The Wise Brought Flasks of Oil - Matthew 25:3-4

Working Like the Lamp Ladies

Life is full of work. Sometimes that work can be satisfying and interesting; sometimes it’s brain-numbingly dull and feels pointless. How I view my work and how I can choose to make work important is vital to whether or not I enjoy my work. In reading the parable of the 10 virgins, I realized that the wise virgins had an understanding of preparing that can help me understand truths to help me maintain a sense of value in my work, even on the days when I feel like it doesn’t matter.

The parable of the 10 virgins is in Matthew 25:1-12 and it tells how they handle keeping their lamp lit (or not) while they wait for the return of the bridegroom. While this is a parable about waiting for the return of Jesus, like all scripture, its truth can apply on many levels in many ways to my life. By thinking about what made the differences in the decisions between the two groups of women, I can see in this passage two truths that relate to understanding preparing for work.

For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. … And while [the foolish] were going to buy [oil], the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. – Matthew 25:3-4, 10 ESV

There’s two things those 5 wise women had to believe in order to want to take their oil with them. First, they had to think about what they have. If you have a lamp and you’re going to take it with you, perhaps on a camping trip, at some point you have to stop and think about what you’ll need to make the lamp work. There’s nothing worse than showing up at a campsite after dark and not having light you need to set up camp because you forgot the batteries to the flashlight. You can forget setting up the tent in the dark; you’ll be sleeping in the car, right?

I can apply this to my work in the sense that God has called me to certain assignments (Ephesians 2:10). The unwise response is to wander through life just seeing what happens. The wise response is to understand the gifts, talents, and resources that have been given to me. It’s about taking stock of what I have and knowing how to go about completing my assignments with what God’s provided me. The women with the lamps had to know if they had oil in the house already to take with them or if they needed to do a marketplace run to buy oil before they set out. The foolish virgins were more worried about going than about taking stock of what they had and what they needed.

The next thing the wise virgins did is that they had to believe that what they had taken with them was enough. Since they didn’t know when he was coming, they had to take what they had and trust it would be enough.

Sometimes in life it can feel like what I can see available to me isn’t going to meet my needs. The usual two culprits that make me nervous are time and money. Do I have enough time to get everything done? Do I have enough money to pay all the bills? I must choose to believe that, after taking stock of what I have and using it wisely, I will have enough to get me from one point to the next. I don’t have all the money I need for my whole life, and time only comes one moment after another. However, as it comes and as I live life, I must choose to believe that in all areas of my life, what I have will be enough.

The final thought on this concept is that, when all 10 virgins had burning lamps, no one would have been able to tell the difference between the wise and the foolish. Only after time had run on and the oil in the lamp ran out, would you be able to truly see who had prepared and who hadn’t.

I believe that as I work hand in hand with the Holy Spirit that the wise decisions that He is asking me to will be a blessing to me as I live. I may not understand somethings as to why He’s asking me to do them this way or at this time. I may not be able to see a difference in the result of my life yet compared to others that are living foolishly. However, I believe that as we see the results of our life choices playing out in our life, the wisdom of living as the Lord leads will be apparent to all.