The Responsibility of Opportunity
Matthew 10:13, 14
And if the house be worthy, let your peace come on it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.…

This direction may be stated in a plain way thus: "Give every man a chance, and let it rest with him whether he takes advantage of it." Moral work can never be done by force. Persuasion of will there should be; constraint of will there should never be. The gospel is to be preached, proclaimed, heralded, to all nations, but it must rest with men themselves whether it shall prove to them a "savour of life unto life, or of death unto death." Here our Lord gives a great missionary law. Keep men's responsibility for moral decisions. Put the truth before them. Speak the message to them. Use all persuasion with them. But if they will not receive your words, pass on to those who will.

I. EVERY MAN HAS HIS MORAL OPPORTUNITY, Just as every man, sooner or later, gets his life-chance. This is enshrined in the familiar Shakesperian sentence about "a tide in the affairs of men." In business matters we often say, "He lost his chance." The story of heart-experiences would probably reveal that every man, once at least in his life, stood on the very threshold of the kingdom, and decided whether he would or would not step across. Men's condemnation is this - the gate of the kingdom was opened for you, and you would not enter in.

II. IT IS OUR DUTY TO PROVIDE MORAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR FELLOWS. This we do by preaching the gospel to them; by personal influence and persuasion. God makes man his agent, "co-worker together with him," in making supreme moral opportunities for his children. This is the responsibility of the regenerate.

III. THE MAN HIMSELF MUST DEAL WITH THE OPPORTUNITY. As is illustrated in the passage, the apostle may come to a man's door, and his asking hospitality may be the man's opportunity; but the man must decide whether he will let the apostle in. There must be no dealings with men which even seem to weaken the sense of personal moral responsibility. A common saying illustrates this -

"If you will not when you may,
When you will you shall have nay."

IV. OUR OBLIGATION IS ENDED IN PROVIDING THE OPPORTUNITY. We are responsible for skilfully providing it; for wisely following it up, and for persistently renewing our effort to present it. But we are not responsible for results following. The man must bear them. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

WEB: If the household is worthy, let your peace come on it, but if it isn't worthy, let your peace return to you.

The Peaceful Salutation
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