Summary: #6 in Proverbs and Parables series (#5 not available) Matthew 25:1-13 with Proverbs to keep Watch over our Work, the Words we Say and the Words we Obey
SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 25:1-13
Notice the moral of that Parable: Therefore keep watch. The 5 Foolish Virgins obviously did NOT keep watch. After all, they were sound asleep. But wait a minute… the 5 Wise Virgins were also sleeping. So what does it mean to Keep Watch? Can you be asleep and still keep watch?
The 5 Wise Virgins could sleep well because they had their “night lights.” They had oil for their lamps because they thought ahead. They were prepared. They bought oil for their lamps during the day, so they could sleep well all night.
On the other hand, the 5 Foolish Virgins had no reason to be sleeping soundly. The truth is that while they were snoring away, they should have been out looking for a late-night sale on lamp oil!
We need to keep in mind that all 10 of these women were waiting for the coming of the Bridegroom. This is a metaphor for the second coming of Christ when he will come for his CHURCH. But I also think it is a picture of what we do in our daily lives. We are often in situations where we are waiting for Christ to show up. Have you noticed that we often have to WAIT for answers to our prayers?
We pray to be healed from a sickness … or for a job we desperately need … or for some sign to show us how to make a hard decision. And we wait for the answer. We know God will come through somehow … some time. But we don’t know how, and we don’t know when… So we wait.
Life is full of circumstances where we must wait … and sometimes wait and wait … for Christ to answer our prayers. And what do we tend to do while we’re waiting? We tend to WORRY. But notice that the command Christ gave is to WATCH … not to WORRY.
We all know that worry is unproductive. Even if the situation we’re worrying about does happen, the worry doesn’t make us any better off.
I heard a story about a woman who hadn’t had a good night’s sleep for years and years because she was constantly worried about burglars. One night her husband heard a noise in the house, so he went downstairs to investigate. When he got there, he did find a burglar. "Good evening,” the husband said to the burglar. "I am pleased to see you. Come upstairs and meet my wife. She has been waiting to meet you for 10 long years." William Marshall, Eternity Shut in a Span.
A recent survey studied the kind of things people tend to loose sleep worrying over:
40% --- worry about things that will never happen
30% --- fret over things about the past that can’t be changed
12% --- stress out over criticism from others… mostly untrue
10% --- are anxious about health (and, of course, the worrying made the health worse)
only 8% --- lost sleep over real problems that would be faced
Most of our worries are completely pointless. But there are some real problems that do need to be faced. Our real responsibilities need to be taken care of during the day, so we can rest with confidence in the night. The 5 Foolish Virgins may have been snoozing away, but the truth is, they actually had good reason to lose sleep. Proverbs 13:9 puts it this way: The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.
Chapters 12 and 13 of Proverbs offer some good advice about how … like the 5 Wise Virgins --- we can keep watch in the night. If we’re going to watch without worry, one thing we need to do is watch our WORK.
1. Watch our Work
Listen to this practical advice for those who want to be prepared.
He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. Proverbs 12:11
The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4
Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. Proverbs 13:11
The 5 Virgins went out and bought the oil ahead of time. They did their work at the proper time, in the proper way. So when the night came, their lights were by their sides. They were ready, and they could rest with confidence.
I’ve heard an old saying, “When I works I works hard. When I sits I sits loose. When I thinks I falls asleep.” Well, that’s not exactly what we’re talking about. But it gets the general idea that there is a time to work and a time to rest. God made us to need rest. I think it’s fascinating that the more we learn about the human body, the more we see God’s wisdom in how he made us.