11-15-2020: The Three C’s for Stress

“The 3 C’s for Handling Stress”

Philippians 1:12-26

Summary: 3 C’s for Handling Stress: Confidence, Control, Commitment

I. Introduction.

You fall asleep on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, and you dream. In your dream – you are a quarterback – looking out from under an NFL helmet – to see 3,000 pounds of raw human emotion mixing it up in front of you. Half of those huge men have one goal: to bury you! That’s stress!

How does a QB handle stress? 3C’s:

Confidence: He has taken thousands of snaps – and he can depend upon superior speed – instincts and skills. He has a strong offensive line to protect him. If something should go wrong – he has the best medical team available to help him.

Control: He has called the play – and once the ball is in hands – he knows exactly what he wants to do.

Commitment: This is what he chooses to do. Once the game starts – any second thoughts about whether risking his body are forgotten. He is 100% committed to executing the game plan.

The QB is facing huge stress – but it is manageable. In fact – he loves it. He has Confidence – Control – and Commitment.

So how do you handle stress? We might try to tell ourselves, “Just relax,” – but that seldom works – because the causes of stress don’t go away.

To deal with stress – we need to utilize the 3 C’s. Yet that is easier said than done:

We might not be really Confident. We don’t know what will happen to our health – or the economy. We aren’t sure about our own abilities – or whether things will work out as we hoped. We struggle to maintain Control. We can’t control sickness – a bad economy – or natural disasters. We can’t control our kids – our boss – even our own emotions.

We might question our Commitment. We second-guess our choices. We look for shortcuts. When things get hard – we wonder whether the benefits are worth the cost.

The 3 C’s can help us with stress – but how do we get confidence – control – and commitment?

II. How Does Our Faith Help Us?

How does trusting in Jesus Christ help us deal with the 3 C’s?

Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians from a prison – or perhaps house arrest – in Rome. He was concerned for his life – because he could be sentenced to death any day. He was concerned for the gospel – to which he has committed his life – false teachers were filling the void of his absence in the churches. He was concerned about the church in Philippi – as he had heard that there was conflict and dissension.

Yet Paul is Confident – Committed – and in certain respects in Control – because he trusts in Christ.

Read Philippians 1:12-20.

A. Trusting Christ Gives CONFIDENCE.

Trusting Christ gives us Confidence. Philippians 1:19 “for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” Is he confident that he will be released from prison? No – in fact he probably wasn’t going to be released from prison. However – the footnote tells us that the Greek word translated “deliverance” is the word for “salvation” – it can also mean “vindication.” Paul has a lot of confidence – because he believes God will vindicate and save him – even if he dies!

His confidence is further explained in the next verse: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

All through this letter – Paul is confident, not in himself – but in God using him for his glory. In verse 12he says, “What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” In verse 6 – he is confident that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion in Jesus Christ.”

Paul’s confidence is in God – and he realizes that he doesn’t have to win all the battles – but merely keep the faith and live with courage.

Faith changes a lot about the things that stress us out. We don’t have to be confident we can beat cancer to face it with confident hope. We don’t have to know how our kids and grandkids will turn out to be confident in how we deal with them. We don’t have to know whether ethical behavior will pay off to confidently do what is right.

Will things always turn out as we hope? No. Cheaters do prosper sometimes – as least for a while. Life can be unfair. Christians get sick and even die.

Yet in the end – Christ will win. In these 15 short verses – Paul refers to “Christ” 9 times! Paul believes – and we can believe – that Christ will win in the end. Because Christ will win in the end – we will win in the end – if we live with courage and hope.

In the turmoil and uncertainty of the Protestant Reformation, The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) began with a question, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” The answer is, “That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.” When God is in control, we can live with confidence.

B. Trusting Christ Allows Us to CONTROL Our Own Choices.

Trusting Christ allows us to CONTROL our own choices. For example – Are you a “right seat driver”? You know – always looking at the road – even when you’re not driving. Sputtering –  “Watch out for that car”? Stressed when your window is fogged – even though the driver can see perfectly? Maybe even moving your foot to a brake pedal that isn’t there? You are not the driver – but you want to be in control.

