Matthew 25, 7-11
Something to read
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
King James Version
'Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." But the wise replied, "No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves." And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, "Lord, lord, open to us."'
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Were the wise bridesmaids being exceptionally selfish in refusing to share their oil? If they had shared it, all ten of them might have missed the wedding, not just those who had been unprepared.
The foolish ones had to make the same preparations as everyone else. In other words, there are no short cuts to God's kingdom. The bridesmaids had the frustrating experience of missing the all-important wedding feast because, despite their long wait, they had chosen not to bother with the details of being prepared, they had not really been waiting well.
Waiting well for the Lord's return includes paying attention to detail in how we live our lives in the meantime. This doesn't mean that the foolish among us are automatically doomed. There are plenty of wise people around to demonstrate good Christian living: foolishness lies in not bothering to follow their example. And wisdom lies in recognising the danger of throwing in one's lot with the foolish.
Something to do
Think of an occasion in the past, or even in the future, when it was or will be important to be able to say no. Ask yourself why this is a wise course of action.
Something to pray
Lord, help me to focus on what really matters, even when it may seem trivial.
Today's contributor is the Rev Dr Paula Clifford, Christian Aid's Head of Theology.