (I Peter 1:5)

John says, “We know that everyone who has been born of God is not continuously sinning; but the one who has been born of God He (God) keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.”  (I John 5:18)

So, the Bible teaches and establishes that a person who is saved belongs to Christ.  He is a person who is born of the Spirit of Christ and has the Spirit of Christ dwelling in his spirit (or soul).  This person’s spirit has been sealed by the Holy Spirit.  And this condition of salvation does not allow for penetration by any force or spirit into the spirit of the saved person.

Phase Two ~ Growth and Change

The second phase of the Christian life is that of Growth and Change.  It is designated as Growth and Change because growth produces change. After a person is saved by receiving the Spirit of Christ, he begins to grow by the inward working of God’s Spirit Who abides within him.  The growth process takes place within the arena of the mind.  Paul said, “And do not continually be conformed to this age but be continually transformed by means of the renewing of your mind, for you to prove what is the good, well pleasing, and perfect will of God.”  (Romans 12:2)

Paul also said, “For you to put off the old man according to the former lifestyle, the one being corrupt according to the desires of the deceit; and to be renewed by the spirit of your mind.”  (Ephesians 4:22-23)

Since a believer’s spirit is saved and sealed, the only area in which Satan can attack is the mind.  Consequently, Satan is fighting for the occupation of the attention of the mind, also known in Scripture as μέριμνα (merimna).

Meaning Part One ~ I Peter 5:5-8

Having discussed the phases of the Christian life, we can now understand the importance of Peter’s teaching in I Peter 5:5-8 where He says,

5)  Likewise, you younger ones be submissive to the older ones; and everyone put on humility while being submissive to one another; because God is resisting the proud, but is giving grace to the humble.
6)  Therefore, be humbled under the mighty hand of God, in order that he might exalt you in time;   
7)  having cast all your care (μέριμνα) upon Him, because it is a concern to Him about you.
8)  Be sober, be watchful, because your adversary the devil, is walking around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

In this text, Peter presents μέριμνα (merimna) – the occupation of the attention of the mind as the only weapon Satan uses against a believer.  Peter said in Verse 6 that we should submit to God’s humbling process.  The aorist participle in Verse 7 tells us that we are to submit to this humbling process having cast all of our care upon the Lord.  We are to cast all of the things that are occupying our minds onto the Lord. 

Peter, in verses 7 and 8, states that the Lord is concerned about us because our adversary, the devil, is walking around as a roaring lion.  The Lord is concerned for us because Satan is looking to devour God’s people, not spiritually, but mentally.  How?  By occupying the attention of our minds so that we are too busy and too worried about the things of this earthly life.  Consequently, we do not have the time or the focus to study and receive from God’s Word.  The end result is that we fail to grow.  We are saved but we remain unchanged. 

We know from Job chapters 1 and 2 that Satan “scouts” God’s people just as an army scout surveys the opposing army before an attack.  Satan scouts us in order to accuse us before God. He plans his attack upon our minds using those things he perceives as our weaknesses.  Our weakness could be our career.  It could be someone with whom we are too emotionally attached.  It could even be an activity for which we have a passion.  Satan cannot attack and penetrate a believer’s spirit, but he can and does make an all-out effort to distract us by drawing our attention away from the Word of God.

Conclusion

Paul said in II Corinthians 2:11, “In order that we should not be taken advantage of by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”  The Early Church was not ignorant of Satan’s schemes or plots and ways of attack.  In I Peter 5:8, Peter commands, “Be sober,” and, “Be watchful.”  We are commanded to be alert and not be ignorant of Satan’s schemes.  The significance of the Growth and Change phase of a believer’s life cannot be overemphasized; which is why Satan works so diligently to distract us from this process using his only weapon, μέριμνα (merimna).

Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.
– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Two ~ Matthew 6:24-34
Introduction

We are continuing with part two in our eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna, Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309). 