Paul was in prison – and he didn’t seem to have a lot of control over his life. At the same time – he was convinced that he could make CHOICES. In verses 1:18b-22, he said, “…I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!”

It is strange that Paul says – “What shall I choose?” – since he doesn’t seem to have much choice in what will happen to him. He can control his attitude, however: “I rejoice. Yes, I will continue to rejoice.” He can choose to live with courage and hope. Nobody can take away those choices.

We can’t control many things in our lives. We can’t control our spouse – although me might try and good luck with that. We can’t control everything our kids do – Even a crying infant shows us that. We can’t control the people at work – or people driving like maniacs.

We can’t control terrorists – the economy – or politicians – at least – not much. We can’t control the weather – pandemics – or the chemical imbalances that make us prone to anxiety or depression. We can’t control the past.

What is Paul’s secret for stress that comes from not being in control? Give it up! “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!” He doesn’t get to choose whether he lives or dies – and maybe that is a good thing. He does get to choose to lean into God’s plans for him – in life or in death.

No matter how helpless we feel – we still have choices. Paul says to the church in verse 27,Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

Whatever happens – we can choose to take care of ourselves – to eat well, go to bed on time, read the Bible and pray. We can choose not to sink to the level of those around us – to be proactive and positive – and to make the best of every situation. We can choose to do what is right. As much as we can – we can live at peace. We can bring light into the darkness – and bring glory to Christ.

C. Trusting Christ Makes Us Strong in Our COMMITMENT.

Read Philippians 1:22-26.

Trusting Christ makes us strong in our COMMITMENT. A wise man once gave this advice: “Stay alive all your life.” Paul decided to do that. For as many days as he would live, he was 100% committed to whatever opportunities God would give him

Stress increases when people are less than 100% in the game! A student who is putting forth 70% effort in a class – or a worker who is going through the motions – are setting themselves up for stress. People who are tentative about their marriage commitment – even questioning whether they should stay married – are increasing their stress level. Christians who show up at church when it is convenient – while trying to invest as little as possible in their relationship with Christ and caring for others will find that their religious activities are just another source of busyness.

E. Stanley Jones – a missionary to India – once said – “If you don’t make up your mind, your unmade mind will unmake you.” Shallow commitments lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction.

When you look back – were there times in your life when you were fully committed to serving Christ? Maybe you went on a mission trip – or became a Sunday school teacher – or made a sizable contribution to a cause. Maybe you invested significant time and effort in people – or you took a courageous moral stand. It was stressful in some ways – yes – but it was a good stress – with joy and fulfillment. That’s what commitment does.

As you put your life on – for a few minutes this morning, what are the sources of stress in your life? Maybe it is your marriage – or your kids – or other relatives. Maybe it is work – or difficult people. Maybe you are getting older – and losing abilities or freedom. Maybe the stress is in the world – and you feel powerless.

III. Bottomline: Paul’s Example for Us Today.

Paul’s predicaments in his life provides us an example on how to live as Christians today. This was not his final imprisonment in Rome. But he didn’t know that. Awaiting trial – he knew he could either be released or executed. However – he trusted Christ to work it out for his deliverance. His prayer waws that when he stood trial – he would speak courageously for Christ and not be timid or ashamed. Whether he lived or died – he wanted to exalt Christ. As it turned out – he was released from his imprisonment but arrested again go or three years later. Only faith in Christ could sustain Paul in such adversity. And only the same faith in Christ will sustain us in our own adversities.

III. Conclusion: What Do You Need?

Ok, MB B&S – Look deep within yourselves –  – What do you need to handle the stress in your life?

Do you need Confidence that you will be OK – and your efforts will be worth it in the end? With Christ – we know that all things work together for our good. In the end – we share his victory.

Are you struggling – because life is out of Control? We can’t control our circumstances – but we can choose to trust God. We can let go and let God take care of the things we can’t control – while we do our best to stay on the course, he has set for us.

Are you holding back from total Commitment? If we continually question whether following Christ is worth it, our questioning just adds to our stress. Once we decide to be “all in,” we are focused and in the flow of what God is doing in and through us.

What does Christ want to give you today?

Let us pray –