AS CHRISTIANS, we have an abundance of opportunities; but instead of pursuing our own rights, prosperity, and happiness, we have a higher calling. It’s summarized best in Luke 10:27:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
Each day we have opportunities, a calling from God, to demonstrate our whole-hearted devotion to God by loving and caring for those around us. Unfortunately, so many people are discouraged and burdened by the hardships and hurts of life. Many of God’s children long for a listening ear and helping hand, but sometimes we’re too busy to even notice, let alone sacrifice our time and effort to help.
To illustrate our responsibility to care for our neighbors, Jesus told a story about a man who was beaten and robbed on the way to Jericho (Luke 10:30-37). As he lay bleeding in the road, two religious leaders came upon him. Instead of seeing the situation as an opportunity to help, they each saw the injured man as an obstacle and detoured to the other side of the road. But a passing Samaritan felt compassion and was willing to interrupt his journey and expend time, energy, and financial resources to help the hurting traveler. What is really awe inspiring about this incident is that the Samaritan’s were segregated from the Jews at that time. (John 4:9; 8:48) In fact, the word Samaritan was an insult that the Jews used to refer to them. Yet a mistreated and discriminated person full of the Holy Spirit, stopped to help a man who constantly cursed his race.
A similar incident happened to me when I was preparing a sermon. I received a phone call from a woman who constantly made disparaging remarks about my race. She immediately started telling me about all of her troubles. As she continued speaking, I kept thinking about my sermon. I didn’t have time for this interruption, especially from an African American who constantly promulgated her distaste for my race. But suddenly I realized that although I was viewing this person as an obstacle to my own desires and as a person I did not like very well, God was giving me an opportunity to help someone in desperate need. I had a choice: would I be like the uncaring religious leaders or follow the example of the Good Samaritan? By being willing to go down this unexpected path of opportunity, God gave me the privilege of reuniting this young, prejudice and distressed woman with her estranged mother.
How do you respond to the opportunities the Lord puts in your path?
What about you? How do you respond to the opportunities the Lord puts in your path? They often come suddenly and may seem like inconveniences, annoyances, or hindrances. But to those who respond to them as God-given opportunities to demonstrate Christ’s love to the hurting, there is great joy. In reality, are you not more happier when you give your time and efforts by helping others rather than doing your own thing? How did Jesus feel about this subject?
In everything I have pointed out to you [by example] that, by working diligently in this manner, we ought to assist the weak, being mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, It is more blessed (makes one happier and more to be envied) to give than to receive.(Acts 20:35)
The way we respond to opportunities reveals several things about us. First of all, it shows whether Jesus is really the Lord of our lives (Phil. 2:3-5). If we’re too busy with our own plans and desires, we’re not letting our love for God and others be our guiding influence. However, by listening to the promptings of His Holy Spirit and releasing control of our schedules and plans to Him, we willl become sensitive to the opportunities He gives throughout the day—whether it’s giving an encouraging word to a friend, compassionately listening to a stranger’s troubles, or sharing the gospel with someone who’s searching for meaning in life.
Secondly, the way we respond reveals our willingness to give. The opportunities God provides are not always convenient. (Jonah 1:1, 2) They may require that we leave our comfort zone or give of our time, attention, effort, or finances to meet someone’s need. As Christians we’re called to become like Christ, and He always had time for people. Although His days were filled with interruptions, Jesus was never too busy to help those who needed His help. That’s because He came to earth to serve, not to be served (Matt. 20:28). His only agenda was to do the Father’s will each day.
Finally, our responses show whether we are using our spiritual gifts. Every believer has a motivating gift, a special ability given by the Holy Spirit, with which to serve others (1 Cor. 12:7). It could be the capacity to show mercy, a willingness to serve, or the desire to offer encouragement. Whatever our spiritual gifts are, as God provides occasions, we need to step up and use these gifts to make a difference in someone else’s life.
I encourage you, every day, to the take time to thank the Lord for the freedoms He’s given us in this land of opportunity. And don’t forget to pray for the brave men and women in the military who risk their lives to maintain our freedom. Then consider how you can represent Christ to a hurting world by taking time to listen to and help those in need. Ask the Lord for discernment to identify the opportunities He provides and the courage to step into them. My prayer is that you will discover the joy and blessing of becoming a Good Samaritan who sees needy people as opportunities, not obstacles.