17 The beginning of wisdoma is the most sincere desire for instruction,
and concern for instruction is love of her,
18 and love of her is the keeping of her laws,
and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality,
19 and immortality brings one near to God;
20 so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 Brothers, we want you to know about those who have died. We do not want you to be sad as others who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and that he rose again. So, because of Jesus, God will bring together with Jesus those who have died. 15 What we tell you now is the Lord’s own message. We who are living now may still be living when the Lord comes again. We who are living at that time will be with the Lord, but not before those who have already died. 16 The Lord himself will come down from heaven. There will be a loud command with the voice of the archangel[a] and with the trumpet call of God. And those who have died and were in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, those who are still alive at that time will be gathered up with them. We will be taken up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So comfort each other with these words.
25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten girls who went to wait for the bridegroom. They took their lamps with them. 2 Five of the girls were foolish and five were wise. 3 The five foolish girls took their lamps, but they did not take more oil for the lamps to burn. 4 The wise girls took their lamps and more oil in jars. 5 The bridegroom was very late. All the girls became sleepy and went to sleep.
6 “At midnight someone cried out, ‘The bridegroom is coming! Come and meet him!’ 7 Then all the girls woke up and got their lamps ready. 8 But the foolish girls said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.’ 9 The wise girls answered, ‘No! The oil we have might not be enough for all of us. Go to the people who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “So the five foolish girls went to buy oil. While they were gone, the bridegroom came. The girls who were ready went in with the bridegroom to the wedding feast. Then the door was closed and locked.
11 “Later the others came back. They called, ‘Sir, sir, open the door to let us in.’ 12 But the bridegroom answered, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13 “So always be ready. You don’t know the day or the time the Son of Man will come.
Heavenly Father, we ask that you help us to use our ears to hear your Word and our mouths to share it. To allow our hearts and minds to understand your message, and to help us to fulfill the roles you have given us, that we may serve you and all mankind. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
How often do you hear your parents say something along the lines of,” We are leaving in 10 mins, get your shoes and coat on.”? I know my girls hear that several times a day. I also know that it usually does little to no good, and we end up hurrying them to get their shoes on while running 5 minutes late. I am willing to bet that is probably how it goes in most houses with kids of all ages. So why do we, as parents, keep doing it, giving a “10 minute warning” and trying to get everyone ready so we can leave on time? If it doesn’t work, why not save our breath?
There are two reasons, love and learning. Parents know that if we keep this up for years, on a daily basis, eventually it will sink in and kids will learn to get ready when they are supposed to. The hope is that kids will learn to look at a situation or an appointment, or the schedule of their day, and plan when to get ready themselves. If a person can learn to be on time, and prepare themselves to be ready, then they can learn to be a success in any field. Whether you want to be a teacher, a baseball player, or an astronaut when you grow up, if you are not able to keep a schedule and be prepared for things, you will not be successful. Imagine if you went to school and your teacher had slept in, or a baseball player who shows up to bat after the inning has ended, or the astronaut who misses launch because they didn’t fill up their car’s gas tank.
That covers the learning part, love comes in with the fact that parents keep it up, and keep it up, and keep it up, for years. For the most part, it is not something that will benefit the parents but is just to help the kid. The other side to this is something worth thinking about too. Why are we all, kids and adults, so slow to react and prepare. Why do we not get ready when we are told to?
Sometimes it is just a matter of being distracted. If you are working on homework, reading or playing a game, you might not be paying enough attention to hear your parents say it is time to get ready. Sometimes it is a matter of doing something that is more interesting or exciting. If you are watching a really good TV show, you might just not want to get ready, to do the work it takes to prepare. Finally, it might be a fear of missing out. If something else is going on, you might not want to look away for the time it takes to put your shoes on and get ready. This is true for adults as well; it is even easier for grownups to get distracted by everyday things like phones, bills, driving, etc. So what happens when we are not prepared for something that is really important, like God?
Jesus tells a story of ten girls waiting for a bridegroom. Does anyone know what a bridegroom is? It is really just an old word for a groom, or the man in a wedding. In the story Jesus tells in Matthew, there are ten girls waiting for a man to come and marry them, it was going to be a long wait and at night so they each brought a lamp. The only problem was the half of the girls didn’t bring any extra oil and their lamps went out while they were waiting. When this happened those five girls asked the other five, who did bring extra oil, to share with them. If they all shared the remaining oil though, none of the lamps would have enough oil to last until morning, and they had no idea when the bridegroom was going to show up. The five that ran out of oil had to go and buy more, which probably was quite an issue in the middle of the night and not very close to the market. While those five were away, the bridegroom showed up and they missed out. Imagine if you were going to a parade that started a certain time, and your parents said to be ready fifteen minutes before the parade started so you could make it on time. Now imagine that your friends were going to, but they got ready like their parents said, while you decided to watch five extra minutes of TV, then get ready. Your friends were prepared, showed up on time and got to see the parade. You were not prepared, showed up late, and missed the parade. This is just what happened to the ten girls, five were prepared and met the bridegroom, five were not and were off buying oil and missed out.
The key here is that the bridegroom is not really a bridegroom, and what is missed is not just a chance to get married. The bridegroom is God, is Jesus, and what is missed out on is the Kingdom of Heaven. Paul warns the Thessalonians, that Jesus is coming back, and when he does, everyone who is ready will be called by God to be with Jesus, to join the Kingdom of Heaven. But, we each have to be ready and we have no idea when it will happen. Our parents are able to say, we are leaving in ten minutes, get your shoes and coat on. If we are not ready, if we spend an extra five minutes watching TV we are missing out on the one thing that really matters. So, we need to pay attention, we need to prepare, and we need to be ready every day. Amen