Grasp the Opportunity
In days when it is increasingly difficult to have people come into gospel meetings, the need for personal witnessing is great. The notes which follow are designed to assist those who want to use every opportunity to speak to others about the gospel. The approach can be summed up as:
G - Grasp the opportunity (Est 4.14)
O - Open a conversation (Jn 4.7)
S - Swing to spiritual things (Acts 17.23)
P - Present the Word of God (Acts 10.36)
E - Engage the conscience (Acts 26.27)
L - Leave the issues with God (Eccl 11.6).
Note three verses which bring before us some of the occasions in Scripture where the word "opportunity" occurs. These highlight opportunities that are ahead of us, those that are behind us, and those that are all around us. It is interesting that these fall into three basic categories.
Those we seek
"And from that time he sought opportunity" (Mt 26.16). It is Judas, sad to say, of whom we read that "he sought opportunity", that is he was pro-active in seeking an opportunity to do evil and wrong. The world in general is much quicker to take up, plan, and search out opportunities to do wrong and evil than we are as Christians to look for opportunities to do good. We are reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus: "The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light" (Lk 16.8). One area where this is very evident is in the area of actively creating and planning opportunities to do good.
Those that we lacked
"But ye lacked opportunity" (Phil 4.10).
We also have here opportunities that are past. These did not present themselves. The Philippians were willing but the opportunities did not come their way.
Those we have
"As we have therefore opportunity" (Gal 6.10).
This brings us to the present. "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men". Now we want to focus primarily on the truth in this verse for we could spend a lot of time considering opportunities in the past that we have missed, those we have lacked, as well as those we might have had, and we could lament over these missed and past opportunities. However, forgetting those things that are past, let us consider the opportunities that we have according to Galatians 6.10. We can do nothing about the past, it is gone and will never return. In fact there are three things that never come back:
The spoken word. Once it is said it cannot be recalled no matter how much we would like it to be.
Time. Once gone it can never be recaptured, even though we would dearly want to turn back the clock.
Opportunities. Once they are past we can never retrieve them for another endeavour.
What we want to consider are opportunities that are in the present and that we have available to us. We want to encourage ourselves to grasp them and use them to do good to all men.
There are many passages of Scripture that would speak of opportunities without mentioning the word itself. We note several of them in reading through the book of Acts.
Pentecost (2.1-36). The multitude came together, saw what had taken place, and were in doubt. God created the opportunity. Peter took the opportunity to speak.
The lame man (3.1-9). Once again all the people came, greatly wondering (v.11). God created the opportunity. Peter saw the opportunity to heal.
The Ethiopian (8.26-40). Philip came across a man in his chariot reading the Scriptures with interest. What an opportunity! God created that opportunity and Philip grasped it.
The house of Cornelius (10.1-48). Peter went to a Gentiles house and found them all ready to hear the Scriptures. Another marvellous God-given opportunity, which Peter seized.
The damsel at Philippi (16.16-18). We think of Paul on his journeys, never missing an opportunity. As Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke went to pray they came across a girl with the spirit of divination. A chance meeting as we might call it, yet Paul used that opportunity to do good, and he suffered for it, being imprisoned on account of what took place.
In prison (16.25-40). Now one might think that there would be few opportunities in a prison, but we see how Paul and Silas used the occasion to sing and praise God. What a wonderful end there is to that passage with the jailor and his whole house being saved.
There are also many verses that encourage us in the theme of being ready for and grasping opportunities as they arise. For example: "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you" (1 Pet 3.15); "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Eph 5.16); "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" (Col 4.5).
We are encouraged in these verses to be ready to grasp timely opportunities as they arise. These are all around us in everyday life. Every circumstance, situation, or problem that comes into our lives can be looked on either as a big problem or as a big opportunity to serve God in whatever way is appropriate. I came across this quotation lately: "We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as great problems". I think that is a good quotation because opportunities are seen in circumstances, situations, and problems in the lives of people who come into our lives. Seeing the opportunity is a matter of spiritual perception. One man looks and sees only the problem, but another can see an opportunity for the Lord. When you are looking for opportunities they can appear at any time, in any place, in any chance meeting, circumstance, or conversation. It may be at a bus stop, in a queue, in the corridor, or just walking down the street and meeting someone you have not seen for a long time. Every day we are all faced with a series of great opportunities that are brilliantly disguised.
Now I can hear you say, "Where are all these opportunities and why dont I see them?". In the next article we will seek to answer that question.
To be continued