Do You Have Extra Oil?

“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 ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.  The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”

Matthew 25:1-5

The one thing I’ve learned to do, after working in Disaster Services for a time, is to keep extra things on hand just in case. This can include extra food, water, medicines, blankets, candles, matches, clothes, etc. These “extras” have helped me immensely when I least expected it, especially when I wasn’t able to get to the store to pick them up. When I would see that I was getting low on items, I would stock up whenever I was at the store to make sure I didn’t run out. Whenever I heard a storm might be approaching but didn’t know the exact time, I made sure I had what I needed. If I needed more, I would purchase it before the storm came. The point is that I always made sure I had reserves just in case.

In the story of the Ten Virgins, they knew ahead of time that the bridegroom (the Lord) would be coming, but they just didn’t know when. Five of the virgins were wise and made sure they had extra oil while they waited so they wouldn’t be in the dark. The other five, however, just had enough oil for the moment. They all knew that the bridegroom would be coming and had ample amount of time to prepare. Half of them chose to prepare and make sure they had enough of what they needed, but the other half chose to only prepare for a short period of time. Because of their lack of preparation, they expected the five wise virgins to share what they had with them. The problem is that if the five wise virgins had shared their oil, they would not have had enough for themselves and then all of them would be in the dark and wouldn’t be able to see when the bridegroom was coming and miss the wedding banquet. So the outcome was five went to the banquet and five missed out all because they were not prepared.

This story is very significant to us. We must be prepared for the coming of the Lord. Even Jesus, in the New Testament, tells us what to look for so we will be ready and not taken by surprise. Sadly, I have heard people, even Christians, say “people have been saying for years Christ is coming due to storms and different situations happening around the world, but He hasn’t come yet. It won’t be for a while“. That may be true, but it doesn’t mean we don’t prepare for that day. In the summer, we know winter is coming and storms will happen, but it doesn’t mean we don’t prepare ahead of time making sure we have “extras” on hand and that our homes are ready. Sometimes that may mean having extra boards to cover the windows if a hurricane is coming or another heating source and fuel in case our electricity goes out. If we wait until the last minute, these things may be bought out and now the risk of damage to our homes and to us is greater.

In the case of the ten virgins, the oil can represent our love and faith in Christ. The five wise virgins had extra oil…extra love and faith in their hearts. This meant that although they may get tired and fall asleep while waiting on the bridegroom, when He does come, they will be ready and will be able to see Him. We receive the “extra” through seeking Christ daily for renewed spiritual strength. The five foolish virgins only had enough love and faith for a short time and were not ready when the bridegroom came. They missed Him completely because they had to leave to go purchase more oil. When we do not meet with Christ daily, we won’t have the extra “oil” we need to get through the difficult times. Our faith and love will run out after a time and we will begin to become emotional and lose hope. The flame in our lamps, the light of Christ within us, will eventually go out and we will not shine brightly any longer. This means we will have no love and faith in our hearts anymore. When there is no love, there is coldness and when there is no faith, there is hopelessness. And when there is no light to see, there is only darkness. If we can’t see, we will get lost.

The scripture talked about falling asleep. How do we “fall asleep”? When we fall asleep, we are in a resting mode which makes us unaware of things that are happening or that could occur. When we sleep at night, we have no way of knowing if someone is breaking into our homes, if a fire starts up or if a dangerous storm is brewing outside and we are in its path. We aren’t aware of these things until they are upon us and by then it’s too late. But when we are awake, we are alert to our surroundings. We watch and listen to the news that informs us of a coming storm or problem. We may see someone outside our home that will clue us in that something is wrong and we must call the police. We may see a spark that warns us that a fire is beginning and we can stop it quickly with our fire extinguishers. When we spend time with God, He gives us warnings and advice on what to do. When we allow distractions and busyness to consume our lives, this puts us to sleep and therefore we are unaware of dangerous situations going on around us that could harm us.