Definition

The noun μέριμνα (merimna) is translated as care, anxiety, and worry.  Its root is the Greek word μερίζω (merizō, Strong’s 3307), which is translated to divide, or to separate.  

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought.  

Review ~ Phases of the Christian Life

So μέριμνα (merimna) represents a mental state or condition in which someone is occupied with or dwelling upon something.

As a foundation for our word study, we established a scriptural understanding of the phases of the Christian life: the first being Salvation; the second being Growth and Change.

As previously discussed, Scripture shows that the Early Church established the presence of the Spirit of Christ dwelling within a person as the proof of salvation (Romans 8:9; II Corinthians 13:5; I John 3:24; I John 4:13).  Additionally, Ephesians 1:13 states that a believer is “sealed by the Holy Spirit.”  Hence, anyone who belongs to Christ has the Spirit of Christ indwelling and sealing his spirit.  These two things make it impossible for any other spirit to penetrate the spirit of a believer.

We also studied that once saved, a believer grows and changes through the “transformation of the mind” (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23).

Review ~ Meaning Part One

Based upon these scriptural facts, I Peter 5:5-8 becomes the foundation Scripture for our study on μέριμνα (merimna).  In verse 7, Peter exhorts us to cast our care (μέριμνα, merimna) upon the Lord because Satan (our adversary) is walking around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  Since Scripture presents that the spirit of a believer has been saved and sealed by the Holy Spirit, we understand this scripture to mean that Satan is not looking to devour a believer in Christ spiritually, but mentally.  Satan attempts to disrupt the growth and maturation process of a believer by occupying the attention of his mind.  This μέριμνα (merimna) is the only weapon Satan can use against a believer – he cannot take a believer’s salvation, he cannot unseal a believer’s spirit, he can only attack a believer’s mind, attempting to distract his attention away from God’s Word thereby hindering spiritual growth and maturity.

Meaning Part Two ~ Matthew 6:24-34

This week we are going to study from the teaching of Jesus Himself in Matthew 6:24-34.  This is the teaching upon which Peter and Paul based their teachings of this important issue.

Matthew 6:24 is the primary teaching upon which Verses 25-34 are based.  We must understand this most important principle before we can understand the importance of the Lord’s teaching on μέριμνα (merimna).

24)  No one is able to serve two lords; for either he will hate the one, and he will love the other; or he will cling to one, and he will despise the other.  You are not able to serve God and mammon.

Singular Capacity

The word able in this text is the Greek word δύναμαι (dunamai, Strong’s 1410) and means ability or capacity.  Jesus taught a human being has been created with a capacity to serve only one lord or master.  He cannot and does not have the capacity to serve two. 

The word mammon at the end of the verse is from an Aramaic root meaning materialism; which   Jesus personifies here as being the lord of materialism.  Materialism, according to the concept of mammon, involves both physical things as well as ambitions and desires for them.  Jesus is saying that a human being is created with the capacity to serve either God or the material realm but is unable to serve both.  [μαμμωνα (mammōna) Strong’s 3126]

Instruction

Notice how Verse 25 starts:

25)  On account of this I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you should eat and what you should drink; nor for your body, what you should put on.  Is not life more than the food and the body more than the clothing.

 The phrase, on account of this (διὰ τοῦτο, dia touto) means on the basis of the truth I just stated.  Jesus follows His presenation of the principle of singular capacity with His teaching on μεριμνάω (merimnao).  He instructs believers to not be anxious about the things pertaining to this life because a human being has been created with the capacity to serve only one realm or master.

Command One of Two

Jesus then presents the first of two main commands in this text: “do not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) for your life.”  Jesus knows that because we have the capacity to serve only one master, we can’t be consumed with thinking and worrying about the necessities of our life and be serving Him at the same time. 

