Pastor Damian Kyle

Strategic Opportunities

Strategic Opportunities for Doing Good: Acts 9:26-31

Teaching by Pastor Damian Kyle

Pastor Damian KylePaul is simply the absolute last human being anybody in the world thought would ever become a Christian. He is now converted following his Damascus Road encounter with the Lord Jesus Himself and has been engaged in a three-year period of preparation by the Holy Spirit for God’s call upon his life. Now Paul returns to the city of Jerusalem for the first time since becoming saved. The Christians in Jerusalem, those he now loved with all his heart, haven’t forgotten what he did three years earlier—that crushing persecution against them. Paul was in a very lonely, very vulnerable position. He knew it. He was a man without a country. Their first reaction was fear; their second reaction was unbelief. He was the most friendless man in all of Jerusalem.

“But Barnabas” are the first two words in verse 27. Here is Barnabas in contrast to all the other Christians—he wasn’t fearful or unbelieving. He even spoke for Paul in front of the apostles. As a result of this endorsement, Paul was accepted into fellowship. We might have ended up with a very different Book of Acts without this very, very strategic act of kindness on the part of Barnabas. Extending an encouragement or an act of kindness to someone during a time of need or vulnerability is always, always very powerful. I think about the Lord Jesus in this regard. It didn’t merely mark His teaching; it marked His life.

That opportunity presented to Barnabas was a very short, very strategic one. Literally the opportunity was there one day and would have been gone the next. And that’s exactly the way it goes in life. Sometimes there’s just 30 seconds (or an hour or a day) to grab the opportunity and make something of it. I can look back and remember opportunities that presented themselves to me and because I was too busy at the moment, or my priorities were out of whack, I missed the opportunity to be used by God in that person’s life. One of the keys to being deeply influential in the Christian life is to recognize those fleeting moments of opportunity [from] the Holy Spirit, to recognize how valuable they are, and to seize them fully when they present themselves to us for the sake of the kingdom of God.

So, as Christians, we find ourselves in a world that is engulfed in the Coronavirus pandemic. That is the reality of the world in which we live. It will pass, and everyone will be relieved when it does. When it passes, the unique and strategic opportunity that it presents … will pass as well. It is in extraordinary times like this that we can uniquely, as the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), shine at our brightest and to our greatest effect.

Typically, each of us will only get [a few] opportunities like this presented to us—opportunities for our friends, families, parents, children, co-workers, fellow students, fellow citizens, even perfect strangers to see clearly the difference that Jesus makes in our lives. One day when all of this passes, as Christians, we will not want to look back and say merely, “We survived it. I got my rice and beans, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper before everyone else did.” Or “I didn’t get the virus.” If that’s all that we accomplish in this crisis, we will have squandered a strategic opportunity to impact others through the others-centered encouragements and acts of kindness that the Lord wants to do through our lives.

And it doesn’t take anything major. It’s amazing how powerful small things can be when the Holy Spirit adds His witness to it. It can just be to look in on someone who’s alone, or to call someone to pray with him, to run an errand for someone, to buy some extra groceries for someone in a pinch, to just hold the door open at a store when everyone’s rushing in … [to buy] the last package of rice you’re after. Just a smile, to be polite, to be courteous, to exhibit joy is powerful in a time like this. To go about our lives as Christians with that joy and hope and to simply show some extra patience, compassion, and love for other people is powerful stuff in the hands of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s be careful of fear, of greed, and of doing things that we will deeply regret and will in some way mar our Christian witness in this season. Those are the easiest emotions [except lust] to be manipulated by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Paul wrote Timothy and said, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). He went on to speak about what is to be in place in our lives where fear wants to make a stronghold—power, love, and a disciplined mind.

It also does me good to be re-reminded of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23a). Again, one day [this crisis] will pass. What we long for as Christians is to be able to look back upon it as a strategic moment in human history that was entrusted to us by God—and during which we took full advantage of it as an opportunity to share the Gospel with people: what the reason is for our peace and hope, and the source of our joy, as we’re facing all of the same things that they are. [We’re] to be God’s eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet, as the body of Christ in the midst of all of the great need that is around us now.

May God give each of us the sensitivity of Barnabas, who knew the power of truth, of encouragement, and an act of kindness in a strategic time of need. It can change a life, a future in a person’s life.

Jesus taught the greatest commandment in the law of Moses: “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37b-39

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