페이지 정보작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-11-27 15:53 조회935회 댓글0건
2 Timothy 3: 1-5; 10-11; 16-17
A pastor visited a pregnant woman at home. As the pastor finished his prayer, contractions started for the woman; in great pain, she started shedding tears. Anxious to alleviate this woman’s pain, the pastor started singing Hymn 343, “Weeping Will Not Save Me!” Listening to the verses “Weeping will not save me! Tho’ my face were bathed in tears, That could not allay my fears, Could not wash the sin of years! Weeping will not save me,” a great feeling of trepidation overcame the woman. “Oh, no,” the woman thought, “the pastor knows my sins that is why he is singing this song!”
At that moment, the woman remembered an advice from her mother “when the baby is about to come out, give a strong push” and tensed up her body to give a good push. However, the baby had no intentions of coming out just yet, and the pain worsened. Paying no attention to the pain-stricken spectacle of the woman, the pastor sang on with the hymn. “Working will not save me! Purest deeds that I can do, Holiest thoughts and feelings too, Cannot form my soul anew! Working will not save me.” Just as the hymn stated, working had no impact on the baby coming out.
Yet, the pregnant woman tried her best to withstand the excruciating pain. However, the pastor’s hymn only brought greater anxiety and a feeling of insecurity for the woman. “Waiting will not save me! Helpless guilty, lost I lie, In my ear is Mercy’s cry; If I wait I can but die: Waiting will not save me.” Weeping did not help her, working did not help her, and waiting by withstanding pain did not help her; her pain reached a level that became more and more unbearable by the minute.
Out of strength to carry on, the pregnant woman gave in and prepared herself for death. The verse of the hymn that the pastor just sang, “if I wait I can but die,” kept ringing and resonating inside her head. She thought, “Many women die giving birth; am I to be one of them?” As she slowly prepared herself for death, the tone of the hymn changed. “Faith in Christ will save me!” Weeping, working, and waiting did not work; but having faith? With the desperation of a drowning man, the woman screamed out, “I believe!” At that moment, her baby entered into this world with a loud, thunderous cry.
Perhaps the greatest of stress in this world is giving birth. Yet, no matter how great the stress during labor may be, it all melts away after the baby is born. Likewise, no matter how great a stress may be that might afflict us, arming ourselves with good faith will make that stress innocuous and inconsequential. Not only will the stress disappear; it will be sublimated into creative energy.
Searching for the word “stress” in the Internet yields some 900 hits in English Web sites alone. About $9.4 billion is spent on account of stress every year; of that amount, about $3.29 billion is spent on medicines to treat and cure stress. Among all of us, I would venture to guess that over 90% of us have some sort or source of stress in our lives.
Originally, stress describes a condition in which a well-running machine stops working due to some strain caused by external factors, such as debris, or internal factors, such as mechanical failure. Stress is also defined as some force that causes strain or deformity. The stress that afflict humans can be defined as pressure from the outside that makes us tense up on the inside. If stress is not addressed or relieved in a timely manner, it can lead to anxiety or depression, becoming a catalyst for serious problems down the road. The phrase “stress is the cause of all disease and sickness” is absolutely true.
Stress is often caused by our inter-personal relations and our surrounding environment or situation. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, many Americans suffer from depression and paranoia associated with biochemical terror attacks such as the Anthrax scare and the fear of additional terrorist attacks in the future. According to one poll, 71% of Americans suffer from some sort of depression as a result of the terrorist attacks and among those depressed, over half of them have problems concentrating at work or task at hand. Furthermore, of the depressed, over one third have problems with insomnia. The situation or the environment resulting from September 11 terrorist attacks surely became a major source of stress for most Americans. In our everyday lives, we exchange stress by exchange, I mean giving and receiving with our colleagues at work, our bosses, and our friends.
That stress is a formidable disease, a pathogen, that erode and blight our spiritual and physical health is not an overstatement. Stress must be relieved. However, there are productive, or beneficial, stress that allow us to excel at what we do, develop ourselves better than others and enable us to perform at a higher level. We must possess the intellect and the knowledge to manage our stress, to turn our stress into creative energy that allows us to excel. Then how must we, as Christians, overcome stress? Let’s pay close attention to today’s scripture.
The Epistles of Timothy are pastoral letters given by Paul to a young pastor, Timothy, who was in his mid-thirties at the time. Timothy’s overarching mission was to supervise and look after numerous churches of Ephesus. However, Timothy, an inexperienced and fledgling pastor at the time, lacked experience and confidence and, most of all, exhibited fears and trepidation in care taking the church. The fact that many false preachers threatened the church exacerbated the level of stress that Timothy felt. The harsh, unforgiving ministerial environment of Ephesus and the false preachers that threatened the very existence of the Church probably contributed greatly to the amount of stress that Timothy was under during those times. Today’s scripture can be viewed as a prescription for treatment given by Paul to assuage the amount of stress that was burdening Timothy.
First, we must be able to discern the things we need to avoid in order to beat, or defeat, stress. We suffer from stress when we fail to avoid those things that we must avoid. Then what are the evils that we must avoid? There is probably countless number of evils that we must avoid, but Paul lists the representative evils that we must avoid in verses 1 through 5 of today’s scripture. Verse 1 in the New King James Version states, “But know this, that in the last days perilous days will come;” in the English RSV version, it is stated, “In the last days there will come times of stress” meaning that certain stress will afflict us in the last days. Then what types of stress will afflict us?
