There is an old saying; opportunity only knocks once. I’m not sure that the statement is true, but there is some wisdom in the unspoken message it carries. When an opportunity presents itself, take action. I have to confess that I am often slow on the uptake. Before I realize that I have been presented with an opportunity, the door has closed.
God opens the door of opportunity for us multiple times every day. Many of these opportunities seem small at the time, and so it is easy to miss them. They fly by and then, after the fact, we think, I should have said this or done that, but it is too late. I am speaking from personal experience.
Paul understood the importance of keeping our eyes open to the opportunities we have to be ambassadors for Jesus. He mentions this concept in both Ephesians and Colossians.
Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6
Paul highlights three aspects of what it means to take advantage of the opportunities we encounter.
Be wise in the way we live our lives. It is not trite to remind ourselves that our actions speak so much louder than our words. Whether we realize it or not, people are watching us. They are watching how we conduct ourselves at work, in the community and at home. Their opinion of us is formed long before we get the chance to engage them in conversation.
Be wise in the way we interact with unbelievers. Paul says that our conversation needs to be filled with grace and seasoned with salt. Christians today are characterized as stiff, joyless and contrary. We can change that image by being people of grace. We can show grace by being quick to help others, quick to encourage others, and quick to forgive others. When we treat other people with respect and compassion, we can make a positive impression.
In addition, we need to engage unbelievers in such a way that they become thirsty for what we have. The idea of seasoning our conversation with salt carries at least two important concepts. Salt makes food taste better. Our conversation should make the Gospel attractive, not repulsive. Salt also makes us thirsty. That is why the popcorn at movie theaters is usually over-salted. Our lives need to make others thirsty to know what makes us tick.
Be ready to act. This is the place where we often fail. The thing that holds us back is fear. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of being rejected. Fear of offending. Fear of being dismissed or laughed at. Fear is a powerful de-motivator. We need the courage to live counter-cultural lives; to stand out in a crowd in a good way. If we take the risk to speak and act in God-honoring ways, there will be those who respond negatively, but there will also be those who respond positively. In these evil days, more than ever, we need to courageously stand for the cause of Christ.