Some people say that they have not lived a successful life because they have been given fewer opportunities than others. However, the reason they say so is probably because they do not carefully look at the circumstances that surround them and fail to understand the providence of God who is fair and impartial. Actually they are given many opportunities, but most of them do not consider them as the opportunities and lose them indifferently.
As for us, so many opportunities come and go. Above all else, we must not miss the opportunities to do good which pleases God, so that we will not end up with regret.
This is something that happened in Russia. One winter night, when an icy wind was blowing from the north, a man in a warm house heard a knock on the door. He had often heard the familiar knock, and he realized that the person knocking on his door was the very old man who had occasionally come to his house begging for help. Whenever the old man came, he gave him some money and sometimes a warm drink. That night, a severe snowstorm raged outside and he did not feel like opening the door. However, he reluctantly opened it and gave him some money and then quickly closed the door.
After the old man left, he felt uncomfortable. It was a very cold winter night, and he probably did not even have a place to sleep. However, he left him outside the door, and it made him feel very uneasy. When he looked around his house, there was an unoccupied bed with a blanket in the inner room. Actually it was not a problem to provide a bed for the old man for just one night. However, he thought that it was good not to invite him in because if the dirty old man had used the bed, a bad smell would have permeated throughout the room and the blanket would have been soiled. Comforting himself with that thought, he tried to sleep.
A few days later, a frozen body was found in the village. The person frozen to death was that same old man. He was found dead in a miserable state, hugging a package tight to his chest; he looked like he could not have endured the severe cold.
Hearing of the old man’s death, he was shocked and plunged into regret. Through this, he came to the realization: ‘Man has a chance to be forgiven by God for a sin which he once committed, but it will leave him with eternal regret and pain in his heart if he misses an opportunity to do good.’
From the story of the man who regretted because he did not do good even though he was given the chance, we can learn many things. We have had the opportunity to be forgiven by God for our evil. But for good deeds we have not done even though we have been given the opportunity, we will always regret having missed the opportunity. We need to think it over.
Let us look around. There are so many good things we can do. However, if we fail to make use of our God-given opportunities, it brings an eternal regret. We can confirm this through the case of Judas Iscariot.
He was given many good opportunities to receive Christ fully, wasn’t he? Every day he stayed with Jesus and listened to His teachings that helped him to foster the hope for heaven and to cultivate his faith in God. Thus, he was given many opportunities, but he missed them all.
On the contrary, Mary Magdalene did not miss the opportunity to do good. She poured all of her expensive perfume on Jesus’ head and feet, wet His feet with her tears, and then wiped them with her hair. Jesus praised Mary for her good deed and said to His disciples, “Wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Lk 7:36-50; Jn 12:1-8).
We, who are following Christ today, have various opportunities. Like Mary Magdalene, we are given opportunities to wholeheartedly worship God, to save people through preaching and to understand Christ’s heart by suffering hardships and persecution. Though all these opportunities are available, if we do not recognize them and fail to seize them, we will grumble and complain like Judas Iscariot and will even lose the opportunity to enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Gospel of Matthew describes what opposite results were brought to those who received God and the foolish people who did not worship God, missing all the opportunities.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, … When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ”Mt 25:31-40
2,000 years ago, people were given the opportunities to worship God who came in the flesh. Even now, we have opportunities to receive God in the flesh—the Spirit and the Bride. Considering Jesus’ words, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,” there are so many opportunities to receive God by giving love to our brothers and sisters around us.
Those on God’s right seized all of their God-given opportunities. God has prepared all the blessings of heaven for those who grasp the opportunities to do good just as He taught them.
But those on God’s left ignored their God-given opportunities and circumstances to enter into eternal life. As a result, they have departed from Christ into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41-46).
Considering all the Biblical teachings, we must not miss opportunities to do good. The greatest good is saving a life, isn’t it? Caring for other people’s lives rather than my own is the best of good deeds.
Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan as a representative example of good deeds.
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”Lk 10:30-37
In the above verse, we can see two men who threw away an opportunity. When a priest and a Levite saw a man who fell into the hands of robbers, they passed by on the other side. Like those on God’s left, they gave up the opportunity to do good. However, a Samaritan did not miss the opportunity; when he saw the man attacked by the robbers, he saved his life.
