Watch and Be Ready!

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. [1]

I remember from the time of the Jesus People, we used to sing a song which contained the words, “Give Me Oil in my Lamp, Keep me Burning.”  That is the thrust of the story Jesus told regarding readiness.  Although many have attempted to make this story about a particular point in time when Christ will return it is really about believing that he will return and always being ready.  Always having enough oil to keep them lit was essential, for if they went out, unlike our modern lamps, it was a big ordeal to get the going again.

The mistake of the foolish virgins was not really believing the bridegroom would return and therefore did not give attention to always having their lamps ready.  They simply didn’t come prepared.  This story is not about working our way into heaven, but it is about whether the way we actually live our daily lives matches what we say we believe.  Do our daily actions indicate that we really are expecting the return of Christ at any time?  Clearly, it is also not about sleeping for scripture clearly tells us in Psalms, “He gives to his beloved even in their sleep.”  It’s about how we live our waking hours in readiness, so we can go to sleep with a good conscience.  Remember, all the virgins slept, only the wise ones were ready with enough oil.

As we start this day, let us remember to keep enough oil for our lamps to continually burn.  In another place in scripture, Paul the apostle also knew there would be great reward for being ready on that day.  But Paul also said, but not for himself only, but for all who loved his appearing.  Let’s watch and be ready!

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 25:1–13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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