Jesus then goes on to say:

26)  Look at the birds of heaven, that they do not sow, nor do they reap, nor do they gather into barns, and your heavenly Father is feeding them; do you not differ more than they?
27)  And which of you while being anxious is able to add one cubit upon his stature?
28)  And why are you anxious concerning clothing?  Observe the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not labor nor do they spin;
29)  but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself as one of these.
30)  And if God clothes in this way the grass of the field, which is existing today and tomorrow is being cast into an oven, will He not much more clothe you, little faith ones?

Outline

In the body of His message, Jesus presents two secondary commands and four questions in order to drive home the importance of the knowledge of μεριμνάω (merimnao). 

Secondary Command

The first secondary command is “Look,” ἐμβλέπω (emblepō, Strong’s 1689) translated  to consider, to study.  Jesus is commanding the disciples to study the birds of the air and see how their heavenly Father takes care of them. 

Question

Jesus then asks the first question, “Do you not differ more than they?”  He is saying that since the heavenly Father feeds the birds, He will certainly feed the ones who belong to Him.

Question

In Verse 27, Jesus asks the second question, “And which of you while being anxious is able to add one cubit upon his stature?”  The word anxious is the participial form of μεριμνάω (merimnao) and denotes a habit of life.  Jesus is showing that a person can be continually occupied with his height but will not be able to add to it even though he is constantly thinking on it.

Question

In Verse 28, He asks the third question, “And why are you anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) concerning clothing?”

Secondary Command

He then gives the second secondary command, “Observe the lilies.” [καταμανθάνω (katamanthanō) Strong’s 2648, translated to examine, to observe.]  Drawing attention to the fact that God clothes the flowers and grass of the field.  They do not labor or spin in order to obtain their clothing; He provides it for them.  Jesus said that when Solomon clothed himself, he was not clothed as one of these. 

Question

The Lord then asks the fourth question in Verse 30, “Will He not much more clothe you, little faith ones?”  Jesus is presenting throughout these scriptures that trust in the Lord is the key to dealing with the necessities of life.  We do not have the capacity to be occupied with our necessities and to trust the Lord at the same time; but when we occupy our minds with the Lord, He makes sure that we have what we need for life.

Conclusion One of Two

The Lord presents the first of two conclusions in Verse 31:

31)  Therefore, do not be anxious for your life saying, “What should we eat?” or, “What should we drink?” or, “With what should we be clothed?”

He starts with the conclusion therefore and presents a series of subjunctives working off of the main command in Verse 25.  The reasons we should not be anxious about these things are given in verse 32:

32)  For all these things the nations are seeking after; for your heavenly Father knows that you are in need of all these things.

The heathen of the world are seeking the things of survival and have the attention of their minds constantly on mammon.  Jesus is saying our heavenly Father already knows the things that we need. 

Command Two of Two

The second main command of this teaching comes in verse 33.  In light of the fact that a human being has the capacity to serve only one master, either God or mammon, Jesus says:

33)  But you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Since we have been created to have the capacity to seek and serve only one master, we are commanded to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Since our Father knows that we are in need of earthly things, they will be given to us by God while we focus our attention on the things of the Lord.  Note that He did not say we would get what we want, but that we will have our needs taken care of.

Conclusion Two of Two

There is a second conclusion in Verse 34.  Jesus again uses a subjunctive mood to express what we should not do based upon the main command, “Do not be anxious for your life” in verse 25.  He says,

34)  Therefore, you should not be anxious (μεριμνάω) for the tomorrow.  For the tomorrow will be anxious for the things of itself.  Sufficient for the day is the adversity of it.

Jesus not only warns us that having the attention of our minds occupied with the necessities of life will distract us from seeking and serving the Lord, but He presents that being anxious about tomorrow will also occupy our thinking processes.  He says that there will be enough worry (μεριμνάω, merimnao) coming with the day itself and the adversity is sufficient without our worrying over tomorrow before it gets here.

Importance

In these verses, Jesus introduced the concept of the occupation of the attention of the mind.  He established that a human being does not have the capacity to serve God and the material realm at the same time and that Satan uses even the necessities of life to occupy our thinking and take our attention away from the Lord.

