by Micky Galloway
When we lived in Arkansas, the many opportunities we had to see huge fields of cotton gave new meaning to this expression. Try to imagine 400 acres of cotton, a literal sea of white, ready to be harvested. The Lord said, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:35). The apostle Paul expressed the same thought when he spoke of an "open door" and a "door of utterance" (1 Corinthians 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Colossians 4:3). John wrote of the "open door" which no man can shut (Revelation 3:8).
Opportunity "knocks"; it does not beat down the door. As we drive into the Antelope Valley and stop at Vista Point to view the valley, we are reminded of opportunity. Living in this valley are approximately 300,000 souls who need to hear the gospel. This writing concerns our many opportunities to teach God's Word and our preparation and determination to take advantage of these opportunities. Christianity is not a dead belief; it is a vibrant way of life that deeply affects the standards by which we conduct our lives. A part of that conduct deals with our consciousness that those about us are lost.
Let us pray for an "open door." The apostle Paul asked the Colossians to pray for him, "that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ" (Colossians 4:3). It is right to pray for opportunities. Perhaps, our inability to realize that we live in a "lost and dying world," and our apathy to praying about it, are the very reasons conditions are not more favorable for the growth of the church. James said, "the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). Fervently praying for opportunity means ridding oneself of fear about the responsibilities associated with open doors. To accomplish this goal, we must prepare.
We need to get past "me-ism" (concern only with ourselves). Too many of us focus so entirely upon ourselves--"me first"--that we fail to see opportunities, and therefore, to act when they abound. Paul said some would become "lovers of self" (2 Timothy 3:2). Yet, the same apostle taught that we are to "bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, unto edifying" (Romans 15:1-2). Even among brethren, there is opportunity to teach. Paul said, "Let no man seek his own, but (each) his neighbor's (good)" (1 Corinthians 10:24). Paul also said, "Not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others" (Philippians 2:4). Wouldn't that go a long way toward helping us to teach others. We have a wide-open "door" of opportunity to restore those who are wayward (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).
Let us believe in the gospel, God's power to save. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16). In a world that held the gospel in contempt, Paul, under threat of persecution, preached it boldly. Paul had seen the gospel at work, first among the Jews, and then among the Greeks. "The words of eternal life" are "living and active" (Hebrews 4:12). The gospel is ever relevant, and it can transform our neighbors, if they receive it and realize that it is the revelation of God. Every conversion example in the book of Acts bears evidence of this truth. Indeed, we have in our possession God's power to change lives, but our failure to proclaim it results in continued ungodly living that sends people to hell!!! Jesus commanded, "Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby" (Matthew 7:13-14).
On the broad way that leads to destruction will be someone's mother, father, grandparent, friend, neighbor, or coworker. In that great Day of Judgment, will they say, "You met me day by day, and knew I was astray, yet never mentioned Him to me."
Let us be aware of the unconverted. Masses of souls are hungering and thirsting for the truth. Many question their religious convictions. They know they are at sea, without chart or compass. WE have great opportunity. Indeed, the fields are white unto harvest, and the laborers are so few. In Acts 8, those who were scattered as a result of the persecution, "went about preaching the word." Until we understand that the success of personal work depends on each one personally working, opportunities will continue to fall by the wayside.
Reaping a harvest of lost souls can not occur by accident. Let us prepare ourselves for the greatest work on earth. Someone has said that the four hinges upon which the gates of opportunity swing are: initiative, insight, industry, and integrity. Surely, we have integrity, but what about the other three. Let us not forget that procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.
Every gospel preacher who is doing the work the Lord called Him to do is looking for ways to impress the truth of this article upon those in the congregation where he labors. The world is replete with people who are lost and dying in darkness and sin. Every community in which the Lord's church has "open doors" also has great "opportunity doors."
Millions of people live their lives without spiritual direction. Millions of others have been deceived by the smooth words of men who teach error. Both groups (those without direction and those with the wrong direction) are on a road that leads to the same destination -- Hell! "In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9). Do we even think about the terrible ending awaiting the unprepared? Many of them are people we know, and love, and talk with daily.
Dear reader, please read your Bible carefully. I think you'll conclude that God not only expects us to save ourselves, but also to strive to bring others with us! Who are you bringing?
"Then He said to His disciples, the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:36-37). Can God Count on You?