Your Own Oil
Saturday Afternoon, December 9, 1995
A discussion with two saints making marriage covenant with each other and those who were sharing the time with them.
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any extra oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out, ‘Here’s the bridegroom. Come out to meet him.’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.’ ‘No’, they replied. ‘There may not be enough for both us and for you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The ones who were ready went in with them to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Sir, sir’, they said. ‘Open the door for us.’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth. I don’t know you.’ Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13, NIV)
As you know, JESUS is the bridegroom in this story. There is a song about this story and one line in that song talks about being ready for the Father to say, “Today your wedding day has come.” I don’t know if the song mentioned the virgins or I just thought of it, but it struck me really hard that the primary reason for having a relationship with someone, the primary reason this Church exists … is to make sure there is not a single person in our sphere of influence who doesn’t have oil, their own oil when the bridegroom comes. That’s why we are here. We are not here for the sake of entertainment. And, that’s why sometimes things are hard, or challenging, or difficult. That’s why hard things are said to us sometimes, and that’s why we have to say hard things to others. Those things happen. And why? Well, notice the context of that teaching in Matthew 25. There’s the parable of the sheep and the goats and the parable of the talents. These are very serious things that Jesus is saying again and again. He is saying, “Please, I beg you. Be ready. Be ready.” Being a nice person isn’t good enough. There were ten virgins—not five virgins and five immoral people. There were ten virgins. Were they all human? Sure, they all fell asleep. They were all just normal people. But the difference was that five of them were ready. Five were prepared. They had stocked their own oil, and they were ready. They had something for themselves that was stored up against that Day, while others were sloppy or lazy about it.
Our primary job with each other, with everyone we know (whether there are 300, 3,000 or 300,000 in the Church that Jesus has put us in), is to “see to it brothers that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart” (Hebrews 3:12). See to it, brothers, that every last one of you has oil. Make sure your lamp is burning brightly, you have your own oil, and you can face Jesus with some true Life inside of you—not just a good life. In the story Jesus told, a good life didn’t make it. That wasn’t enough in that case. Make sure there is something real, something tangible, the oil of God flowing in us and through us and out of us—not just survivors. The “survivors” didn’t survive. They didn’t make it. As sincere as they were, they didn’t make it. Our primary job with each other is to make sure that everyone has oil—to make sure that no one is too lazy to gather and store the oil, and to make sure that no one burns their oil on selfishness and pride, or fear of failure before God or man. Make sure that you are not burning up all of your oil on stupid, foolish, silly, worldly personality things and not wanting God’s Will for your life. When you are living like that, it makes you fight, fight, fight against God’s Will… or, you don’t want to devote yourself to other people because they might hurt you or something.
We know where each other’s struggles lie. Part of being family is that we know where the struggles are. We know where the challenges are. But we can’t be afraid to face each other courageously and say, “You have to have oil. You have to! I’m going to fight for you to have oil so there are no surprises on judgment day.”
What’s the purpose of a marriage? It’s to help someone in very close proximity to have a whole truck full of oil. That’s the purpose. Marriage is not for our entertainment. It does not exist so that we can be happy, so that we can be satisfied, so that all our needs can be met. Whatever things come our way along those lines, that’s wonderful. It’s a gift of God. He loves to give good gifts to His children. But that’s not the purpose of marriage. The reason marriage exists, the reason God Sovereignly put you in that relationship (whether that relationship is marriage, some other form of deep relationship, or even a sort of cursory/superficial relationship), is that He has called us to make sure everyone has oil… and to fight for each other in that way. I commission you in Jesus’ name not to let having a good time with each other be your primary objective. Rather, make sure each of you, individually, has oil. Make sure you are passionate to see that the other has that oil, and for what children God may grace you with to have that oil too.
Also, help each other help others around you have that oil, and commission each other to go out and multiply and fill the earth with oil so that satan drowns in God’s Holy Spirit oil. That’s God’s call. That’s why we are here, and that’s the future that you are vowing to one another in marriage. That’s the future we have vowed to each other in all of the relationships God has given us. It’s not for our entertainment. It’s not so we can be happy, or so we can enjoy this or that. If that happiness comes, it comes. But the main issue is—will we help each other not be taken by surprise when the Bridegroom comes back? Will we help each other to have lots and lots and lots of oil? Because, as Jesus made clear, you can’t borrow from someone else on that day! You can’t borrow someone else’s oil. It has to be yours. It has to come because you have developed that oil. You birthed that life in Jesus and it’s real, and you’ve not burnt up your oil on some other selfish pursuit.
When you are busy having an attitude about something, can’t you feel the oil burning up? Can’t you, in your heart, feel it burning, burning away when you have a judgment of someone? When you are being selfish or you are being deceitful can’t you feel that oil burning up inside of yourself? I can. When I have those attitudes, when I have reactions, I feel God’s Holy Oil burning up, and it causes my heart to panic… in the right way. I’m not going to burn up my oil on anything. I want to be ready when He comes. I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I want to be ready when He comes.
I want to make this point. When the Father says, “Son, your wedding day has come,” there will be five virgins—not five Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus—but five people who are there waiting for Jesus, who will be surprised because they don’t have oil of their own. It’s our job to see to it brothers and see to it sisters, within the beautiful relationships that He has given us and is giving you now and in the future… that each one has an abundance of oil, and that we help each other to help others do that too.