By Not Known
In our time-starved lives we want to squeeze the most from every moment. The Apostle Paul says … make the most of every opportunity (Col 4:5b). We may rejoice at this apparently shrewd advice in time management. This is all the more so when we hear that the word he uses for opportunity is the Greek word for special or opportune time. Seen this way, Paul is another coach urging another surge of greater time efficiency.
Not so fast! As Don Carson says, a text without a context becomes a pretext, and that is certainly so here.
Paul’s immediate concern is not general time-management but a prayer for the spread of the message of Jesus. This is for himself and also a concern that we readers make the most of our opportunities with outsiders to the faith (Col 4:3-6). It is neatly complemented by his word that … as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Gal 6:10 – same word for special time again).
This saying has both intentional and opportunistic aspects. We are to consider and plan how we can intentionally make the most of openings to do God’s good, and especially to bring God’s gospel to the people around us. We are also to be sensitive to opportunities that unexpectedly open up for such good.
Consider the examples of both Jesus and Paul. Jesus was intentional in his purposeful move towards Jerusalem and the words that he said at different times (eg Lke 9:51; Jn 12:23-27). Yet his was also open to the casual opportunities to do good and to speak a kingdom word when he went for a funeral, a meal or met people for a drink (eg Jn 4:4-10). Likewise Paul with his intentional strategy of moving between major centres in his missionary journeys but then also using the opportunity of being in prison to speak for Jesus (eg Acts 13:5-6; 28:16-23).
What openings do we have to do God’s gospel good in our everyday life? How can we best use these for God rather than squander them in trivialities?
Here’s something we can all do. Let’s sit down with a friend and look over our week. What are the typical situations we encounter and who are the people that we meet? How can we best use these to do good to people in God’s name? How can we use them to do the best good – which is to introduce people to Jesus and help them on the path to faith?
Our time is short. Let’s use it well for God.