Buy Up Your Opportunities

by William J. Stewart

The above phrase appears in the 1912 Weymouth New Testament rendering of Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5. To the people of Ephesus, Paul wrote, “Therefore be very careful how you live and act. Let it not be as unwise men, but as wise. Buy up your opportunities, for these are evil times.” The Colossians were told, “Behave wisely in relation to the outside world, buying up your opportunities.”

In the financial market, opportunities are always coming and going, and those who are prudent in business take advantage of such occasions and will profit. In the above texts, the apostle calls upon the child of God to be a wise investor in afar greater arena—our labour for the Lord.

We must buy up our opportunities by…

The apostle John penned, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). The Lord has provided us a perfect example of how we ought to walk, and requires that we follow in it. Peter wrote, “…as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

We must always be aware of the impact our daily conduct has. By our actions, we will either build up our brethren, or we will tear them down. Our behaviour will glorify the Lord’s name in the world, or will trample it underfoot. Our faithful course of life will perhaps encourage the lost to come to the Lord, yet if hypocrisy is present, we will repel them.

We must by up our opportunities by…

In order to walk circumspectly, we must know God’s will. Jeremiah brought a charge from the Lord against Israel, “…My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge” (Jeremiah 4:22). Through the prophet Hosea, the Lord said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6).

“Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).  We are obligated to “…study to shew thyself approved unto God…” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). After telling the Ephesians to buy up their opportunities, Paul warned, “…the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). We are useless to the Lord in spiritual warfare if we are clueless regarding His will.

We must buy up our opportunities by…

By this, we do not (nor did Paul) mean a miraculous indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which causes the indwellee to speak gibberish, roll about on the floor, and engage in other unseemly conduct. The “drunk with the Spirit” concept in our present day is not kin in any fashion to the “filled with the Spirit” Paul commands. An outward expression of being “filled with the Spirit” is identified in the text, “…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…” (Ephesians 5:19).

The Spirit-filled person will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). He will “…walk in the Spirit…” and thus “…not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16; cf. Romans 8:4-5).

We must buy up our opportunities by…

Paul admonished the Colossians, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). As the people of God, our speech ought to extol truth, uplifting the faithful and encouraging the wayward. We need not be the greatest orator on the planet, but we must have our speech adorned by the grace of the Lord. The apostle Peter penned, “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…” (1 Peter 3:15).

The Lord revealed how important our words are, “…I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). We must guard our tongues; we must think before we speak; so we do not sell away opportunities to do good.


The Lord has blessed us with energy, time, ability and material goods. In the course of each day, opportunities will come our way to use these good and perfect gifts to His glory. My brethren, may we buy up our opportunities! It will be to the saving of our won souls, and perhaps also those who we are able to help and teach.

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