“Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” ~Matthew 25:13
We generally focus on the differences between the ten virgins in Jesus’ story in Matthew 25. Afterall, five were wise and five were foolish. Five packed extra oil and five didn’t. But have you ever examined their similarities? Upon close inspection, these ten women are all exactly alike. They’re the same.
They’re all virgins. Completely pure. Unstained. Totally cleansed. All ten virgins are righteous. They’ve all ten been invited by the bridegroom to the feast. There are no party-crashers here. All ten are on the list. They’ve all accepted the invitation. They’re all planning to attend the wedding. They’re all looking forward to the bridegroom’s coming. They all have lamps. They all have oil. They’re all drowsy. They all fall asleep. They’re also completely alike in their knowledge and their ignorance. They all ten know the bridegroom is coming. And they all ten have absolutely no idea when.
So what makes the wise virgins wise and the foolish virgins foolish? The wise girls had prepared for an extended wait. The foolish girls hadn’t even considered that possibility.
Please understand: if the bridegroom had come at 9:30pm instead of midnight, they’d all ten be in. Have you ever considered that? If the bridegroom shows up just a couple of hours earlier, the foolish virgins are in just like the wise. Those five girls were lost when the bridegroom delayed his coming.
It’s all about being steadfast and finishing the race. Jesus had been warning about it all through chapter 24. Verse 13, he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Verse 42, keep watch because you do not know. Verse 44, be ready, because he’ll come when you don’t expect it.
Be ready. Stand firm. Be prepared. Pack the extra oil. Because we don’t know. You might have 20 more years or you might have 20 more minutes. But we’re called as disciples of Christ to live our lives—every moment to the very end—in a continual state of preparedness. Readiness.
What does that look like?
We are ready to meet Jesus when our relationships with God and with others are what they should be. We are ready when, at any moment of our day, whether in the privacy of our own homes, out in public with friends and co-workers, or in the deep recesses of our minds, we are not ashamed to have the Lord meet us. When we’re living the way our God calls us to live, we’re ready. We’re prepared.
It’s a race. It’s a marathon. And the call is to finish it. Finish it. Don’t quit. It doesn’t matter how you start. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve stumbled. It doesn’t matter that you’re in last place and you’ve been lapped six times. All that matters is that you finish.
The New York Giants started the season 0-2.
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~Hebrews 12:1-3