One of the many little songs we learned as children is Give Me Oil in My Lamp. The tune is familiar to us and the words stay with us as well. I am reminded of vacation Bible school, handmade napkin holders, and felt figures on a green cloth board picturing the Jericho Road and the Good Samaritan. This little song remains in my memory and continues to teach a vital lesson in the Christian life.
One of the musts for all folks who own a car is to check the oil! If you ignore the check you could ruin your engine for good! In this Season of Lent, I believe it is a great time to “check the oil” in our hearts to see if we are fully protected against the friction in our lives which wears out the inner spiritual lining of our souls just as oil protects the inter cylinders of an engine.
To extend the metaphor we may include the fuel in our gas tanks. Who would start across a desert road without checking the gas gauge?
During this contemplative season we would do well to examine our lives and answer the questions “Are we ready for the Second coming?” and” Are we prepared to go out to Him when He knocks at the door of our hearts?” Will our lamps be burning or will they be burned out? Of course the “oil” of which I write is the “oil” of faith and sudden appearing of the Lord’s return which Jesus had in mind when he taught the haunting parable from Matthew 25:1-13.
Jesus taught a vital parable about oil in the lamps of the bridesmaids called “The Parable of the Ten Virgins.” In this parable is the essence of Christian life preparedness. Being ready for the Lord’s coming is our responsibility. Jesus wanted us to take note of this truth about the Second Coming, so we might be ready to go with Him, be with Him, and have eternal life.
Five of the maidens were ready. They brought oil enough for the wait. The New International Study Bible footnote helps us understand the scene better when we read: Ten virgins: The bridesmaids who were responsible for preparing the bride to meet the bridegroom. Lamps: Torches that consisted of a long pole with oil-drenched rags at the top. (Small clay lamps would have been of little use in an outdoor procession.)
These five wise maidens were prepared for the coming of the groom. They had thought ahead for they were aware that no one knew when He might come. It may be sudden or in the distant future. Jesus taught even to the end of his teaching ministry that no one will know the time (Acts 1:6-7). Our responsibility is to be ready. Our loving God has warned us of this suddenness so we might be saved. An unloving God would have taught nothing and just come suddenly, leaving us behind.
Therefore, the lesson teaches us of His grace and leaves us time for a season – a time until. However, for us all, until the Second Coming our time to respond comes to an end when we die. After death, there is no more time to prepare or to decide. The groom comes and calls us out by name. The question for all of us is, “Am I ready?”
The five foolish maidens were not bad people, but they were foolish insomuch as they were not ready for the sudden coming. Their oil ran out. In a foolish life, one would run out of “spiritual oil” or that Oil of the Spirit which illumines our path. Being ready is surrendering ourselves to Him completely, turning our lives around by way of repentance, and living each hour for Him. It means not putting off the decision to follow Him. Jesus said, “Come, follow me – pick up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24-28).
Some who are reading this message need to surrender all of their life to the Lord Jesus. They need to make Him first in all they do. Some are waiting until they are “good” before they say yes, as though anyone could be good enough. Do not put it off one more day.
Dear friends, there is oil enough for the wise who love the Lord. Trim your lamps – read your Bible, pray, praise, and love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. Come to church and praise His name. Come together with others who trim their lamps in the abundance of God’s grace (Hebrews 10:25).
Some early morning there will come out of the darkness a cry, “Here’s the Bridegroom! Come out to meet Him!” During this season of Lent, take the time to check the “oil”—you will be blessed and glad you did!
Are you ready?
This article appeared in the Friedberg Moravian Church Folio in February, 2013.
Pastor G. Thomas (Tom) Shelton is pastor of Friedberg Moravian Church. He’ll be retiring from active ministry in June of 2013.