When contemplating about verses 2 through 4, we can see that stress comes from our failure to avoid sins. We can see that those sins start within ourselves, on a personal level, that lead to family level; eventually, these sins spread and permeate to the entire social or communal level. The first part of verse 2 lists personal sins that we must avoid--“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud or arrogant, and abusive or blasphemous.
The latter portion of verse 2 lists three family-level sins, or sins committed within the realm of our relations with our families, that we must avoid. “Disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy or thoroughly bad,” meaning that should we not avoid these sins, we will end up living like animals.
Verses 3 though 5 list the eleven sins that we must avoid in our relations with those around us our neighbors and those in our communities. “Inhuman or unloving, unforgiving or implacable, slanders, profligates or without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, headstrong or reckless, haughty or swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, and holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power.”
The above 19 sins that Paul listed are all related to our personal and collective values. These values are not centered on God; rather, the fulcrum of these values rest on secular, materialistic, and hedonistic tendencies. Our lives change with the values that we adopt and the master we choose to serve. The holier our values and our master are, the holier we become. The reason for stress is that people fail to serve God, the One who gives us peace and freedom, as the Master and pursue vain icons and secular symbols that bring us only insecurity, anxiety, and death. When we avoid the evil values that Paul listed and grasp God as the focal point of our values, we will be freed from stress.
Second, we need to think about whom will help us when we are afflicted with stress. For Timothy, who felt a lot of stress from his lack of pastoral experience and the mountainous problems that faced his church, Paul proved to be a very good mentor.
The word ‘mentor’ was originally a person’s name. In 1200 B.C., King Odessey of Ithacan Kingdom in Greece left his son, Telemarcus, under the care of his trusted friend before going to the battlefield against the kingdom of Troy and the name of the friend was Mentor. When Odessey returned after 10 years of hard fought battles, his son Telemarcus had unrecognizably grown and matured into a man. In caring for Telemarcus, Mentor was stern like a strict father at times and encouraging and caring like a close friend at times. Therefore, the word ‘mentor’ denotes a spiritual teacher or spiritual father the one who encourages us, teaches us, and leads us down the right path. Remember the fact that the secret to Timothy’s success in overcoming daunting stress lay with his good mentor, Paul. Take a look at verses 10 and 11 of today’s scripture. “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.”
Paul is telling Timothy of his past experiences with stress the fact that Paul himself overcame a great amount of stress in the past. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ led Paul out of the cauldron of overbearing stress and tribulations, Paul is telling Timothy that Christ will help him overcome his tribulations. Timothy had a good mentor in Paul. Paul’s lifelong selfless service has become the example and the guide light for Timothy to follow, allowing Timothy, whose confidence and courage had been atrophied by unbearable stress, to overcome and beat stress.
In order for us to overcome stress, we need good mentors. Intellect and integrity are not prerequisites for becoming a good mentor. Anyone you can empty your heart out to, anyone you can completely bare your soul to can become your mentor. Ones who have a mentor to share their stress are often very successful in overcoming stress. So get a good mentor in your life. But keep in mind that our Lord Jesus Christ is the mentor among mentors. Jesus is prepared to share any type of stress we may be under, and He truly is a good mentor who can give us encouragement and hope in times of need.
Third, in order to beat stress, we need to revert back to the word of God. In order to avoid stress, we need to avoid all the sins that were mentioned before. And we need mentors to help us overcome stress. But these are not enough. When we revert back to the Word of Life, as given in the Bible, we can turn stress into creative energy within ourselves.
It is said that about 91% of all American households have at least one volume of Bible in the house. Yet, only 22% of those households have a family member who read the Bible daily. About 80% of the people keep a Bible in the house yet do not read it; rather, they keep it as a token decoration or display for their bookshelves. God gave us the Bible to have us read God’s words. In fact, the Bible was given to us not merely to read, but to have us live according to the words contained therein the Bible is a book of life.
Verses 16 and 17 of today’s scripture states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for corrections, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good works.”
If God’s word live within our lives and have an influence over our values, we can overcome and beat stress. I hope that the Bible becomes a valuable tool in your lives like a hammer, a saw, or a wrench. When you discover one of the sins that bring you stress, shatter it with the hammer, eviscerate it with the saw, and rip it out with the wrench. Let the Bible become the healing medicine for your souls. Let the Bible become the nourishing and curing medicine for your spirit, to revitalize your spirit in its fight with stress.
I would like to share with you a story that I read in concluding today’s sermon. A mountain climber, proud and self-reliant, set out on a hard climb. As night fell, he refused to make camp; instead, he continued with his trek. There was no moon, and the stars were covered by clouds overhead. As he was climbing a ridge about 100 meters from the top, he slipped and fell. Careening rapidly he could see only blotches of darkness as he felt the terrible sensation of gravity sucking him to the earth. He was certain he was going to die. But then, he felt a jolt that almost tore him in half.
Like any good mountain climber, he had staked himself with a long rope tied to his waist. In those moments of stillness, in the blackness of the dark night, suspended in the air, this self-reliant, self-made man had no choice but shout into the air, “God, please help me!” Suddenly, he heard a deep voice from heaven: “What do you want me to do?” “Save me!” said the climber. “Do you really think that I can save you?” God asked. “Yes!” the climber replied. “Then cut the rope that is holding you up.” God directed. Then there was silence and stillness. The man held tighter and tighter to his rope. The rescue team said that the next day they found a frozen mountain climber holding tightly to a rope, three feet off the ground.
What is the rope that binds you up? Is it stress? Then cut that rope called stress. And yell, “good bye, stress!” God will kick your stress into the air, getting rid of it.
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