Opportunity is an open door

What is opportunity? Have you ever taken the moment to think about it? It’s those common words that sometimes I’m not sure I actually know the definition of. Sometimes it’s the words you say all the time that you don’t know what they actually mean.

For me, I’ve always defined opportunity as the chance to accomplish something. Come to find out, that’s kind of what it actually means. So it’s nice to know my vocabulary is still hanging in there. But think about that. The Chance to Accomplish Something. Even including the word chance gives it an entirely new meaning. Because if you have to have a chance to accomplish something, that means you will encounter other times when you don’t have a chance.

Opportunity is a time when you are in a position to do something. It could be anything. Something huge and life altering. Something small and personal. Whatever. But one thing won’t change: Your opportunity doesn’t stick around forever.

You have a chance to do something at that moment, and if you don’t seize the moment, you might lose it. And you might never get it back.

Today’s verse is Galatians 5:13.

Open gate at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburg, Scotland, UK

Open gate at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburg, Scotland, UK

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

If you’ve made that all-important decision to follow Christ, every day you wake up is another opportunity. God gives us all sorts of chances to do all sorts of amazing things in a day’s time, but the question is, are we paying attention? Are we taking advantage of the opportunities God gives us?

I wish I could say I did. I wish I could tell you that I always jump at the opportunities God sends my way, but I don’t. Sometimes I hide from the opportunities He gives me because I’m afraid or because I’m relying on my own strength and knowledge. And that’s not how we’re supposed to live.

Say you’re walking down the street, and the person in front of you drops money. That’s an opportunity. That’s your chance to accomplish something. But what you accomplish is up to you. If you want to serve yourself, it’s your opportunity to steal, to knowingly take something that doesn’t belong to you. But if you want to please God, it’s your opportunity to help someone else and maybe even tell them about your faith.

That’s what opportunity is. It’s keeping your eyes open and seeing the open doors God has given you every moment of every day and choosing to walk through them for His glory and not for your own.

In America, we have freedom to do many things that other countries only dream of. We aren’t limited (generally speaking). We can roll out of bed one morning and decide to start a business, and if we have the finances or the credit to be able to do it, we can do it. Do you know how rare that is for other people?

But just because you have the freedom to do whatever you want doesn’t mean you can use it to do what is wrong. That’s where we slip up. We think because we’re free that we can do anything and everything. And maybe there’s truth to that, because you certainly can do whatever you want. As a Christ-follower, you can break every rule you can think of, and if you truly belong to God, He won’t cast you out. He won’t protect you from your consequences either. But you are free to do whatever you want.

So Paul is encouraging us to love each other instead of fighting with each other. You can use your freedom to do whatever you want, but why spend it hurting others? Why use your freedom to destroy relationships or ruin your physical health? Instead, use the freedom you have–make the most of your opportunities–to do good for others, to help others, to serve others in the name of Christ.

Those are the opportunities you should be taking. Those are the chances you should be seizing.

So the next time you see the open door of opportunity in front of you, what are you going to do? Sure, you can serve yourself. That’s what most people will do anyway. But if you really are a Christ follower, and you want to see Him do something amazing in your life and in the lives of other people, take that opportunity to serve someone else. Focus on someone else.

If you have the opportunity to help somebody, take it. And do it in the name of Christ. You’ll be amazed at what happens in your heart and in the hearts of the people you’re helping.

Homemade chicken yakisoba

The freedom to serve … or not

Following Christ is pretty awesome. There’s no other life like it because most other lifestyles are bogged down with religious ritual and obligations. Truly living like Christ, truly following God, is a freedom that no other “faith system” even tries to pretend it has.

The irony is that so many Christians don’t really understand the freedom they have, and they spend their lives trying to prove themselves to God by doing good works and demonstrating how good they can be. And there really isn’t anything wrong with that, I guess. But the fact remains that we can’t be good and we have nothing to prove to God. So why would we even try if we know it’s our faith that saves us? Maybe it’s because we’re all performance-driven people. I know I am.

On the other side of the fence, many people believe that we have to do something to earn our salvation because if God just gives out salvation without any expectation on our part, we can break all the rules we want with no punishment. We can do everything that’s wrong with no one to check our behavior. Well, that’s not right either. If you do something wrong, you’re going to have to face the consequences of that action whether you’re a believer or not. And while you may not lose your eternal salvation, you might lose the blessing you could have received if you had done the right thing. There are consequences for everything.

Homemade chicken yakisoba

Homemade chicken yakisoba

Today’s verse is Galatians 5:13.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Freedom is a terrible privilege, both in life and in faith. And it’s a tremendous responsibility.

Even in governmental systems, the more freedom a country has the more ethical its citizens need to be. Because there’s no government to keep them in check. We in the United States get all up in arms because our government has gotten to big and so powerful. Well, if we had all maintained our ethical and moral responsibility to be good citizens … it probably wouldn’t have been necessary.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a French historian who lived in the early-to-mid 1800s, said it best: “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

The same is true of our lives when we are set free by Christ. We can choose to live our new lives however we want. We can chase every selfish dream, every great ambition, everything anyone else in the world would pursue. Or we can choose to serve others.

The photo really doesn’t have much to do with the thought today, except that it’s a batch of homemade chicken yakisoba I made for some folks who came out to stay at my house some time ago. It didn’t turn out very well, I don’t think. But it looks pretty. And the concept behind it is somewhat relevant. God has given me a house, and He’s given me the resources to help other people. It’s my choice what to do with those resources, though. If I want to keep them all to myself, that’s fine. But what am I missing out on if I don’t share?

It all comes down to your eternal perspective. If you believe that this world is the pinnacle of our lives, then you’re going to live to get everything you can get out of this world. But if you believe that the best is yet to come, you’re going to live in a way that demonstrates that this world isn’t your home.

But even if you live for the life to come, you have to remember that we’re here for a reason. God put each of us where we are so we can learn something, so we can serve each other. We are supposed to live in a way that puts other people before us. We’re supposed to live in a way that honors others more than ourselves. We’re supposed to love the people who don’t understand us, who use us, who say terrible things about us. We’re supposed to serve people who hurt us and disappoint us and who we don’t agree with.

Hey, Christians! What would the people you disagree with think if you did something nice for them instead of grumbling behind their backs or giving them a hard time?

Serve people. Love people. Stand up and do what God says. You have the freedom to choose what you’re going to do today. You can choose how you react to what life (and Satan) throws at you today. Put yourself in the shoes of the people you disagree with. How would you like to be treated?