How Much Oil is in Your Lamp?
As I write, my brother in law, Peter, lays dying of cancer.
The prognosis is grim. I look at his frail body lying on the bed
and compare it with the fit, young man who loved to start the day
with a long jog.
Sometime ago, I was mulling over what Jesus’ second
coming really means and wondering if the thought of it was really
affecting my life and decisions. After consideration, I realized
that very few people allow it to colour their lives and futures,
thereby missing out on immeasurable blessings.
Whilst re-reading the three stories in Matthew 25, a number of
points hit me. The context of the passage is the return of Jesus
in judgment and it begins with the story of the 10 virgins. They
all went to a wedding and as was the custom, they waited for the
bridegroom’s surprise arrival. They all took a nap and when
he arrived, several things happened. The five who valued the
‘wedding’ had thought ahead to what might be
necessary, and were prepared with extra oil. The
other five, not valuing the event, made no effort to be prepared,
possibly thinking that they would pick up what was necessary
later down the line.
Then the bridegroom came and the Bible says, "... and
those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding;
and the door was shut." After running off to purchase some more
oil, the foolish virgins returned and asked to be let in. The
bridegroom refused because He didn’t ‘know’
them. This is followed by the moral of the story which is to
actively watch (or prepare) because we do not know when the Lord
will be returning.
Nowhere does it mention what the oil represented but it would
appear to be a commodity that was precious and not shareable. The
point is that the foolish virgins did not care enough about the
event (wedding) to prepare themselves with ‘oil’ for
it so they missed out.
The second story is about the Master leaving behind his
servants with varying amounts of money i.e. 5, 2 and 1 talents,
and instructions to make a profit. When he returns, he holds an
accounting and commends the first two servants for doubling their
money by saying that since they were faithful over a few things,
He would make them rulers over many things.
When He finds that the last servant didn’t make any
effort with the talent that he was given, the master flies into a
rage and furiously resents the fact that the servant didn’t
even try to invest it in the bank so that it would gain interest.
He then ordered that the wasted talent be given to the first
servant stating "For to everyone who has, more will be given...
but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken
away." Because the first servant used the money wisely, the
Master knew that if he gave him the unprofitable servant’s
portion, he would also use it well.
There is no neutral ground spoken of here. The unprofitable
servant, because he wasted his opportunity, was
then thrown into outer darkness with ‘weeping and gnashing
of teeth’ – a picture of someone grinding their teeth
in despair for their own stupidity!
At the story of the judgment, Jesus separates the sheep and
goats, blessing the sheep because they were proactive with the
‘money’ (talents) that He gave i.e. they visited the
sick and imprisoned, gave out water and food to the needy...in
essence, they showed Christ’s love through their actions.
The goats were condemned because they didn’t.
Considering Peter (my 39 year old brother in law) in the light
of these stories, I see a man who, when younger, did not stand
out in a crowd. He had no major opinions to put forward and was
just happy to be included. He had no aspirations to be a leader
but he loved the Lord.
However, the time came when the Master showed him a talent He
had invested in him, and asked him to do something with it. He
did, responding to the call to go on the mission field for a
period of years, using his one talent to step out and help
others, thus Peter became a two talent man. Then the Master asked
him to move on into other fields where more was required of him
and, trusting God, he stepped out and became a four talent man.
As God has asked, he has stepped out again and again. He has
become a ten talent man and more. His lamp is full and he has oil
When the bridegroom comes, He will be welcoming wise people
like Peter, who have prepared their reserves of oil by
‘being Jesus’ to those in need. The question we need
to ask ourselves is, when He shuts the door to the wedding feast,
which side of it will we be on?