Usually when we think opportunity is knocking it is because circumstances have been arranged in such a way to make a certain situation positive. In God’s economy that is often not the case. Opportunity knocks the best on a closed door, and it is in these negative situation that God provides us with our greatest opportunities.
That was certainly the case for the apostle Paul who found himself in a Roman prison. The amazing thing is that Paul didn’t let his chains stop him from using the opportunity God sent his way, in the form of his prison guards. Paul seized the opportunity and reached out to the only people he had contact with. If we are going to step out in faith and make the most of the lives God has blessed us with then we need to reach out to the people around us.
The second action of faith we need to do in order to make the most of our God given opportunities is to ENCOURAGE people.
14 Moreover, because of my imprisonment most of the brothers have been made confident in the Lord to speak God's word more boldly and courageously than ever before. 15 Some are preaching Christ because of their envy and rivalry, while others do so because of their good will. 16 The latter are motivated by love, because they know that I have been appointed for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition and without sincerity, thinking that they will stir up trouble for me during my imprisonment. (Philippians 1:14-17; ISV)
Paul, with his preaching, encouraged people. He probably encouraged some directly through teaching when they came to visit him in prison, and indirectly through reports they received about what Paul was doing in prison.
In a situation like this It would be so easy to get discouraged. Paul being the leader that he was realized that many Christ Followers would be discouraged to know that he was in prison. There was a risk to following Jesus in that place and Paul’s imprisonment made that danger real. So Paul continued to preach in chains and these other Christians who were discouraged discovered hope and encouragement in Paul’s actions. They once again took up the call and started to preach and teach about Jesus. Now some did it out of selfish motives, perhaps with the thought to replace Paul or to get other people to support them so they didn’t have to work so hard. Whatever the reason Jesus was being preached and people were being encouraged.
Depression and discouragement are out of control in this country. People need to have hope and they need to know that their lives have meaning. When we live lives of hope in bleak circumstances we become a beacon of hope to the people around us. When we encourage people with the Good News of forgiveness, mercy, grace, and salvation we offer people a source of hope that will help get them through the tough times.
The hardships of life provide us with the opportunity to encourage people and to offer them hope in the midst of the trials and tragedies of life. We can’t afford to become self-absorbed when the tough times hit, we have to see them for what they are: opportunities. Make the most of your difficulties and encourage someone else.
- Point to Ponder: The hardships of life provide us with the opportunity to encourage people and to offer them hope in the midst of the trials and tragedies of life.
- Passage to Remember: Philippians 1:14-17
- Question to Consider: Who was the last person you encouraged?