Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Five Out of Ten

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” (Matt. 25:1-2)

            Does this parable spoken by our Lord indicate the basic ratio of wise to foolish women? I hope not. But from what I’ve observed through the years, it’s a distinct possibility. In any case, without looking for any Second Coming clues in this little story, as preachers love to do, I want to make a few (I hope) helpful observations. There are several other “foolish woman” texts in the Bible, and I’ll have a few choice words to say about them too, I’m sure. J

            First, all ten were virgins. We’re not talking about a “good girl/bad girl” distinction here. And they all had good intentions: they all wanted to see the bridegroom. A lot of young girls assume that if they’re basically going in the right direction, they can live on the edge spiritually and one day they’ll suddenly turn into great women of God. All ten girls were on the same road, carrying the same lamps. But there was one big difference.

            Only half of them had prepared for any contingency. The five who brought lamps but no oil assumed that it was only going to be a daytime journey, filled with sunshine. No need to prepare for any dark times. Much like those who see no need to build any discipline and devotion in their lives. “I can do that when I’m older. I just want to laugh and have a good time with my Christian friends now.”

            And speaking of friends, did you notice that the other five may have tried to be an encouragement to their foolish friends, but when it got dark, they only had enough oil for themselves. And when we hit those times when only God can supply what we need, it’s too late to take a crash course in godliness, and you can’t live on other people’s Christianity. A lamp with no oil is only good for the daylight, and a Christian life without an abiding, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ is only good for the good times.

            When I was a teen-ager, we used to sing “Give me oil in my lamp; keep me burning; give me oil in my lamp, I pray.” And that’s what you and I need: lamps filled with oil…for the good times and the bad.

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