Friday, June 22, 2012

Opportunity Season Has Begun!

            Opportunity means “an appropriate or convenient time or occasion; a favorable position or chance.” How many times have we had opportunities to do something or to say something and not taken that time seriously? For myself, I know that to be true so many times in my life. Opportunities to talk to someone I barely know at church and get to know them, chances to talk to a hurting sister or fellow Christian in the faith. Opportunities come and then they go. We can either seize them or we can watch them go out the same door they came in.
                I say all of this to bring you to where the Lord God had me camping out today. Continuing in 2 Timothy, I came across Chapter 4, verse 2. Paul writes, “Preach the word! Be read in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” As I read those words, I pondered on the meaning of “in season and out of season.” What exactly was Paul trying to tell Timothy and what was the Lord trying to tell me today?
                To be “in season” can also be translated, “be instant”. It means “when the opportunity occurs.” There is that word again, opportunity. How many times throughout my day am I given an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus, or to help a brother or sister out, and I do not take it? Today, I believe the Lord is telling me to open my eyes and my heart to the many opportunities He gives me each day to serve Him. Serving Him not only at my church, or within my church body, but within my community, within my home, within my own family there are opportunities.
                Matthew Henry writes, “In season means when they are at leisure to hear you, when some special opportunity offers itself for you to speak to them with advantage.” Sitting around the dinner table, standing in the line at the grocery store, pumping gas in my car at the gas station, numerous other opportunities I have had to share Jesus with others, and I have let them go. But Paul is urging Timothy as well as us to not miss out on those opportunities, even when they don’t want to listen.
                Paul states to “be ready in season and out of season,” meaning be ready to speak to others when they want to hear it, and even when they don’t. One commentary I read said we are to be ready no matter what. We should be able to speak the word of God when it is easy, and when it is hard. He told a story about a preacher who was in season and out of season.
There was once a Church of England clergyman who was gloriously saved. When Jesus changed his life he started preaching the gospel to his whole parish and they all got saved. Then he started preaching in neighboring parishes, and the clergymen of those parishes were offended. They asked the bishop to make the man stop. When the bishop confronted him he said, “I hear you are always preaching and you don’t seem to be doing anything else.” The changed man answered, “Well bishop, I only preach during two seasons of the year.” The bishop said, “I’m glad to know that; what seasons are they?” He replied, “In season and out of season!”

You see, this preacher did not wonder if the people he was preaching and teaching were ready to hear, he just did what the Lord told him to do- he was ready in season and out of season.  We are all faced with opportunities everyday to “convince, rebuke, and exhort” our fellow humans with the Word of God. Not a day goes by that we do not have the opportunity, the chance to tell others. But the question is not whether or not we see these opportunities, the question is do we take full advantage of them when they happen?
                Matthew Henry went on to say that “we must do it in season, that is, let no opportunity slip, and out of season, not shifting the duty under the pretense that it is out of season.” Basically, we have a chance and an opportunity every single day to tell others about the love of Jesus Christ, and the good news of His death and resurrection. We have an order from the Lord Jesus Christ to be ready in season and out of season. Whether the conditions are favorable or not so favorable, good or bad, we have been given the chance to proclaim Him to others.
                The lesson that I needed to learn today is to stop making excuses and start doing what He is calling me to do.  I miss these opportunities to share Him because I am too wrapped up in my own little world. I want to serve Him in every way possible, it is my heart’s desire to be like Paul, and the other apostles, who were constantly sharing and convincing, and rebuking and exhorting their fellow humans in the ways of God. To do this, I have to be ready, in season and out of season. No matter what happens, no matter how grim the situation looks, there is always, always an opportunity to share Christ with those around us. I know I don’t want to miss out on those opportunities anymore.
                Lord, open my eyes to see the needs of those around me as You see them. Let not my fear stop me from sharing Your love with those whom You place in my path. Prepare my heart and my hands to be ready, in season and out of season, for Your glory, forever and ever. Amen.