By Ryan Shaw
Ryan is the international lead facilitator for Global Mission Mobilization Initiative (GMMI) and currently lives among the unreached.
The Parable of the Virgins
There is a direct correlation with the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13. All ten are meant to be seen as believers who were waiting for their Bridegroom. They all expected Him, but the primary teaching of the parable is that not all had “burning hearts.” Five had oil in their lamps and five had run out. The five who ran out ask the five who had some left to give them some of their oil. This request is denied. What was going on here?
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, oil is almost always seen as a representation of the Holy Spirit. The oil in the lamps refers to an alive, experiential, Holy Spirit inspired, radiant love and discipleship among believers. The oil testifies of a vibrant, fervent and intimate devotional life where the Spirit teaches, trains, provides revelation, correction and guidance on an ongoing basis. This isn’t necessarily true 100% of the time but the bent of the heart is in pursuit of this.
The lack of oil refers to believers who started well yet have tapered off in their devotional life. They have become nominal. Spiritual gifts go uncultivated and unused and spiritual fruit is minimal. Love for the lost is cold and commitment to obey Jesus’ commands weak.
They have a form of Christianity and participate in the rituals, but the abundant life is absent. Their prayer lives appear dutiful and dull with sensitivity to sin numbed. Obtaining oil in the lamps has to be done through God’s scripturally prescribed manner. We cannot ask another to give us some of their “burning heart.” It doesn’t work that way.
Obtaining oil has to be cultivated personally as we give ourselves to becoming a believer clothed with the Word of God and invite the Holy Spirit to have His way in us, working His processes into our experience with Christ.
This is not an overnight process. Obtaining oil in our lamps simply means we get back to allowing the Holy Spirit His rightful place of teaching and training and in so doing develop a “burning heart” on the inside.
This parable is a warning parable of the need to keep our hearts growing with fresh love for Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The call to “watch” is just this….to watch our own hearts in order to guard them from buying into the spiritual malaise of cultural Christianity all around us and in so doing, lose the “burning heart” of vital intimate fellowship with Christ, becoming nominal.
Ready for His Return
Thankfully, this parable speaks directly to the time of Jesus’ return and the individual believers’ responsibility to have a bright and shining lamp in anticipation. The five foolish virgins tried, at that late date, to get spiritual “reality” in their lives and they paid a steep price for it.
However, part of the message of the parable is that today we can change our situation. For those who do not presently have oil, we can get it. There is hope in our day. We can proactively give ourselves to “buying” oil by giving ourselves to intentional study and meditation of the Word, growing in revelation of Jesus and His ways, and inviting the Spirit to teach us and in so doing cultivate a “burning heart.” It is imperative that we do so now, in order to not be caught without oil on that day when no further opportunities present themselves.