The goal of the enemy is to pull us from the vine, Christ, so we receive no more nourishment from Him. If we have no more spiritual nourishment, we will wither away and die. Our hearts will become cold and bitter and we will be in darkness on the inside. How do we know if this is happening to us? We can tell by the following:

 – Our praying and Bible reading becomes less but our busyness with life becomes more. We replace reading and praying with more tv, movies, computers, work, etc.

 – We are becoming more distracted by situations and worldly things and less focused on Jesus and the work He has called us to do.

 – We have no patience nor forgiveness for others. Instead, we criticize  them more and love them less.

 – We do more cursing than blessing. We speak horribly to and about people instead of blessing them with kind words.

 – We seek to please ourselves more and God and others less

–  We have no desire to do the things we loved to do for the Lord as we once had. We prefer to remain isolated, comfortable in our homes and lifestyles.

 – What we once considered sinful, we now have tolerance for

– We are everything opposite of the fruit of the Spirit

When we are not in Christ and spending time with Him daily, we will become more like the world. As we can see, the world is becoming more and more angry, bitter and cold. In Matthew 24:12-13 Jesus gives us a warning about the end times and what to watch for:

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

We are seeing increased wickedness in the world…things we didn’t see or hear about twenty, thirty, even forty years ago we are seeing now. This is a time we must get even closer to Jesus in order to survive the coldness that is coming over our world.

If you find yourself going through this and realize you are out of “oil” to keep your lamp lit, don’t despair! There is still time! Begin today by making Jesus a priority in your life once again. Sometimes it’s just a matter of stirring up what was once in you and putting it into practice again. Begin by making time for God on a daily basis just like you use to. Even if you feel the internal struggle of not wanting to take the time to do it, you must remember it’s vital for your survival. This is where your spirit and your flesh will do battle. Start off with 20-30 minutes a day and gradually increase the time. If you got away from doing community work and helping others, set aside some time to do so. Pick at least one day out of the week to help someone. Sometimes that can simply be making a dinner for someone who is ill. Dropping some groceries off to a family in need. Passing down your children’s clothes to a family who is struggling to make ends meet. Holding a door open for someone whose arms are filled with children and bags. Saying a kind word to a cashier when you see others are giving them a hard time. Many times we think in order to do God’s work it must be something big and extravagant, but according to Matthew 25:34-36 it’s just a matter of feeding and clothing others, showing hospitality, taking care of those who are ill (including family members) and visiting those who are imprisoned:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 It’s showing grace and mercy to others as God shows it to us.

Take time today to seek God, repent from moving away from Him and then ask Him to give you the strength to get close to Him again. It’s just like exercise…in the beginning we don’t want to do it, but once we begin and keep at it, we begin to feel better and we do more of it. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted and distracted away by other things. Sometimes it happens so subtly we don’t even realize it until we see the negative effects. But once we realize it, we must take every means to move back closer to God in order to get back to where we were. This means we must remove the distractions…turn off our cellphones, TVs and computers. Utilize the extra time in a day we have to spend with God instead of thinking “after a long day at work I just want to relax”. Everyone has extra time, it’s just seeing it for one to realize it’s there:

 – The time you have to wait at the school during your child’s practice

 – The time you have to wait at the doctor’s office (and sometimes that can be a full hour!)

 – The time you have on your lunch break…take 30 minutes to eat and 30 minutes to read and pray

 – Turn off the tv 30 minutes early at night and spend time reading and praying

 – The time in the morning before the kids get up

 – The 20 minute drive to work or the 20 minute drive home

We have plenty of time, we just need to utilize it correctly. Make the time today to spend with God and start building up your reserve oil.

Lord, forgive me for moving away from you and allowing everything and everyone to come between you and I. Draw me close once again so I can build up my reserve oil and be prepared for when you come back for me. I don’t want to miss you! Lord, I ask that you nourish me on a daily basis. Remove the distractions from my life and help me to set up the priorities in the proper order beginning with You. Thank you, Lord, for not giving up on me and always knocking on the door of my heart, seeking me out and calling out to me. Keep my heart full of love and forgiveness, grace and mercy. I ask this in Jesus name…Amen.