Rev. 3:8b … “Behold, have put before you an open door, which no one can shut.”
This statement of the Lord to the church in the city of Philadelphia in Asia Minor is perhaps the origin of the expression, “an open door of opportunity.” Observing that the Christians who composed this congregation possessed “a little power,” the Lord extended to them the opportunity to use it, though the text does not specify its nature. It suggests, however, that at least it involved the important matters of keeping God’s word, enduring persecution, and overcoming all spiritual opposition. And probably it involved much more.
The Scriptures often indicate that God opens doors of opportunity before His people, both as congregations collectively and as Christians individually. He expects us to recognize these “doors” and pass through them, that is, He looks for us to exercise the wisdom, faith, love, and strength to seize each of these opportunities and use it to the greatest good. He will grant us the requisite wisdom if we pray for it, (Jas. 1:5). The strength increases as we exercise ourselves in His service. The necessary faith is derived from devotion to the study of God’s word, (Rom. 10:17). And our love increases as we contemplate more and more the nature of God’s great love for us, (John 3:16; I John 4:19).
Opportunities are contingent upon time; they do not last indefinitely. When an opportunity is at its prime it is easiest to seize, and its outcome is most effective. With the passing of time, ranging from mere moments to months or years in some cases, the opportunity becomes progressively harder to seize, and its effects yield diminishing benefits. There comes the time when every opportunity is irretrievably lost. This was Jesus’ point when He said in John 9:4, “We must work the works of Him who sent me, as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” Our greatest duty in life is to reverence and obey God, (Eccl. 12:1), and He gives us the duration of life here as the opportunity to discharge it. This is what the Lord signified by the word “day.” When life ends, the next major event is “the judgment,” (Heb. 9:27). And that is what Jesus meant by the word “night.” In other words, there is no further opportunity to discharge our duty in death. Although our conscious existence continues beyond the grave in the Hadean world, it is not a time for making amends for what we failed to do in this life.
But while life here continues, as the climax of an opportunity passes, the degree to which it accomplishes good steadily declines until a point is reached where the action involved yields little, if any, benefit when applied. For example, if a Christian wants to try to reclaim an erring brother until that person’s heart is “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,” (Heb. 3:13), it may well become impossible to rescue him, (Heb. 6:4-6). Or consider the case of parents who are usually granted eighteen years to rear a child. While daily opportunities abound for them to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” (Eph. 6:4), parents are often oblivious to them. They are so busy building their careers and pursuing other personal interests that they neglect giving proper attention to their children. Rather than being taught the truth revealed from God and being instilled with values of eternal merit, children are distracted by parents to adopt the world view current in society. And this popular education leads only to eternal death, (Pro. 14:12). It is pathetic when someone tries to press an advantage of the past that no longer exists, or only barely continues. The beauty of a faded flower cannot be renewed. And it is indeed tragic when an expired opportunity robs a life of the meaning and glory that it could have had. The truly “good life” is the one that is vigilant for the appearance of each opportunity that appears on the horizon and then seizes it to press its advantages when it draws abreast of the forward progress of one’s life.