Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, “Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.” And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he answered, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.”
The military uses words like “combat readiness” or “operational readiness” to define a unit’s preparedness, functionality, training, and overall ability to perform military operations consistently and effectively with the purpose for which they were designed to complete.
Recently in a Tuesday morning Men’s Bible Study led by Pastor Steve Seaton, we covered the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25: 1-12. In this passage, it’s clear to us that Jesus is the “bridegroom,” and the point of this parable is our need to be prepared and ready for Jesus’s return— “faith readiness,” if you will.
Initially, something didn’t sit right with me about this parable. Something stuck out; it felt harsh. It didn’t feel like the proper Christian response from the five “wise” virgins to the five “foolish” virgins. I felt that if the hour came and I was prepared, I wouldn’t be able to turn another away. I would want them to come join us in the feast, to rejoice in the coming of the Lord! Troubled by this, I asked Pastor Seaton and our group of men that morning if they could speak into the struggle I was having with understanding this parable.
Simply put, it’s faith. Pastor Seaton shared a perspective I hope you will see, too: he shared that he was very thankful he grew up in a family where his parents lived with abiding faithfulness to God, but he also had to learn that they couldn’t just give him their faith—he had to build his own faith with God.
Suddenly, I felt the passage speak differently to me. It didn’t seem as harsh. What if the word “oil” is substituted with “faith”? What does that look like? The five wise women built up their faith; they were prepared with God’s Word; they had functioned and trained their lives in God’s Word—they had “faith readiness,” something that simply cannot be given away to another. And maybe it’s fair to say the five wise virgins were telling the five foolish virgins where to go to get their faith, hoping they would have time.
I may be reaching, but I know what’s true here is that we each need, individually, to be prepared.
Where do we start? Our walks with the Lord look different—with different steps, different seasons in different ways—but he knows you and knows your heart, so I encourage you to start there with surrender. Surrender yourself and place Christ at the center of your heart. Allow the one, the only one, who can transform and perfect your faith to live richly within you. Seek God first in all you do, and pray!
Thank you for this day! Prepare our hearts to receive your love, and open our minds to grow in your Word. Guide our steps so that by your grace, we may build our faith in you, trust in you, and abide in you. For Christ is the vine and we are the branches; prune away our impurities so we can center our lives on Jesus and glorify you.
In Jesus name,
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