Ephesians 5:15 “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Colossians 4:5 “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
I don’t know about you, but I struggle sometimes with procrastination. Especially if it is a task I am uncomfortable with or don’t really want to do. I put it off. And probably most of us have done that from time to time. We don’t really want to do the laundry or the dishes, and they get a little piled up and then we grudgingly do what we know has to be done. We wait until the yard grows a little too high before we mow it when it is hot outside. We put off going to the doctor for our physical, we put off talking with that person we are at odds with and we definitely put off starting that diet or exercise routine we know we really need to keep our bodies in shape. Some of what we put off is harmless, a bad habit maybe, but harmless. Other things we put off really do have a negative impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. One thing that we put off that is perhaps the most serious in its consequences is being a witness to the Truth of the Gospel to those around us.
I know it is uncomfortable, it means taking a risk. We worry about it, we think about it, but we never actually screw up the courage to go and tell those in our lives about the hope that we have in Christ. Well, as Christians we are instructed to make the most of every opportunity. Paul says it twice in two different letters to two different churches. In Ephesians 5:15 “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” And in Colossians 4:5 “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” We are instructed to stop procrastinating and make the most of every opportunity.
Well, this morning we are going to look at why Paul was so qualified to give us these instructions. In Acts 24 we see Paul interacting with the first of many high officials. He had a hearing with Felix the Governor of Judea, and then was held without a decision for two years.
For two years, Paul witnessed to this man, Felix Governor of Judea. He was in effect a captive witness that Felix would call on from time to time to hear more about his story and also to see if Paul would give him a bribe. And Paul witnessed faithfully. He didn’t soften his approach just because this man had held him as prisoner. He told him the truth. And Felix didn’t always like the truth. Verse 25 tells us that at one point Felix was afraid and dismissed Paul in the middle of his testimony. Let me tell you who this Felix was so that you have an understanding of why he would be afraid of Paul’s testimony.
Antonius Claudius, Felix, Governor of Judea (52-60 AD) Born a slave in Rome. With his brother Pallas, was freed by Claudius, gaining a new name and started their climb up the social ladder. Antonius served in Samaria under Ventidius Cumanus the Procurator of Judea and may have been instrumental in his banishment. (Cumanus took the side of the Samaritans against the Jews and was stripped of rank and sent to the emperor to justify his actions.) Granted the name Felix (fortunate) perhaps as a reward for military service or his part in Cumanus' fall.
Antonius was granted the procuratorship of Judea. He was not a good Governor or a good man. Felix treated his subjects like slaves: extorting anything he could from them, and accepting bribes whenever possible. The Roman historian Tacitus said, "he revelled in cruelty and lust, and wielded the power of a king with the mind of a slave."
Felix believed he had license to commit any crime; relying on his influence in the emperor's court to protect him. When Jonathan, the high priest, confronted him for his misrule he conspired with a friend of Jonathan to have him assassinated. He seduced Drusilla, the wife we read about in Acts 24, when she was only 16 years old and married to another man. He convincing her to leave her husband and marry him. Drusilla was his third wife.
In AD 60 Felix was recalled to Rome to face charges of misrule. Even his brother Pallas would refuse to support him and the charges brought by the Jews stood. Felix lost his position and was eventually banished for his crimes.
Obviously this was a man who had a lot to be ashamed of. Paul starts telling him about righteousness and judgment and Felix is understandably afraid. I don’t know if he even let Paul get to the good part about how to deal with your unrighteousness. He may not have let Paul tell him about repentance, or maybe that is what scared him the most—having to admit that he had done things that were wrong in the eyes of God. This man had been a slave, and then had risen to unimaginable power. There is something that can happen with people who have been abused and victimized. They sometimes turn that into a license to do whatever they want because they feel entitled. “People treated me like trash, I deserve to have whatever I want.” Felix seemed to have this attitude.
He would not have been a pleasant person to be around. Everything was about him. I think we all know someone like that in our lives. They are hard to love, hard to be around, sometimes we don’t want to share the gospel with them because we don’t know how they will react. But here is what we need to see this morning to put our focus in the right place:
It was important enough to God that Felix hear the Truth that he put his most effective evangelist in his life for two years. God loved Felix and wanted him to come to faith. Paul understood that and was faithful to testify to this man for two years. That is why Paul gets the credibility to tell us to make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Paul was with an evil man capable of great evil actions because he was in such great power. How would history have changed if Felix would have listened? If he had repented, he had just as much potential to do great things for good purposes.
Think about those people in your life that you have been putting off telling about Jesus. You need to stop procrastinating and make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Even those people that are unpleasant to be around, think of what could happen if God got a hold of their lives and turned them around. You know that I am not telling you to beat down doors and bash people on the head with your Bible. I am talking about taking advantage of the opportunities God is giving you to share with people about the new life they can have in Christ. I am talking about praying for God to open your eyes to those opportunities. I am telling you to pray for the words to say to best tell that gospel message to the particular person you are witnessing to.
God gives us opportunities. Sometimes they come in our circumstances. Sometimes they come in unpleasant situations with unpleasant people. Regardless of how the opportunity arises, we need to be ready to make the most of it because it is vitally important. Because the days are evil. What that means is that everywhere we look, we see unholy influences. We are surrounded by worldliness and godlessness, and that is the same in every time in history, so I am not making a social commentary! We are surrounded by witnesses for evil. That is why it is so important for us as witnesses to life, witnesses to healing, witnesses to the power of God at work to transform lives—for us to take advantage of the opportunities God gives us to pour his truth into the lives of those around us.
If we would make the most of every opportunity, think of the new life we would see springing up around us. Think of the kingdom growth we would witness. Think of the amazing things God has done in the lives of those who know him and think of that same power at work in the lives of those who don’t know him yet.
Make the most of every opportunity.