When “opportunity knocks,” what is our reaction? Sometimes we are fearful. Sometimes we ignore it. Sometimes we do not even realize it is present. Unfortunately, opportunities do not always return when missed. Let us learn about opportunity from Paul’s statement to the Corinthians:
But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).
The word “door” is often used as a metaphor for opportunity (Acts 14:27; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:8).
First, when opportunities come, we must make plans accordingly. Paul was willing to continue in Ephesus where the opportunity presented itself. “Pentecost” no longer carried a religious connotation for Paul, but it was a good way of marking the time of year. He would continue working in Ephesus until late spring or early summer before visiting Corinth. The reason why some Christians miss spiritual opportunities and corresponding plans to take advantage of them is they are too focused on things of this world (Matthew 13:22; Romans 12:2). The best way, then, to recognize spiritual opportunities is to be spiritually minded (Colossians 3:1-2; Romans 8:5-8). When recognized, we can make plans with God in mind (James 4:13-15).
Second, opportunities to save or to edify souls, including our own, are worth every effort. The words “great” [“wide,” NAS] and “effective” [“effectual,” KJV] indicate that Paul’s opportunity in Ephesus was tremendous. In fact, the word translated “effective” means active and powerful. It is the same word from which the English word “energy” derives. Sometimes, Christians squander opportunities because they are not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to take advantage of them (Matthew 25:1-13). However, we must realize that no matter the temporary sacrifice, the eternal blessings are worth it (Romans 8:18)!
Third, opportunities often come with obstacles. Paul had “many adversaries.” These adversaries stood against Paul as he served the Lord. The opposition against Paul in Ephesus is well documented (Acts 19:21-40; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10), but by God’s grace, he was still very successful (Acts 19:1-20)! Christians today also face opposition when they take advantage of spiritual opportunities (Matthew 5:10-12; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12-16). In order to do our best for the Lord, we must neither fear the opposition (Philippians 1:28) nor give “opportunity to the adversary” (1 Timothy 5:14).
There is so much opportunity for Christians to grow in the Lord. Let us take advantage of each opportunity and give ourselves to His service!
The Laborer, Yukon Church of Christ Weekly Bulletin, May 19, 2019.