What do you do when an opportunity comes calling? Do you seize the moment and take advantage of the opportunity or do you see the opportunity as a potential danger that should be avoided at all costs?
The Cambridge dictionary defined opportunity as, an occasion or situation that makes it possible to do something that you want to do or have to do, or the possibility of doing something.
Every opportunity is a chance to do something based on some knowledge or circumstance that provides us with the chance to do it. It is often associated with positive things however, people can use opportunities in negative ways especially when taking advantage of other people. Some people for instance use every opportunity they can get to talk. They are not bad people, it is just who they are.
One of such people was Paul the Apostle. Paul could be said to be someone who can chat you to death when it comes to preaching the gospel. How do I know this? In Acts 20, While Paul was at Troas, a communion meeting was held. It was not meant to be a full service, it was supposed to be typically like what we are having now. Paul was supposed to give an exhortation at the meeting but decided to extend the exhortation into a full blown sermon that lasted until midnight.
One of audience was a young man named Eutychus. He was sitting at the window listening to Paul speak. After a couple of hours, the young man began to doze off. It was just a matter of time before he fell into a deep sleep and ended up falling from the third story window where he was sitting and died instantly. It looked like an evangelistic outreach was going to turn into a burial service until Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, went to the man, threw his arms around him and declared, “Don’t be alarmed, He’s Alive!” (Acts 20: 10).
Now one would have thought that Paul would have learnt his lesson and round up the meeting then, instead, the communion service continued and Paul spoke until daylight. What a man! The people didn’t just go home excited about the words they heard from Paul, they also saw first hand what the power of God can do!
Now it is easy for us to wonder why this man would be sleeping while the service was going on but If I were to ask if anyone here has never dozed while a sermon was going on, I can guarantee most of us would have and that includes me.
What was Paul’s driving force? Why would he see the need to pour out his heart to the people for several hours? The answer is found in Ephesians 5: 16 “Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days.”. Like the other Apostles, Paul lived every day as if the Lord would return in his lifetime and he wanted to ensure that as many people as possible heard the good news of the gospel before the Lord returned. Paul practiced what he preached. He knew he was leaving Troas the next morning and to him, the hours he would have spent sleeping was an opportunity to speak to the people before he left the next day.
I was recently at work when one of my colleagues began talking about how awesome the universe is and why he loved the Big Bang theory. I decided to ignore what he was saying so I could concentrate on my work but in one of those rare moments this guy just went on and on about how things just became and how it just works. I felt something stirring inside of me. I tried to dismiss it and continue working but it wouldn’t let me. I felt as if a voice was telling me, “Are you just going to sit there while this guy continues to claim God’s creation just exists?” At that point, I stopped what I was doing, whispered a quick prayer, looked up at the guy and addressed him while the others looked on.
I asked him, “Do you really think that the complex universe with forces and intricate interaction between various entities just happened?”. He asked me, “what do you think make things work?” By this time, everyone had stopped working and were looking at the two of us. “Well,” I told him, “There is an architect who is responsible for the existing of all things, there is no way we can have the kind of order that exists in the universe without the coordination of a supreme being. That ended the discussion but I felt that was an opportunity for me to speak up for what I believed in.
In Colossians 4:5, Paul uses the word ‘opportunity’ again as translated in the NIV, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” The New King James Version translation reads, “ Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” One thing is clear from this verse, you cannot win souls without conversation. Our conversation should not just be limited to fellow believers but in our conversations with non believers, we are to pray for and look for the opportunity to let them know about the hope that we have and how they also can become partakers of that divine promise.
Wisdom dictates that we know what to say and when to say it. Our Lord Jesus spent most of His ministry time with sinners, using every opportunity to preach to them about the kingdom of God. This didn’t go down well with the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. They told his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:13-17) They found it absurd and an affront that someone regarded by many as a respected teacher of the scriptures, will sit in the company of those they regarded as the worst kind of sinners. Jesus replied them promptly, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
Paul also used the word ‘opportunity’ in his letter to the Galatians, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” We see here that God does not only give us opportunity to reach out to non Christians but we are encouraged to use every opportunity we get to do good to all but especially to those of the church family. Sometimes opportunities come to us but other times we are expected to place ourselves in position to see the opportunity that God gives to us to do good to our fellow brothers and sisters.
God gives us opportunities to witness for Him but it is our responsibility to take advantage of those opportunities as often as they come to us.
As begin each new day, let us pray and confidently look out for opportunities God will give us to speak to others about Him as well as take advantage of opportunities to do good to others. A simple “good morning” with a smile can make someone’s day. Letting that man or woman at the store buying one or two items to go before us to the till could make a difference in someone’s thought process.
God has prepared the hearts of the people. We just need to pray for opportunities and make sure that we utilise those opportunities when they are presented to us.