There are many believers today who find themselves occupied with the material realm all week long.  On Sunday they attend church, but experience frustration over not growing in the Lord.  This happens because our minds are occupied with the things of the physical realm even while we are sitting in church.  We simply are not focused on the Word.  Similarly, believers go to fellowship out of duty, but do not experience the “transformation of the mind” because they are occupied and anxious about so many things.

We believers must understand the battle is not over just because we are saved.  Salvation is assured; but another battle is being waged.  It is the battle for the attention of our minds and our growth and our maturity as believers is at stake.  The mind is the arena where God ministers His Word and brings healing from the effects of sin.

This is why Peter says, “Be humbled under the mighty hand of God having cast all our care (μέριμνα, merimna) upon the Lord.”  He explains God is concerned for us because we have an adversary who desires to devour us through the occupation of the attention of our minds.  Satan will use any goal, any ambition, any activity, or any material thing to occupy the attention of our minds so that we will not be receptive to God’s Word, and, consequently, unable to grow or be changed.

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Part Three ~ Luke 8:4-15 - NEW -
Introduction

We are continuing with part three in our eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna, Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309). 

Definition

The noun μέριμνα (merimna) is translated as care, anxiety, and worry.  Its root is the Greek word μερίζω (merizō, Strong’s 3307), which is translated to divide, or to separate

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought

Usage

The noun and verb forms of μέριμνα (merimna) are used in the New Testament and can carry either positive or negative associations.  Used in the positive, these words convey the idea of focused care.  By contrast, the negative conveys the idea of distraction through occupying the attention of the mind.

Review ~ Meaning Part Two

Last week we studied from the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 6:24-34 wherein Jesus established four basic principles involved in μέριμνα (merimna):

(1)  The first principle is found in Verse 24 – Jesus said that a human being was not created with a capacity to serve two masters.  He specifically said we do not have the capacity to serve God and materialism.

(2)  The second principle Jesus presented is in Verse 25.  He commanded, “Do not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) for your life, what you should eat and what you should drink; nor for your body, what you should put on.”

(3)  Based upon these two, Jesus then presents a third principle in Verse 33, “But you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

(4)  The fourth principle is found in Verse 34.  He said we should not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) about tomorrow.

Meaning Part Three ~ Luke 8:4-15

This week we are continuing our study on the importance of understanding how Satan uses μέριμνα (merimna) – the occupation of the attention of our minds – to distract us from the things of the Lord.

This week we are going to study the importance of the concept of μέριμνα (merimna) as presented in Luke 8:4-15, The Parable of the Sower:

4)  And while a large crowd was gathering together, and the ones from city after city were traveling to Him, He spoke through a parable:
5)  “The one sowing went out to sow his seed; and as he was sowing, some indeed fell along the road, and it was trampled down, and the birds of heaven ate it.
6)  “And other seed fell upon the rock; and after it sprung up, it withered, on account of it had no moisture.
7)  “And other seed fell in the middle of the thorns; and after the thorns sprang up with it, they choked it.
8)  “And other seed fell upon the good ground, and after it sprung up it produced fruit a hundred times.”  While He was saying these things, He was crying out, “The one having ears to hear let him hear.”
9)  And His disciples were asking Him, saying, “What might this parable mean?”
10)  And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables, in order that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”
11)  “Now this is the parable; the seed is the Word of God;
12)  “and the ones along the road are the ones who while hearing the Devil comes and removes the Word from their heart, in order that they should not be saved having believed.
13)  “And the ones upon the rock are those who when they should hear, they received the word with joy, and these have no root, they believe for a time, and in time of testing they fall away.
14)  “And that which fell into the thorns, these are the ones having heard, and while going under the cares (μέριμνα, merimna) and riches and pleasures of life are choked and do not bring to completion.
15)  “And that which in the good ground, these are they who in a right and good heart after having heard the Word they hold it down, and they bring forth fruit in endurance.

