OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            One of the definitions that Webster gives of “opportunity” is “a good chance for advancement or progress.”  With regard to the church atOceanSide, opportunity is what the leadership is trying to provide each and every member.  Bible classes, worship services, programs, and scheduled events are designed to give members a chance to advance and progress in the Lord’s kingdom.  It is disturbing to see a host of Christians who fail to take advantage of the opportunities that are provided for them.  In this article, we want to look at the subject, “Lost Opportunities.”

            There are numerous Bible examples of people who failed to take advantage of the opportunities they were given.  One such person was Lot’s wife.  The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had become contaminated with sin due to the widespread practice of homosexuality.  God pronounced the sentence of destruction upon the practitioners of evil.  However, Lot and his family were given the opportunity to escape.  The angels of God spoke to Lot and his family, saying:  “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Gen. 19:17).  As Lot and his family fled, Lot’s wife made a fatal mistake.  “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:26).  This woman lost her opportunity to live.  She missed the opportunity of being with her family.  She missed the opportunity of being pleasing unto God.  Her longing for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah cost her her life.  Each of us would do well to remember the Lord’s words found in Luke 17:32:  “Remember Lot’s wife.”

            Another example of a lost opportunity is recorded in Matthew 19.  A young man approached Jesus with a very important question.  “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16).  Jesus listed a number of commandments required by God.  “The young man said unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up:  what lack I yet?  Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:  and come and follow me” (Matt. 19:20-21).  It was at this point the young man failed to take advantage of the opportunity given to him, an opportunity to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.  “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful:  for he had great possessions” (Matt. 19:22).

            A final example for this lesson is seen in a man named Judas Iscariot.  Judas was among the twelve men chosen to be apostles of Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:1-4).  For 3-1/2 years he sat at Jesus’ feet.  He witnessed the wonders and signs done by the Son of God.  He was poised to assist in taking the gospel to the lost throughout the world.  He may have been numbered with those who gave their lives for the cause of Christ.  Judas, however, had a weakness.  Covetousness ate away at his heart.  For thirty pieces of silver, he betrayed his Lord.  His heart hurt when his plans did not go as he had hoped.  When Jesus was condemned, Judas returned the coins and went out and hanged himself (Matt. 27:3-5).  In Acts 1, Peter is seen standing before the disciples speaking to them about Judas.  In verse 17, he says:  “For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.”  Peter, here, speaks of the opportunity given to Judas to be an ambassador of Christ.  Judas lost his opportunity.  In Acts 1:25, Peter asserted that Judas “by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.”

            Each of these examples brings sadness and hurt to our hearts.  A woman lost her life.  A young man did not follow Jesus.  Judas lost his position among the apostles.  Each person had opportunity staring him/her in the face, but lost the opportunity given to him.  Some within the church are much like these Bible examples.  They have the opportunity given to them to strengthen their home through Bible classes provided by the church, but they will not come.  They have opportunities in worship to show God how much they love and appreciate His goodness toward them, but they do not attend.  They have opportunities to show their love for their brethren within the visitation program, but they are not a part.  They have opportunities to learn and grow in seminars and gospel meetings, but they refuse to be a part.  Again, to think about the opportunities these individuals are missing brings sadness and hurt to our hearts.

            Failing to take advantage of opportunities is serious business.  It is serious because once an opportunity is gone it may never be presented again.  If one fails to comfort a sister in Christ who has lost her husband, that opportunity will not come again.  If one is not present to hear a vital message from the Word of God that opportunity will never come again.  If one fails to see a person baptized into Christ, he can never see that conversion again.  If a person refuses to accept a position or work within the church, it may never be offered again.  Not all opportunities come two or three times.  Some opportunities are one-time offers.

            Failing to take advantage of an opportunity is also serious because it may involve one in sin.  When a person intentionally stays home from the worship services, he is forsaking the assembly (Heb. 10:25).  When one will not teach, or preach, or serve as an elder or deacon, he is not using the talents that God has given him in order to prosper the Lord’s kingdom (Matt. 25:14-30).  When one fails to visit, he does not comfort, restore, rebuke, and encourage his brothers and sisters (James 1:27; Gal. 6:1-2; Rom. 12:15; I Cor. 12:25-26).  Yes, there are some lost opportunities that bring sin to the lives of those who pass them by (See Luke 10:30-37).

            Within the kingdom of Christ, opportunities abound for every citizen.  We exhort every member to grasp these opportunities with great passion.  Not only will the church be benefited, but you will also advance as a child of God.  This writer is reminded of Saul of Tarsus.  When the opportunity arose for him to convert to Christ and become an apostle of Jesus, he seized it and never let go.  The church was definitely blessed.  Do you think Paul every regretted his decision?