BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Eph 5:16 says, “Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days” (NLT). God’s Word Translation says, “Make the most of your opportunities because these are vile days.”
In this scripture, there are two concepts I want to call your attention to. One is positive and the other negative. They are “doing good” and “evil days.” Whereas doing good represents the positive, evil days represents the negative. But that scripture shows the two forces that operate on earth. God stands for good, and the devil stands for evil. Until the tenure of the devil is over here on earth, he must continue with evil work but despite that, good will still be in operation. Good will not surrender to evil.
So Eph 5:16 tells you to prepare to make the most of every opportunity to do good notwithstanding the evil that may be pervasive. The pervasive evil should not be any excuse for you not to do good.
This also applies to every department of your life, your ministry, your business, your career, your destiny, etc. There may be evil, problems, challenges, etc, but you must determine to make the most of your opportunities. Don’t fold your arms and let opportunities pass you by.
There will be open doors but there will also be challenges around them. Take advantage of the opportunities while you attend to problems that are associated with them. Paul said, “Because a wide door for effective service has opened to me [in Ephesus, a very promising opportunity] and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor 16:9, Amplified Bible). Don’t lose your wide open doors because of the many adversaries. Greatness does not come because the journey is smooth.
Four truths on making the most of your opportunities
1. Consider now your best time. Some people are fond of backward looking and backward talking. They’re either talking about the good old days when things were better or they’re wishing that they had been around in those good old days they’ve been told life was easier and opportunities were plenty. But whether it is true or not such periods existed in the past, it’s a waste of time brooding over such because the past is gone and is gone.
Face the reality of the moment you’re in. Accept the season you’re living in now and embrace the opportunities it offers. This is your generation, and this is the time for you to arise, shine; this is the season your light is meant for; the glory of Jehovah God is just about to rise upon you (Isa 60:1). You can’t rewind the hand of the clock. Eccl 7:10 says, “Don’t long for ‘the good old days,’ for you don’t know whether they were any better than today” (NLT).
There are others who do nothing today because of their belief that tomorrow will be better than today. But the truth is that as you lay your bed so you’re going to sleep on it. It’s what you do today that determines the type of tomorrow you’ll have. Actually there is nothing like tomorrow because when it comes we call it today. Today is the yesterday you spoke about. Today is your best day, your best week, your best month, your best year. This is the right attitude to have rather than engaging in wishful thinking. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11, NKJV). Face today; make the most of its opportunities, and you’ll be creating a glorious tomorrow for yourself.
2. Avoid procrastination. As it is often said, procrastination is the thief of time. But beyond that, procrastination is the thief of destiny. Don’t postpone till another time or day what you should do today. Make hay when the sun shines. “Jesus said, ‘No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day’” (Luke 9:62, TM). Many, by procrastinating, have missed their opportunities. In Jer 46:17, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is described as a “loudmouth who missed his opportunity!” (NLT). You won’t miss your opportunities in Jesus’ name.
Felix, the Roman Governor of Judea was also guilty of procrastination. He was quite familiar with Christianity (The Way) before Paul was arraigned before him, but he didn’t take the necessary decision to give his life to Jesus. When Paul made his defence before him, he had another opportunity but procrastinated and adjourned the hearing. Instead of asking Paul to lead him to Christ, the Bible says he was holding private sessions with Paul hoping to receive bribe from him. “As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified. ‘Go away for now,’ he replied. ‘When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.’ He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him” (Acts 24:25-26, NLT). There is no record in the Bible that he ever got saved. He lost his office thereafter and was succeeded by Porcius Festus. But that is not to say that other governors were saved.
3. Avoid laziness and excuses. Laziness and excuses are twins. Laziness doesn’t make people do anything or doesn’t make them do enough. If you don’t want to do anything in life, you’ll have enough excuses to give. Therefore if you’ll make the most of your opportunities, you must overcome laziness and giving excuses. “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!’” (Prov 22:13, NKJV). What an excuse! The lion only exists in his imagination. Prov 26:13-16 tells us more about the lazy: “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!’ As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed. The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly” (NKJV).
Hard work or diligence is constant in any equation of success in life. According to Lam 3:27, “It is good for someone to work hard while he is young” (NCV). Why? Because the glory of young men is their strength (Prov 20:29). Why should a young person waste away his youthful strength in unproductive ventures?
Prov 12:24 says, “The diligent will get the upper hand but the slothful men will end as serfs” (Moffatt Translation). Hard work will give the diligent upper hand in life, and the lazy will become slave to the diligent. Prov 13:4 also says, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich” (NKJV). Success doesn’t come by dreaming only. After you’ve dreamt, you must set out to execute your dream. “The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession” (Prov 12:27, NKJV). Devote yourself to hard work; don’t let laziness steal your opportunities. “Be sure to stay busy and plant a variety of crops, for you never know which will grow — perhaps they all will” (Eccl 11:6, NLT).
Paul said when he came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord gave him “tremendous opportunities” (2 Cor 2:12, NLT). But that is all the Lord would do. It was his responsibility to take advantage of these tremendous opportunities. If he liked, he could make excuses why he couldn’t do what he should do. Laziness and excuses are part of the reasons people waste “tremendous opportunities.” Be alert.
In Col 4:3, Paul also said, “Don’t forget to pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to preach about his secret plan — that Christ is also for you Gentiles” (NLT). It is one thing to pray for opportunities and another thing to fully utilize them. You must ensure that you don’t frustrate the opportunities that God brings to you in answer to prayer.
4. Don’t concentrate on the problem; focus on the opportunities. A lot of people don’t make the most of their opportunities because they’re looking for a perfect condition. Unfortunately, there is no perfect condition. Every good opportunity also comes with its own challenges.
Most businesses which yield high returns also come with high risks. The birth of a new baby is always a joyous moment but the process of child birth also has the probability of complications. The risk of complication shouldn’t discourage couples from having children. The best attitude to have is to trust God and the health care professionals to manage the process well so that the outcome will be a desirable one.
Don’t let the problems associated with the opportunities discourage you from seizing your opportunities. Eccl 11:4 says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (NLT). If you want to possess your Promised Land, you must realize that the giants are already there, and you will have to contend with them to possess it. If you’re afraid to fight the giants, you’re just day dreaming about possessing your Promised Land. “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor 16:9, NKJV).
Conclusion: You should prepare for your God-given opportunities and utilize them because poor preparation precedes poor performance. According to Roman philosopher Seneca, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” As you go out each day be sensitive to your opportunities for as rightly said by columnist Ann Landers “opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” When you prepare, divine opportunities come your way; when you prepare, you orchestrate and provoke divine opportunities.
May be you missed some opportunities in the past or wasted them, don’t brood over that. All hope is not lost for you. Ask God for forgiveness and His mercy. God, in his mercy, will open new doors of opportunities for you again, and ensure you make the most of them. It shall be well with you in Jesus’ name.
If you’re not born again, I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May the Lord make you a Cedar Christian. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523