If the Samaritan had left him alone, he would have died. We were just like the man who fell into the hands of the robbers. God acted like the Samaritan and told us to go and do likewise. How good it is when we help others restore their physical lives! Then, what if we save their mortal souls? There is no greater good than this.
We have already received salvation and eternal life, and we are now given opportunities to do good like the Samaritan. Let us examine ourselves: Do we not miss our God-given opportunities as if they had nothing to do with us, like the priest and the Levite did? There are so many opportunities around us; we must not lose any of them.
Apostle Paul was one of those who never missed an opportunity to do good. Since he grabbed all the opportunities to do good, he did not have any regrets when he looked back on his life.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. … and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.2 Ti 4:5-8
Paul said that he felt no regret or shame because he fought the good fight and finished the race. He lived a life like that of the good Samaritan by doing good deeds for the souls who would die if left alone, just as Christ did. He was anxious about the miserable future of those who did not know God and did not hear the gospel; he gave hope to those who had no hope, and preached the truth to those who did not know the truth. Thus, he healed their wounded spirits with God’s word.
2 Corinthians 11 shows that Paul toiled hard, day and night, to share life with many people without missing the opportunities given to him, even being flogged severely and facing every kind of danger and suffering (2 Co 11:23-27). Such was his whole life. So looking back on his life, he confidently said, “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.”
When God rewards each person according to what he has done, we must not find ourselves regretting our deeds. The priest and the Levite passed by on the other side when they saw the man attacked by the robbers, without caring for his life at all. Through such a parable, Jesus teaches us, who are living today, that those who devote themselves to saving souls are the blessed people who seize the great opportunities God has given them.
Since Paul did not miss the opportunities given to him, he was able to confidently say that he had lived a life without regrets. Let us think about what opportunity we are given today. Opportunities exist for all. No matter where we are and what our circumstances are, there are always opportunities for us.
Jesus Christ was the Good Samaritan. He never missed the opportunities to do good. He was concerned about dying souls and did not turn away from the opportunity to save us and laid down His life for us.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”Jn 10:10-11
Jesus was the Good Samaritan and the Good Shepherd because He came to give life. When no one cared for our life, He approached us like the good Samaritan and awoke our mortal souls and healed us through the new covenant. He has given us new strength by letting us eat and drink the bread and wine which contain the promise of eternal life, and has showed us the way to the everlasting kingdom of heaven. Like Christ, we should tell the people, who do not know their future and just live aimlessly, that the kingdom of heaven truly exists and also should lead their souls to the eternal heavenly kingdom, as the ministers of the new covenant.
Christ said that He came that the sheep might have life, and have it to the full. And He told us to do just like He did. Let us pay attention to all the people of the world. Taking pity on the souls who will be punished in the lake of eternal fire if left alone, let us approach them, awaken one soul after another, and treat their wounded spirits with the medicine of God’s word, like the good Samaritan. Then God will work the miracle of healing all their wounds.
We should try to live a life without regrets by seizing the opportunities to do good like Apostle Paul did, rather than spending our life only pursuing the desires of the flesh—the empty and meaningless things of the world—and ending up with grief.
… for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” … Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.Ro 10:12-17
If anyone is attacked by robbers on the street and is left nearly dead but nobody cares for him, how can he live? It is through faith that dying souls can live. How can they have faith and be saved without someone preaching to them? So God said, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of salvation!”
We have been trying to preach the gospel to our family, neighbors and friends, so that we may not miss the opportunities to do good. However, there are still so many souls who are waiting for us to preach to them, longing for salvation. So we must always care for them, like the good Samaritan. Though they refuse to listen, we need not be disheartened. If we keep preaching the gospel to them, whether they listen or not, the message we preach will become a medicine to heal the whole world, sooner or later.
If we fail to do good even though we are given the opportunity, we will regret it forever. From now on, let us seize all God-given opportunities to do good. Jesus says that if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of the little ones, he will certainly not lose his reward (Mt 10:42). A small deed like giving a cup of water to someone is also a precious opportunity to do good.
An opportunity to worship God, an opportunity to save dying souls, an opportunity to love our neighbors, … We have so many opportunities to do good. I earnestly hope that none of our brothers and sisters in Zion will miss any of the opportunities to do good, so that we will all receive a lot of compliments and eternal rewards from God when we reach the everlasting kingdom of heaven.