Overall Theme

Before we can discuss the importance of this parable, we must first understand the overall theme of this section of Scripture as given to us in Luke 8:18, “Therefore, be observing how you are hearing; for whoever may have, it will be given to him; and whoever may not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

Understanding the Parable

The meaning of the Parable of the Sower is found in Verses 11-15.  Four different ways in which a person can hear the Word of God are presented.  Of the four, only one produces salvation.  This means that there are three conditions where salvation is not brought to completion:

The first of these occurs when a person’s heart is so hard in resisting God’s Word that the Word of God does not penetrate his heart and therefore can be and is removed by Satan.  

The second heart condition occurs when a person hears the Word with excitement but does not allow it to take root within himself.  Consequently, he only lasts until trials come.  Those trials then cause him to fall away from the things of the Lord.

The third heart condition is presented in Verse 14.  This occurs when a person hears the Word of God but continues “under the influence of the cares (μέριμνα, merimna), riches, and pleasures of life,” which then choke out the influence of the Word of God.

An Example

This parable teaches us that the Word of God will not bear the fruit of salvation if a person who is hearing the Word of God remains under the influence of the cares of this life.  Bearing in mind that a person only has the capacity to serve one master, a good illustration of this is the story of the rich, young ruler presented in Luke 18:18-23.  Jesus told the young ruler that he lacked one thing to inherit eternal life; and then instructed him, “Sell as much as you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow Me.”  When the rich, young ruler heard this, he became very grieved, for he was exceedingly rich.  He was grieved because his focus in life was on his riches and he couldn’t give them up for Christ.

More Examples

We begin to understand some of the more difficult teachings of the Lord once we understand the concept of μεριμνάω (merimnao) as presented in the Scriptures.  The Lord, being aware of Satan’s schemes and knowing that each of us has the capacity to serve only one master, addressed this issue with each individual person He met.  Multiple examples can be found in Luke 9:57-62:

57)  And it happened while they were going in the way someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever you should go, Lord.”
58)  And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven nests; but the Son of Man does not have where he may lay His head.”
59)  And He said to another, “Follow Me.”  And he said, “Lord, allow me after having gone to first bury my father.”
60)  But Jesus said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but when you yourself go declare the kingdom of God.”
61)  And also another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first allow me to say good- bye to the ones at my house.”
62)  But Jesus said to him, “No one after having put his hand upon the plough, and continually looking toward the things behind, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Jesus interacted with three different men.  One was called by the Lord and two volunteered to follow Him.

The first volunteer stated that he would follow the Lord wherever He went.  The Lord’s reply touched the very heart of the man’s worldly care (μέριμνα, merimna).  Jesus told him that He Himself didn’t have a place to lay His head.  It gave the man something to consider in making his decision to follow Jesus.  This man obviously placed value on having a house to live in and therefore had to make a choice between following Jesus and having that human comfort.

The second man was called by Jesus to follow Him; but this man expressed the need to first take care of his father.  The Lord said that he should allow the spiritual dead to bury their own physical dead.  The Lord was pointing out the man’s concern that was keeping him from following Jesus.

The third man, the other volunteer, told the Lord that he would follow Him after he had said good-bye to his household.  At this point, the Lord reiterated what He first presented in Matthew 6:24-34 and Luke 8:4-15.  He said, “No one after having put his hand to the plough, and continually looking toward the things behind, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  The word fit is the Greek word εὔθετος (euthetos, Strong’s #2111), which means to be lined up with.  Jesus taught that a person could not be aligned with the kingdom of God if he is constantly looking back at the things behind (μέριμνα, merimna) while he attempts to put his hand to the plow (salvation).

Satan’s Weapon

The Lord is not the only one who understands how we function.  Satan also knows that a person has the capacity to serve only one master: either the Lord or the things (including people) of this earthly life.  Therefore he scouts us; and once he has determined what is important to us, he uses those things, no matter what they are, to pull our attention away from the Lord.

Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.

– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.

– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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