Summary: A passage of teaching at the Fiji Officers councils 2021. This led to a discussion about what is the good oil that fuels our ministry and keeps us intentional.

Being intentional: The parable of the ten virgins.

Matthew 25:1-13

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight the cry rang out: here’s the bridegroom! Come out and meet him!

Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ’Give us some of your oil, our lamps are going out.’

‘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.’

But while they were on their way to but the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

Later the others also came, ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us.’

“But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

This passage like the one before it about the faithful and wise servant who could be a wicked servant is again about Jesus return. The interesting thing about both of these passages is that they relate to a time on the Mount of Olives where the disciples asked Jesus for a heads up on the end of the age. These parables and teachings are termed by theologians as part of the Olivet discourse, because this teaching happened on the Mount of Olives and theologians and academics, like to give a fancy name to such things.

When we look at these passages in this discourse, we see that the people mentioned who fell out of favour, the wicked servant, the foolish virgins had a foot in the door, with the master, with the bridegroom. The servant worked in the master’s household and was favoured by him to feed the other servants, he either got on with his tasks, or he got distracted from his task, was tempted to misbehave and he lost his direction and intention and in the long term his place in the master's house. The foolish virgins were to meet the bridegroom, they just neglected their preparation, they weren’t responsible and ready with their oil, they also were not intentional. They neglected just one thing, they had no back up oil.

Or is there more to story and the personalities of these virgins. Five were foolish, interestingly Jesus tells us five were foolish. Was it their upbringing that left them foolish, maybe they just didn’t know, they had never heard the boy scout motto, “Be Prepared”, maybe they had bad attitudes, whatever it was they weren’t ready for the eventuality of the groom showing up late. In our roles are we ready for every eventuality, if not can we call on resources that we already have to ensure a good kingdom outcome?

When we were in Sri Lanka there was a song that just about went with every local language tune that I didn’t know the words for. I could almost always sing the song, “Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning, give me oil in my lamp I pray, give me oiling my lamp keep me burning, keep me burning till the break of day. Sing hosanna, sing hosanna etc, etc, etc. I really like that song it makes me feel fired up and ready to witness the love of Jesus!

Are we ready, are we not ready? Jesus taught this parable about the ten virgins to his disciples, those wonderful saints of the church, why because I believe there were some that he had concerns for, not just Judas. He had been with these men for three years we are told. He also knew that we would read these words and some Christians are a bit like the foolish virgins, their lamps are not always burning, they are easily distracted, weak-willed, not realising what is going on around them spiritually, or even physically. Did you note in the passage that all ten virgins had fallen asleep and needed to be woken for the bridegroom's arrival also? Lately, I have had a number of conversations with people affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasa, and when I asked them how they got on they said, “what a storm, but after TC Winston we were prepared, we built stronger, we knew where to go when TC Yasa hit, we harvested what we could and stored it. We were prepared because we knew.” They had learnt from experience what could happen, there were even some who knew how to tell the storm was coming, the dolphins come close to the shore, the temperature is hotter and the air stiller.

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