Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.
Ephesians 5: 15-16
In God’s appointed course for you, it may be that today was to have been the greatest day of your life, yet you would let it slip as if it were any other day. The man whose today is like his yesterday lacks a sense of God’s timings. No servant of the Lord should be content with present attainment, for to be satisfied with what is, is to be a loser of opportunities.
Let us suppose that on January 3rd the Lord puts into my heart to go and seek out a certain person who, in his providence, is destined to become five years hence a mighty instrument in His hands for the salvation of souls. To obey may be the greatest single act of service in my life. But suppose on this day I am afraid of the cold, or something equally trivial, and do not go. I have let slip an opportunity, and perhaps lost thereby a powerful instrument for God. And the trouble is, such occasions do not wait for us. They pass swiftly by. So when God moves, let us move with Him. No divinely sent opportunity must elude us.
The Bible tells us that on the day when we stand before the Throne of God, that He will wipe away the tears from our eyes.
“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.”
There is much speculation about what will have caused tears in that moment, but I want us to consider that perhaps one possibility just might be our sorrow over missed opportunities. Each of us every day are given ample opportunity to worship and honor God, to serve Him, and to fulfill the mission of Christ-the Great Commission. And each day we choose whether or not we will obey the urging of the Holy Spirit.
Most of us have around us those who don’t know Christ as their Savior. I’m sure that if we were asked, we’d say, “Sure, I want everyone I know and even those I don’t know to know Christ as their Savior.” Perhaps we think that somehow someone else, more knowledgeable or more spiritual will happen by and use the opportunity and our friends will be given the chance to receive Christ.
There was a time before cell phone technology that when we saw someone broke down on the side of the road that we stopped to lend a helping hand. Was there a risk? Absolutely. We’ve all heard the stories and unfortunately the bad ones made the news so we decided the risk was too great.
In the early church, every believer understood that they were given opportunity to share the Good News. We read that when the Jerusalem church was under great persecution and it’s members fled the city, in every community they inhabited, a church was planted.
“Saul wholeheartedly approved of Stephen’s death.And on that day a great and relentless persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem; and the believers were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles. Now those [believers] who had been scattered went from place to place preaching the word [the good news of salvation through Christ].”
Over the years, we have morphed into the idea that only the “experts”(pastors, evangelists, etc.) can do such work. We often say that we don’t know enough to tell somebody else about Jesus. Sometimes we say that we don’t want to be pushy or we don’t want to offend or a dozen other reasons, all which lead to missed opportunities for us and those around us. We may miss an opportunity to share our story and faith but they may miss an opportunity to know Christ and become lost in eternity. The Bible emphasizes that today is the time of opportunity.
“Working together with Him, we strongly urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain [by turning away from sound doctrine and His merciful kindness]. For He says,“At the acceptable time (the time of grace) I listened to you,And I helped you on the day of salvation.”Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”— we put no obstruction in anyone’s path, so that the ministry will not be discredited…..”
2 Corinthians 6:1-3
So then, as each of us are given opportunity, let us share the message of salvation.
I realize that it can be scary and overwhelming for us but let us remember that we aren’t engaged in this task by ourselves. God in His grace has given to us the Holy Spirit to work through us and in us as we give ourselves to the opportunities that arise. Perhaps we could take a lesson from the early church who were, like we intimidated by the size of the opportunity. So they prayed:
And now, Lord, observe their threats [take them into account] and grant that Your bond-servants may declare Your message [of salvation] with great confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders (attesting miracles) take place through the name [and the authority and power] of Your holy Servant and Son Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were meeting together was shaken [a sign of God’s presence]; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness and courage.
Every opportunity in life is surrounded by risk, opposition and the possibility of failure. We may be given an opportunity for promotion and that opportunity takes us into new and uncharted territory and it may be that we succeed or it might be that we fail, but I’m sure we will not let that hinder our moving forward. We may find ourselves given an opportunity to buy a new house or car and I dare say most of us take a lot of risk because we lack knowledge about houses and cars, but we don’t let our lack of knowledge stop us from investing. And every opportunity we are given to share our faith is surrounded by risk and often adversity. It’s easy to forget that we not live in a natural world but we also live in a spiritual world. We can’t afford to forget that darkness will always resist light, the devil will always resist the work of God, and if we choose to use the opportunity that God gives us, we do so against the pressure of the darkness. Paul tells us that every great opportunity is surrounded by great adversity and the person or congregation that chooses to use every means to seize every opportunity to tell people about Jesus will often find themselves surrounded by adversity. Our question must be whether it’s worth the cost. God thought that every human was worth the price, so He gave up His Son. Can we at least use our opportunities as God opens them up?
“because a wide door for effective service has opened to me [in Ephesus, a very promising opportunity], and there are many adversaries.”
1 Corinthians 16:9
I hope on that day when you stand before Christ, your tears will be few over missed opportunities. Instead may you hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Dr. John Thompson