Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Scattered throughout the four gospels of the New Testament, we find parables that Jesus told His disciples and those who also came to listen. In Matthew 25:1-13, we find the parable of the ten wise and foolish virgins. These ten women were on their way to meet the bridegroom, taking their lamps with them to light the way. Unfortunately, the bridegroom was delayed, so they slept while they waited. At midnight, they were told the bridegroom was coming, so they should go to meet him.
All ten virgins went to trim their lamps in preparation. This point is significant because according to a quick internet search, I discovered that you need to trim the wick in order to keep the flame burning brightly. But trimming is useless if you have no oil (or fuel) to keep the flame burning. Such was the issue with five out of the ten women. Their lamps were going out, so trimming the wick served no purpose.
Those women, who Jesus labeled as foolish, asked the other five women who were labeled as wise, if they could use some of their oil. You see, the wise women came prepared with extra oil in their vessels. In Matthew 25:9, we read the response:
But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’
So the foolish virgins left to purchase oil.
While they were gone, the bridegroom arrived and the five women who were ready went with him to the wedding. Once they arrived, the entrance door was shut. Later, the foolish virgins arrived, knocking on the door to ask for entry. The bridegroom’s response in verse 11, was quite simple. He stated – I do not know you, and the women were not allowed to enter. Jesus closed out this parable by reminding those who listened that they did not know when Christ would return, but it was imperative that they remained prepared.
Being Kind to One Another
Jesus provided an explanation for the metaphor, but I’d like to dissect the actions of the wise women. It’s interesting that these five virgins did not share their oil. This choice seems to go against the idea that we are supposed to be kind to one another, lending a helpful hand. Yet who determines what helpful looks like? For the foolish women, sharing oil would be the way to lend a helping hand. For the wise women, sharing their knowledge of how to obtain oil was their way of being kind. The wise women understood a key principle in our relationship with Christ. We are responsible for our own actions.
This concept is supported by Galatians 6:2-5. We are called to help each other out, but this passage ends by reminding us that we are still responsible for our own load. Too often, we’re more inclined to giving our oil away, putting ourselves and our relationships at risk, than to show someone else how to find their own way. We do not want others calling us selfish, or maybe we secretly like the codependency. But what are we willing to risk in the process of enabling someone as opposed to helping them? I hope not our soul salvation, or theirs.
Every Choice Matters
The habits we create today are the ones that carry us into tomorrow. In the parable, Jesus called these women wise and foolish because that’s who they were. And every day we’re making decisions that define who we are, and the level of preparation that we have to meet life’s circumstances and trials. Let us not be so careless as to think that the choices we make now will have little to no impact on our relationship with Christ. Let us also not be so naïve as to forego the importance of healing and dealing with the weaknesses within our souls. God wants us to experience His blessings and to spread His light. If darkness is ruling us, we miss the opportunity to let Christ lead.
Every choice matters. Every lesson learned is important. This parable gives us many takeaways, including the idea that there is such a thing as too late. Sometimes, it’s too late to make the right choices… too late to undo the damage that has been done. We keep thinking that there is time, but eventually time will run out. You hear people talk about missed opportunities or wanting to turn back the hands of time. It’s a real emotion. I’m sure if the foolish women could do it all over again, with the knowledge they have now, they would’ve packed extra oil. But there are no do-overs. We’re in this world once. Let’s make it count.
The Process of Preparation
The ten virgins needed their lamps to light the way… and each one had to have their own individual light. Yet what fuels the light is the oil, and if we run out of oil, we run out of light. The same goes for us today. Showing up for God is important but having a sustaining relationship with Him is what keeps our lights going. The more we spiritually prepare, the better off we are in the waiting because when life changes – we’re ready. And this change does not have to be negative. Afterall, the metaphor was the regarding the return of Christ.
God wants to move in our lives, but we have to make sure that we’re spending time in devotion, learning the scriptures for ourselves, and having communion with fellow believers to keep our oil flowing. When we learn how to exercise our faith, we’re trimming our lamps to keep the fire burning brighter. We’re able to then self-reflect, being honest about where we are, so we can understand where we need to go. Building a relationship with God is going to look different for each of us, but I pray that we’re willing to go deeper with Christ to ensure our readiness for His return. Life is getting more chaotic, and the waves will crash harder. Are you getting prepared? I pray that we all are, and that we find ourselves like the five wise women who had extra oil.
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