The Value of Opportunity, and Our Obligation to Improve I
1 Kings 20:40
And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said to him, So shall your judgment be…

t: — How much wisdom was there in the charge of Pythagoras to his disciples: "Be mindful of opportunities"! We live in a world where all are busy. Many busy for themselves; many for the Church. All around us in nature is busy — full of action. All in commerce and life says — "Do something, do it." And in one sense all mankind do something, but many are busy without an object, a rule, or a motive, and consequently without a beneficial result. Their actions are made up by a collection of shreds and patches; they move in a circle, busy in moving, but arrive at the point whence they started — no progress, no attainment, no benefit is visible. Activity is the law or the habit, of the human mind, and never is mind easy but as it is in action; but without a suitable motive, rule, and end, can no degree of activity be of real benefit.


1. Opportunity is in some cases unmistakable; it presents itself and presses on us so plainly, that we must be blind if we will not see it, deaf if we will not hear it, dead if we will not regard it. It lies in our path, and we must push it out of our way, or pass over it to escape. If, however, it is not in our way, we should seek it. If the door is not open, we must open it. Where opportunity cannot be found, it must be made. What must be done can be done. Impossibilities are not insurmountable in real duties to God, to ourselves, or for others. It is admirable to see how a persevering mind creates opportunities, and lamentable to see how the timid pass them by.

II. I shall now give these remarks A PRACTICAL BEARING:. It is important to inquire — For what purpose did God create me? What is life? It is not a dream of pleasure, or it would not be a passage through a vale of tears. It is not a whirl of business, or it would have been lengthened and not doomed to loss and disappoinment, to the most devoted men of trade. God's end is more worthy of Himself; He has blessed you with such faculties for a great end, or, as John Howe says, "It would be like clothing a man in purple to send him to feed swine." Are all our faculties given to us to be employed on the wisdom which is "earthly, sensual, devilish," or for business or pleasure, or the honour which cometh from man? No, but for God, for gaining and enjoying heaven. Let us notice a few causes which operate to the neglect of what would ensure man's everlasting salvation.

1. Actual idleness — some are literally slumberers, nothing rouses them — "A little more sleep, a little more slumber," is all they utter.

2. Inconsiderateness is another cause — such are not careful or wise to use the power or cultivate the habit of reflection.

3. Frivolity of mind. Many are turned away from seeking salvation by what is as insignificant as the chirping of a grasshopper.

4. But not less fatal than these is that ruiner of thousands — procrastination. There is a world of importance in the monosyllable "now." Fortunes, blessings, and souls without number have been lost for want of minding this word "now." Duties cannot clash. God does not require two things which are opposed to each other of any man, at any time; but the language of God to you at this moment is this — "Now is THE accepted time," that is, the best opportunity. Some continue during the whole of life, from the dawn of reason to the feebleness and inactivity of its closing hours "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do," oh, living man! "do it with thy might" — do it, "for there is no device in the grave" — do it, for thither thou goest, and all your opportunity is confined to this world. True, there may be posthumous good, as seen in legacies and founded institutions, and books which survivors may not suffer to be lost when we are gone; but these things, so far as we are concerned in them, are done in this world.

2. Youth is the prime and flower of opportunity. Youth! Many of you hear and feel it to be the season of joy. Yes, it is best for piety too. Unencumbered by the cares of a master or father, your time is at your own disposal. Oh, now seek salvation. Suffer not the season of youth to pass, lest you in age say, I have lost my opportunity and cannot seek salvation now. Seek it with earnestness.

3. Health is an important opportunity to do good to others. What can an invalid do compared with the healthy? Such may do something. I would not add to their affliction by suggesting they cannot. God does not add to their sorrow by discharging them from all opportunity to do good.

(J. A. James.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it.

WEB: As your servant was busy here and there, he was gone." The king of Israel said to him, "So your judgment shall be; yourself have decided it."

The Parable of the Wounded Prophet
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