Summary: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” Matthew 25:13.

Theme: Vigilance

Text: Pr. 2:6-15; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Matt. 25:1-13

One of the greatest problems facing many people in the world today is procrastination. It is always putting off what needs to be done or hoping to do tomorrow what should have been done yesterday forgetting that tomorrow may be too late. Procrastination is waiting for the deadline and not taking advantage of the time we have. It affects every age group. It affects the children, the youth and the adults. Procrastination can be dangerous and putting off a visit to the doctor long enough can cause a lot of pain and suffering. Many relationships have been destroyed because those involved have been putting off spending time with each other. Procrastination however can be fatal when it relates to our relationship with Christ because we do not know what is going to happen in our lives between now and the deadline. We very often deceive ourselves into thinking that we are smarter than anyone else and can always meet the deadline. We want to think that we can control the future, but we cannot. We do not even know what is going to happen to us in the next hour. From the Scriptures we know that Jesus Christ has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us. We know that He has commanded us in the meantime to tell everybody about Him, teach them His commandments and make them His disciples. We know that He will return and that He expects us to be vigilant and to live a holy life.

To be vigilant and ready for Christ’s return is a sign of wisdom. Being wise is being able to manage one’s life intelligently and with understanding. It is applying knowledge the right way. It is a God given gift but requires an earnest search. Wisdom’s starting point is always God and His revealed Word, the source of ‘all knowledge and understanding’. In this sense although wisdom is God’s gift to us, He only gives it to those who earnestly seek it. The first step in acquiring wisdom is to trust and honour God. We can only do this with the help of the Bible. This is the only way that God’s wisdom can be revealed to us. Because the wisdom of God is hidden from the rebellious and the foolish it takes effort to find it and use it.

Although everyone is concerned about the future not many people invest in it. This is because for most people their understanding of future relates only to time – to tomorrow. Only very few people understand that future extends beyond time and into eternity. An average person invests 10-20 years of his or her life preparing for a working life of 20-50 years. He or she often expects that this will take care of him or her for the rest of their life. But what does he or she do about eternity? He or she spends very little time preparing for it. It takes wisdom to prepare for eternity and those who are wise are living for Christ. It is not enough just to know about Jesus Christ; we must actually live for Him. Can we honestly say we love God more than possessions? God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus Christ to die for us to restore our relationship with Him. We can only enter into this relationship when we accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

The parable of the ten virgins teach us that not everyone is prepared for Christ’s return and that everyone is responsible for his or her own spiritual condition. The virgins depict those professing a belief in Christ but many, half of them, are making the same mistake that the Jews made. They are presuming on a relationship with God that they do not have. The faithful Christians, those who keep their lamps burning, are the ones who have a relationship with Christ. They have placed their faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord and daily seek to freshen and deepen that relationship through prayer, through the study of God’s Word, and through fellowship with other Christians.

This parable should make us look at ourselves very critically. Not everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian will take part in the celebrations when Christ returns. To impress this in the minds of his hearers Jesus uses a wedding celebration. According to Jewish custom it was customary for the bridesmaids to wait together at a home for the bridegroom to come and bring them to the wedding feast. During this time the bridegroom would negotiate with the brides family about a gift to give them in return for their daughter. Often, the negotiations would be delayed by the bride’s parents as a way of communicating that they thought their daughter was worth much more than the groom had gestured by his initial gift. That could cause a delay in the wedding feast. In Jesus’ parable, the bridesmaids were waiting through just such a delay. In such a delay, they were to be ready at any moment for him to arrive and escort them to the feast. Five of them, however, were not ready. They had time to get the extra oil they needed, but they did not feel the sense of urgency to do it right away. Their procrastination caused embarrassment when the groom came and they had to run to the store for more oil. The problem was that when they returned and sought entrance to the feast, they were considered no different than other uninvited seekers. The feast had begun and the doors were locked. It was too late. We need to be ready when Jesus Christ returns. Spiritual preparation cannot be bought or borrowed at the last minute. Our relationship with God must be our own. Our readiness is based on inward character and not on outward appearances. The foolish looked just like the wise. They all went to greet the bridegroom at the same time. For all outward appearances, they looked the same.

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