Wise and Foolish Virgins

 

Matthew goes to great length in warning us to not be complacent. There are seven places in the Bible where it mentions, “weeping (or wailing) and gnashing of teeth” and six of those seven are in the Gospel of Matthew. The seventh is in Luke’s Gospel. Each case is preceded by a story illustrating a particular point of concern. 

1.      The story of the Centurion illustrates the need for faith.

2.      The parable of the weeds illustrates the need to avoid things that cause sin and those that do evil.

3.      The parable of the net warns us that God will distinguish between those that may appear good and those that are good.

4.      The parable of the wedding banquet explains we need to clothe ourselves with righteousness and fit to be presented to the king.

5.      The story about the unknown day and hour of the Lord’s return illustrates the danger of becoming careless in waiting for the return of our Lord.

6.      The parable of the talents teaches us to be good stewards. To invest our God given gifts such that our Master will call us, “Good and faithful servants.”

7.      The parable of the narrow door shows us that not everyone that professes to be a Christian will be saved.

 

Now, let’s look at the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. This parable is one more example that could be included in the series of gnashing of teeth parables.

*   (Mat 25:1-13 NIV)  "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. {2} Five of them were foolish and five were wise. {3} The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. {4} The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. {5} The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. {6} "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' {7} "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. {8} The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' {9} "'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' {10} "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. {11} "Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' {12} "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' {13} "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

 

In one-way or another the King and the kingdom of heaven are always involved in this series of warning. Frequently the idea of a wedding and by extension a marriage is involved. All of this ties in with the marriage of the Lamb and the bride of the lamb: In other words the marriage of Jesus and the Church as described in the book of Revelation. Some of the elements are analogous but as an analogy it breaks down at times and other elements are merely implied. The important thing is not in the details it’s in the message. And the message is the same is in all the other cases we looked at. That message is simply that the Lord will return but we don’t know just when that will be. Consequently we can never become lax, take tomorrow for granted, or let our guard down. We need to be ready at all times. I wear my seat belt whenever I am riding in a car. But, I have never needed it! So why do I bother to wear it? Most likely I could live out my life and never have a problem because of not wearing my seat belt. But I always wear it anyway. I fear that if just one time I didn’t wear it that would be the one time I truly needed it.

 

I suppose the parallel is obvious. We don’t want to be caught in that one moment when the Lord returns and not be prepared. The only way to be prepared it to learn from the multitude of warnings our Lord has given.

 

Be faithful; avoid evil people and places that lead us into temptation. Stay in the Spirit and obey the commandments. As Jesus put it, be about your Father’s work. Pray always. Read your Bible. Examine yourself and your actions and your motives with honesty on a regular basis. Learn to see the log in your own eye. Strive each day to fulfill your purpose. Don’t count on others to do for you what you should do for yourself. Learn what love is and learn to love.

*   (1 Cor 13 NIV)  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. {2} If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. {3} If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. {4} Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. {5} It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. {6} Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. {7} It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. {8} Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. {9} For we know in part and we prophesy in part, {10} but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. {11} When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. {12} Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. {13} And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

These are evil times we live in. It is easy to get caught up in the snares of the devil. We need to be careful lest our minds become worldly.

*   (Phil 4:8 NIV)  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

President Theodore Roosevelt is famous for the phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” I find a similar though in Matthew 10:16 which strikes me as good advice for walking safely though today’s world.

*   (Mat 10:16 NIV)  I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

 

Let us pray.