INTRODUCTION: In our everyday life, there are things we have little or no control and one of them is opportunity. People who have keen eyes to seize the opportunities and know how to capitalize them will receive benefits opportunities may bring. Others who are either unable to see their coming or don’t know how to handle them but seeing them slip through their fingers may regret the rest of their lives.
Many Bible scholars agree that the setting of the passage selected for today’s message was in ancient Israel when a king was to select people to be his attendants, a prestigious position of those who will be very close to the king. The candidates will be invited to a lavish banquet in the royal palace with glamorous arrangements: decoration, music, sumptuous food and wine and royal servants and guards. This is a once-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone to be at the king’s presence and the opportunity to be elevated into position of high honor. The king and his advisor will observe the candidates: their attitude, table manner, ability of relating to others and handling of the situation, etc. Decisions will then be made to choose those who knew how to handle the situation properly. Let us see what we may learn from the advice given by the king himself and the applications we may be benefited from.
1) The king has all the discretion, freedom and authority to invite whoever he sees fit. He owes no one in his invitation. Same is true with God that He has all the liberty to exalt one or bring down another. “It is God who judges: He brings one down and exalts another.” (Psalm 75:7) No one has any right to challenge God if he is not in the position he wants. God made it clear as He said “I will have mercy on anyone I will have mercy.” (Exodus 33:19) God owns everything and only He can make His decision.
2) You may have your qualities, but your being invited is completely on the grace of the king. You need to be grateful. The Bible says we are saved by the grace of God, and it is never by our own good. “It is by grace you are saved, not from yourself, not by your own work, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) It is all grace.
3) The honor of your being invited should never be the basis of pride. God will exalt the humble in due time. “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) Never brag on the grace God has bestowed on you. “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (I Corinth. 1:31) All you have comes from Him.
KNOW WELL WHO IS BEFORE YOU:
1) You are at the presence of the king. There will always be someone who has higher authority over your. You need to recognize authorities and be subjected to them. “Therefore submit to the authorities because of conscience.” (Rom. 13:5) People who do not accept authority will get into trouble and punishment.
2) Authorities are given by God at home, in school, at work, in church or society or the nation. “Everyone must submit to the authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” (Romans 13:1) They deserve your respect. Respect of human authority is a sign of respect of God.
KNOW WELL THE OWNER:
1) God has allowed ownership and we need to recognize and respect that. When you are at school, in office or any other places, respect the owner of the property. Do not abuse or steal anything that is not yours. “Thou shall not steal.” (Ex. 20:15) Be honest to the trust the owner places on you. Remember it is his generosity and good will that you are in his palace.
2) Control your impulse or appetite on what the king had provided: food, wine or anything else. Do not overindulge with greed on good things the host has offered. Do not covet but resist temptation of overeating. Showing moderation and courtesy is good for your health and image. “Do not drink too much wine or gorge much on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor.” (Proverb 23:20-21) Less food is good for your health.
PLAY BY THE RULES:
1) Observe the royal rules and procedures to show your respect of the king. Arrive on time and sit where you are assigned. “When you are invited to a feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may be invited.” (Luke 14:7-11) Don’t be late even to an ordinary meeting. Never assume that you are special or above the rules. “Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly manner.” (I Corinth.14:40) Cutting corners or breaking rules may jeopardize your future.
2) Set strict rules for your behavior and conduct and keep them. Do not relax your guidelines or give yourself excuses for breaking your own rules. Build a habit of self control for long term benefits. Your restrictions today may bring you greater honor or reward down the road. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverb 4:23) Never allow your temporary desires ruin your future life. Control your behavior.
KNOW WELL WHAT IS REAL:
1) The word “deceptive” in verse 3 may be translated “superficial”. Things that attract your eyes or soothing your lower nature may be deceptive or superficial, unreal or harmful. The ability to discern real from unreal, temporary gratification to lasting satisfaction, short term desire to long term rewards, is a spiritual quality given by God. “Constantly train yourselves to be able to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
2) Fill your mind, heart and thoughts with things that are of value and virtue. The Apostle Paul encouraged the early Christians to fill their hearts and mind with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, and whatever is excellent and praiseworthy.” (Phil. 4:8) If you keep your heart clean and noble, the Lord may use you to accomplish mighty works. “If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do many good works.” (2 Tim. 2:21)
CONCLUSION: Opportunities seldom strike twice. If you can’t see their coming or are unprepared to make the best use of them, once they are gone, they are gone for good.
Yet opportunities exist all around us every step of our lives. Being alive and well is one. Being young and full of potential is another. Having the privilege to study and grow in knowledge is still another. To have good friends whom we may learn character and personality is a rare opportunity. To be involved in things, projects that cultivate good character is an opportunity. We are to approach opportunities with serious determination to make the most of them. Learn from King Solomon and his advice. Build and grow to the full statue God intends for you.