Summary: Boy Scout Sunday sermon How do you keep plenty of oil in your lamp?
“Be Prepared” -a sermon for Boy Scout Sunday. Matthew 25:1-12 Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
One thing that all Scouts, young and old, never forget is the Boy Scout Motto: "Be prepared." If you’ve ever set up a tent and didn’t tie your lines securely, you know what happens when the wind and rain hits! A tent collapse in the middle of the night is a rude awakening! Or, if you get a brand-new pair of hiking boots and don’t properly break them in, then go on a ten-mile hike, it’s pretty painful! You might forget bug-spray during mosquito season. Or if you bring a flashlight on a campout, but not extra batteries; that can make it somewhat challenging finding the latrine in the middle of the night! We sometimes learn the hard way to anticipate our needs. We need to plan ahead, before it’s too late. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark!
The bridesmaids in the story we read were there to keep the bride company until the bridegroom arrived. It was the custom to hold weddings after nightfall. Having lamps was important because you couldn’t go out after dark without one; it wasn’t safe, and wasn’t allowed. These lamps were made from clay and carried on a wooden pole. Five of the bridesmaids, we’re told, were wise and five were foolish. The wise ones were prepared. They had their lamps ready, and they made sure that they had brought extra oil. The foolish ones didn’t check their oil; in fact, they took a nap! After a while, the bridegroom arrived. The wise ones lit their lamps, and followed him to the wedding banquet. The unprepared bridesmaids ran out of oil and stumbled along after the procession in the dark. But they arrived too late and were unable to participate in the wedding feast. Without lamps, they appeared as strangers trying to crash the party, not guests. The lesson is: Be prepared!
Jesus told this story to illustrate why it is important for people to prepare for His return. He is sometimes called a Bridegroom in the New Testament, and one day He will come and celebrate a wedding unlike any other. All who believe in Him are His bride. Bible prophecy talks about the coming marriage feast of Jesus. But no one knows the day or the hour, so we’d all better be prepared. I help couples plan weddings, and there’s a lot to do to get ready for the “big day”…but I remind them that it’s even more challenging to prepare for life. Spiritual preparation involves doing good things, loving enemies, forgiveness, resisting evil and helping the poor. This story tells us that preparation is an individual thing. I may have a trusted Scoutmaster who gives good guidance, but I’m the only one who can prepare for my future. Jesus’ story suggests that preparation takes time and thoughtful consideration. You can’t just run out and buy more oil whenever you finally think of it. You have to plan ahead, set goals, devise a checklist, and pray. How well do we prepare for the future today?
Several years ago, a Fortune 500 company advertised in the New York Times to fill a vacancy in its sales force. They received an application unlike any other. This particular job-seeker wrote: "I am at present selling furniture at the address listed below. You may judge my ability as a salesman if you will stop in to see me at anytime, pretending that you are interested in buying furniture. When you come in, you can identify me by my red hair. I will have no way of identifying you. Such salesmanship as I exhibit during your visit, therefore, will be no more than my usual workday efforts and not a special attempt to impress a prospective employer." From among more than 1500 applicants, this guy got the job!
So how do you keep plenty of oil in your lamp?
If you have never placed your faith in Jesus, that’s where you need to start. When you become a Christian, your sins are forgiven and you receive the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. By the way, in the story oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, because oil is a source of energy, the fuel that ignites our ability to live as Christ’s disciples. God the Holy Spirit gives us power and a new nature. He helps us to grow and mature spiritually. We begin to draw from a never-ending Source to change our lives from the inside-out.
If you have already trusted in Jesus, receiving Him as your Savior and Lord, then your task is to deepen that relationship through prayer, by studying God’s Word, through worship, fellowship with other Christians, and by cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He guides you.