Do we look for opportunities to build God’s kingdom in the daily moments of our lives? In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, “Be very careful, then, how you live – making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16) He goes on to say that we need to understand what the Lord’s will is in every situation.
Surely our day, with beheadings in the Middle East, the disregard for human life in the sale of aborted baby body parts, and the random shootings in schools, theaters and churches, is no less evil than what Paul saw in his day. Nor is our need to seize opportunities to serve God and build his kingdom any less.
The key, Paul says, is to be wise and understand God’s will. This requires a mindset always to be asking what his will in every situation is, particularly with the people in our lives — family, work colleagues, friends and strangers.
These opportunities are often unexpected. Once I was at lunch with a work colleague who started to share how he was estranged from his wife. He was feeling bad for some things he had done and was angry over her response. I just listened as he uncharacteristically shared his emotion over the crisis in their relationship. Though we were in a public restaurant with other patrons close by, I reached across the table, took hold of his arm and prayed that God would give him the courage and grace to reach out to his wife, and that they would both open their hearts to forgiveness and reconciliation.
While I never learned the details, they did subsequently reconcile. In reflecting on the moment, I believe God’s grace prompted me to say the prayer and use it to soften hearts and bring an end to this estrangement.
When someone expresses a need or lets us know that they are hurting, alarm bells should go off alerting us to an opportunity to be and bring God’s presence into the situation. As Paul suggests, our first reaction should be to understand God’s will. “What do you want me to do and say, Lord?”
Jesus encouraged us to “let your light shine before men.” (Mt. 5:16) He seized countless opportunities to heal a cripple, give sight to the blind, expel a demon, open the ears of the deaf and even raise the dead to demonstrate that the kingdom of God was at hand.
The Book of Acts reports that Peter and John did not pass by a crippled beggar as they entered the temple, but similarly seized the opportunity to demonstrate that the kingdom of God was at hand by commanding the beggar to stand and walk.
Are we recognizing the opportunities God places before us each day to be and bring his presence to the people and circumstances of our lives?