It has been written that when you have a chance to embrace an opportunity, give it a big hug. Some see an opportunity to embrace but others do not see any opportunity at all. The one who misses the opportunity deprives one’s self of the benefits which come from embracing it.
There were once two shoe salesmen who went to Africa to open new sales territories. Three days after they arrived, the first salesman faxed a message: “I will be returning on next plane. I can’t sell shoes here. Everyone goes barefoot all the time.”
There was no report from the second salesman for about two weeks. Then came a fat airmail envelope with this message for the home office. “Fifty orders enclosed. Prospects unlimited. Nobody here has shoes.”
Opportunities are in the eyes of the beholder. The second salesman saw what the first one didn’t see: potential prospects who needed shoes. The first salesman could only see the circumstances in a negative frame of mind. Therefore, his was a blown opportunity and a chance to achieve success. But the second salesman took advantage of the opportunity and created success. It’s like the saying, “No business opportunity is ever lost. If you fumble it your competitor will find it.”
In Luke 10, Jesus told a parable in which two respected persons blew an opportunity to help someone in desperate need. But there was another unlikely person who did see the opportunity and received a wonderful commendation for doing so.
The so-called, “Parable of the Good Samaritan,” is about a man who was attacked by robbers as he was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. The thugs tore his clothes, beat him severely, took what money he had, and left him for dead along the side of the road. A priest who was walking by saw the man but he passed by on the other side for he didn’t want to get involved. A Levite, a member of the Jewish tribe who assisted in temple worship, also passed by on the other side without lifting a finger to help the suffering man. But a Samaritan, a man who was despised by most Jews in those says, approached the man, felt compassion for him, and came to his aid. The good Samaritan picked him up, put him on his donkey, tended his wounds, took him to the city and even provided a place for him to stay at an inn. The Samaritan gave the innkeeper enough money for him to live, and even more if necessary, until he got better.
Jesus pointed out that the Samaritan was a true neighbor to the robbed man for he took the opportunity to help someone in a life-threatening situation. The other two didn’t use the situation as an opportunity for they didn’t care what happened to the unfortunate man. Therefore, they not only blew the opportunity to be the man’s neighbor, they also kept themselves out of the hope of receiving eternal life. Jesus said that the two greatest laws—loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself is the basis for inheriting eternal life: “Do this and you will live,” Jesus said (verses 25-37).
The Bible says that we should always take advantage of every opportunity to serve the Lord whenever it occurs (New American Standard Bible, NASB):
Galatians 6:10. “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
Ephesians 5:16. “… making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
Colossians 4:5. “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.”
When these opportunities arise, we can expect God’s blessings. A close look at the context of these verses will show that we will reap eternal life as we sow from the Spirit (Gal. 6:8-10); we will be walking in wisdom to do the will of God (Eph. 5:15, 17); and our communication will be constructive and effective (Col. 4:6). On the other hand, if we blow these opportunities, we miss the chance not only to reap these blessings but jeopardize our own relationship with God as well as others (cp. James 5:19-20).
We think of those in the Bible who did not use the opportunities God gave them and the bad results that followed afterwards:
+Adam and Eve brought the curse of sin upon us all instead of taking the opportunity of obeying God’s command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
+Cain blew the opportunity of presenting the right offering to God and, instead, presented the kind for which God did not regard. Cain became angry and jealous of his brother, Abel, whose offering was favored by God. Cain then murdered Abel in cold blood thus bringing on God’s curse upon Cain.
+In Noah’s day, the people of the world blew the opportunity to heed Noah’s warning that a flood was coming on them due to their wickedness but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord so that he and his family were the only ones saved in the Ark.
+Whenever Israel blew the opportunity to serve the one, true God and, instead, followed the pagan idols of the other nations, they suffered defeat, disaster, and dispersion.
+When Judas blew the opportunity of following the Lord and sold his salvation for thirty pieces of silver, he ended his life and his hope.
+When the rich young ruler did not take the opportunity of selling all he had and give to the poor, he went away depressed and deprived of the joy of the Lord and his eternal inheritance.
These are just some examples of blown opportunities and what they led to. It will be a bitter, sad day when judgment comes and many will face the awful news that they will not be able to receive the reward of eternal life and enter God’s everlasting Kingdom because they blew the opportunity of believing in him and following the Lord Jesus Christ when they had the chance (Luke 13:27-28). There will even be those who believed they took the opportunity to do good things for Christ but it was out of wrong motives and intentions so they will be rejected come Judgment Day (Matt. 7:21-23). There will be many who had the opportunity to give their lives to Christ but blew it by not accepting him as Lord and Savior and, instead, lived according to the sinful ways of the world thinking they were okay (John 5:39-40; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8).
To prevent blown opportunities such as these, we take the opportunity of giving our lives entirely over to the Lord Jesus Christ starting through faith, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:38-39). Through Christ, we seek the Lord’s will as we make our decisions and strive to live in the wisdom and power of God according to his grace. Our ultimate aim is to be counted as the “sheep” who took the golden opportunity of conversion through Christ and not the “goats” who did not choose this opportunity (Matt. 25:31-46).
Here is an opportunity to be inspired in song by Prodigal Apostles singing, “Eternally”: http://youtu.be/bR5CQDNy5fY
Good News to YOU!