Today’s Text and Thoughts of Encouragement:
“Casting the whole of your care, all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all on Him, for He cares about you watchfully.”
1 Peter 5: 7
“The Lord calls for our burdens, He would not have us wrestle with them ourselves, but roll them over on Him. Now, the desires that are breathed forth in prayer are, as it were, the very unloading of the heart; each request that goes forth, carries out somewhat of the burden with it, and lays it on God. Tell Him what are your desires, and leave them there with Him, and so you are sure to be rid of all further disquieting care of them.”
“Roll, roll your burdens away, for Jesus has promised to take them all, so roll, roll your burdens away.”
Today’s Study Text:
“At midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘There will not be enough for us and for now; go instead to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’”
Matthew 25: 7 - 9
“Some Things Can’t Be Borrowed!” – Part 8
“The truly wise are those whose souls are in Christ.”
In my spiritual life, what do I think I cannot borrow from another?
What should the foolish virgins have been doing during the lengthy time of waiting?
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”
“The only true wisdom is to be always prepared to meet God, to put nothing off which concerns eternity and to live like I’m ready to depart at any moment.”
J. C. Ryle
When my sister and I were young, our parents laid out some very specific rules. that we were to obey. One very distinct memory I have is that we were informed that there would be no “name-calling” in our home. In particular, my parents forbid us to call anyone a “fool.” It didn’t matter if our friends used that word, it was forbidden in our household.
So, you can imagine my delight when I thought I’d really pulled one on my mom and dad by pointing out the fact that Jesus called 5 bridesmaids foolish. Of course, my parents weren’t amused at all. As they advised, Jesus had a very specific reason for identifying half of the bridesmaids as foolish. As the years have passed, I would have to agree completely with Jesus’ assessment of the behavior of the five girls in the parable we are studying.
As our text for today tells us, after being awakened by the “herald” who called out the news, ‘The bridegroom has arrived,’ we can only begin to envision the hasty activity which took place as the celebratory group began to make certain their lamps were lit and shining.
There was only one problem. There were five women who were short of oil. And interestingly, because the bridegroom arrived at the darkest hour, the five flameless lamps were desperately needed. We must remember that without electricity, the lighted lamps became necessary in order for everyone to see where they were going. In fact, all 10 bridesmaids had a very special task – they were at the wedding to light the way. It is quite possible their only “job” was to be “illuminators.” Yet five of the girls completely failed. And so when the bridegroom got to his beloved’s parent’s home, the way most likely seemed dim. Even dark.
As David Redding shares in his book, The Parables He Told, “The five foolish girls ran in vain to the wise to borrow oil. Not because the wise (weren’t) generous. This is a parable, not an allegory. This is the parables way of saying you can’t lend wisdom on the spur of the moment. No matter how much the five wise wanted and were willing to sacrifice for the foolish, there is a limit to how much could be done for the foolish at the last minute. Wisdom is not marketable. Instant wisdom has not been developed.”
In his commentary on the book of James, author Thomas Manton, writing in the 17th century, clearly laid-out the way you and I can have our lives infused with heavenly wisdom: “Christ’s eye-salve must clear your sight, or else you cannot make a right judgment: there is no proper and fit apprehension of things till you get within the veil, and see by the light of a sanctuary lamp.” No wonder Solomon left us with the key to obtaining wisdom: “the Lord gives skillful and godly Wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He hides away sound and godly Wisdom and stores it for the righteous” (Proverbs 2: 6, 7, Amplified Bible).
However, wisdom is not the only gift of God which cannot be borrowed or lent. William Barclay identifies two other qualities which we cannot borrow, no matter how much we desire these gifts. As author Barclay writes, “There are two things of supreme importance which cannot be borrowed. Faith cannot be borrowed. A common charge is laid against our generation – that we are living on the spiritual capital of our fathers. What is meant is this. We want the world to be a place where human life is respected, where virtue is honored, where we obey the law of God. (But) what are we doing to keep it so? Are we ourselves men and women of prayer?...But there is something more personal than that…When we are faced with some overmastering temptation, or some difficult task, we cannot conquer that temptation or shoulder that task in someone else’s strength…It is then our plain duty to build up a faith which is our own faith and which cannot be shaken.”
I don’t know about you but developing a faith in my Father to carry me through life’s most difficult events isn’t easy. It’s very hard to face one problem after another. What’s more, it isn’t something that comes easily for if you are like me, it seems better to take the painless way through our journey. Scottish author George MacDonald penned one of my favorite thoughts about faith: “Let us step into the darkness and reach out for the hand of God. The path of faith and darkness is so much safer than the one we would choose by sight.” When I first came upon this thought I had to let it roll around in my head for a while. It seems that wanting the journey of my life to be effortless and uncomplicated was how I would like to proceed. But the life-lesson I’ve learned is that the tougher the problem and the larger the challenge and the more I lean on my Father for help, the more I learn how much I can trust Him in everything! There’s such a blessing in learning day-by-day how strong my Father is and what a reliable and trustworthy Friend He has proven to be in my own life. If everything was simple, I would never know the depth and width of my Father’s strength to hold me up. And neither would you.
In the end, there’s another thing we cannot borrow and it is our character. As William Barclay states, “When it comes to living life we have to live it with ourselves as we are. What makes this doubly important is that in the end, character is all we can take with us from this world; and the only character we can take is our own.”
An important lesson for us to draw from the bridesmaids is this: while they all had to wait, it was the time of waiting where they made certain they were prepared to meet the bridegroom no matter how prolonged the delay. As Pastor James Redding penned: “We have all been invited to a wedding. None of us knows exactly when it will take place. But we know that we will have to secure oil now to be ready for any emergency. We will have to think about it now and get in the right frame of mind and heart now in order to be (ready) for that midnight when we hear ‘The bridegroom’s cry of joy.’”
“O Lord, how happy should we be,
If we could cast our care on Thee,
If we from self could rest,
And feel at heart that One above
In perfect wisdom, perfect love,
Is working for the best.
How far from this our daily life
How oft disturbed by anxious strife,
By sudden wild alarms;
Oh, could we but relinquish all
Our earthly props, and simply fallOn Thine Almighty arms!”
“Almighty God, give us wisdom to perceive You, intellect to understand You, diligence to seek You, patience to wait for You, eyes to behold You, a heart to meditate upon You and life to proclaim You, through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Attributed to St. Benedict
The Psalm of Life
“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Finds us farther than today…
Trust no future, however pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God overhead!
Lives of great (ones) all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing over life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us the be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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