Summary: Four people-principles to help us turn stress into success!
1 Corinthians 16:8,9 - "But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has been opened unto me, and there are many adversaries."
USA Today published the results of the following Hilton survey in January 2001:
Percentage of Americans who say they:
Need more fun: 68
Need a long vacation: 67
Often feel stressed: 66
Feel time is crunched: 60
Want less work, more play: 51
Feel pressured to succeed: 49
Feel overwhelmed: 48
And you thought you were alone! Obviously a lot of us need to find some solutions to our stress.
And I think Paul has something to help us here. Even though there are adversaries at Ephesus, he says he’s going to stay on there for a while because God has opened doors of opportunity.
What follows this statement are applications of his ability to take obstacles and turn them into opportunities.
He gives us four insightful people-principles that will turn our stress into success.
1. The Timothy Principle - We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
1 Corinthians 16:10,11 - "Now if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear: for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. Therefore let no man despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me: for I am waiting for him with the brethren."
By closely examining Paul’s letters to Timothy you will see that fear was a big problem for Timothy.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:7 - "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
And in 1 Timothy 4:12: "Let no man despise your youth, but be an example of the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
Apparently Timothy had a problem feeling people didn’t think much of his leadership skills because he was young and inexperienced. He was timid and fearful about people who opposed his work.
So Paul’s encouragement to him was, "Don’t be afraid. Don’t let people belittle your calling from God."
Now this principle is not reserved for pastors and missionaries (although it is a great message for them). This truth applies to all of us.
Everyone’s life has its obstacles. Will you quit because you are afraid, or will you see your obstacles as opportunities?
Fear is a powerful tool of the tempter and his agents.
Paul’s admonition in verse 13 is very applicable here: "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong."
Christ-followers must be people of courage. That does not mean we are not tempted to be afraid. Courage simply means we keep on doing what’s right even when we are tempted not to because of our fears.
When the firemen and policemen entered the World Trade Center on September 11 they were afraid. But they were heroes because they did their duty in spite of their fear.
The church is not just interested in getting people out of burning buildings. We are interested in keeping people out of a burning hell! This task is going to take some courageous heroes.
One such individual entered my family’s life in 1971. I was 15 and my father had died that August. I lived with my mother and two older brothers in a rented duplex apartment. And in the other adjoining apartment lived a widow who came home drunk Christmas night and caught her apartment (and ours) on fire by leaving a cigarette in her chair.
A man coming home from work at 2 am in the morning saw the blazes and knocked on our door, saving our lives.
Now here’s the interesting thing. That same hero had to pull the widow from her apartment as she was kicking and screaming. She was either so drunk she misunderstood his motives or she wanted to die in the fire. I don’t know. But I do know that man didn’t pay any attention to her and saved her in spite of her objections.
That hero illustrates what we need in the church today. People who will not only overcome their fear, but also overcome the objections of others who do not want to be saved.
According to Paul - God has given us the power to do just that!
2. The Apollos Principle - Don’t pout just because you don’t get your way.
1 Corinthians 16:12 - "Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time."
Notice that there’s no apparent bitterness on Paul’s part because another well-known preacher of the day didn’t go to Corinth when Paul requested.