We are five months into 2019, and it continues to demonstrate that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by a true prophet of God. We are in good hands, brothers and sisters. We are fortunate to have guidance in a vortex of confusion.
Last week during our “Come, Follow Me” lesson, we studied several of Christ’s parables, most notably, that of the Ten Virgins. Christ told this story as an allegory of His Second Coming (the arrival of the bridegroom), that there would be plenty of time for everyone to prepare (fill their lamps with oil) and that some would be ready (having extra) while others would not be ready (having little or none).
As is often the case with scripture study, certain things were made clear to me during this session that I had not before considered. I saw the allegory between the scriptures and things that are happening in the present day. Suddenly, I understood why the brethren were impressed to assign this parable to the faithful members of the Church, even as the world kicks off a month-long celebration of sin under the guise of love.
The key comes in verses 8- 12 of Matthew 25:
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps aare gone out.
9 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.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
Think about that for a moment. We of the Church are commanded to impart of our substance to the poor, to give to those who are in need. The scriptures are full of stories of faithful people helping prophets, or faithful Saints helping the destitute. The Lord has directed the leaders of the Church to engage in humanitarian work across the globe, and every month bishops collect fast offerings to help those who need it.
We know that we are supposed to share with those who need it.
To a point.
Why were the virgins waiting with oil? Presumably, it was necessary to be present at the festivities with the bridegroom, who represents Christ in the story. All ten virgins had time and means to acquire sufficient oil for this event, but some did not, and when the time came to act, they were not ready. They demanded the wise virgins bail them out.
And the wise virgins told them no.
They weren’t rude about it, but rather they were practical. “If we do this, none of us will make it.” And the reception of the bridegroom was open to those who had prepared themselves for it.
By what right could the foolish virgins have demanded that the wise virgins hand over their oil? There is no spiritual justification for it. They were in the wrong. The wise virgins even told them where to get more oil! “…go ye to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”
Who are they that sell? The true prophets, the apostles, the scriptures, the actual word of God. How were they to buy for themselves? Study it, act on it in faith, gain a testimony, and live it.
The foolish virgins had not done this. What had they done instead? It doesn’t matter. They were told where and how to be ready, just not when. They could have done it. They chose not to.
And when they tried to get in anyway, the bridegroom–the Lord–turned them away.
There will be those who highlight the Lord’s charity, His love, His willingness to forgive, as evidence that He will not be so strict at the day of judgment. To those I say, it was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who was telling this story. He will not bail us out, not after He has given us the time and means wherewith to prepare ourselves. You have to do your part!
If we have the chance to do what He has commanded us, and we choose not to, how can you expect Him to reward you to the same degree as the diligent and obedient?
Perhaps you think back to the Prodigal Son, who squandered his inheritance, only to be received back into his father’s house. Yes, the prodigal’s brother was upset, and the father told the brother that he loved them both equally, but there is a difference here.
The prodigal had repented in time. He realized his folly and made it right. We have the promise of the Lord’s mercy on that count.
We don’t have the guarantee that He will spare us if we refuse to prepare in time. Quite the opposite is true, in fact.
Brothers and sisters, be like the five wise virgins! Fill your lamps! Acquire extra oil! Do so by studying the words of the prophets, heeding their counsel, reading the scriptures, making and keeping covenants in the temple, and defending the faith!
Do not cast away your spiritual preparedness with the assumption that you are helping those who demand it of you. Perhaps the five wise virgins loved the five foolish virgins. But they did not lose their spiritual reward for them.
It is an act of love to invite people to Christ.
It is an act of pride to defy God’s counsel, and assume He will give you what you want anyway.
The ‘five foolish virgins’ still have time to prepare, to fill their lamps by strengthening their testimonies and obeying the words of God.
But as God’s own prophet Russell M. Nelson said in April 2019, “Time is running out.”
“Preparation for the Second Coming” – Elder Dallin H. Oaks, April 2004
“If Ye Had Known Me” – Elder David A. Bednar, October 2016
“A Time of Urgency” – Elder Marvin J. Ashton, April 1974