Ten Virgins, All Individuals

Matthew 25:1-11

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,  but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.  As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’

These verses are referred to as The Parable of the Ten Virgins.  It tells us to be ever vigilant for the return of Christ.  No one, and I mean no one, knows when or where.  You must stay vigilant, disciplined and be prepared.

But I found another meaning in this story, another lesson to be learned.

As I began to write this post the fable of the grasshopper and the ant came to mind.  That fable was written by Aesop, who lived some 500 years before Christ.  If for some reason you have never heard of this fable or read it, here it is.  It’s short and right to the point.

The Ants and the Grasshopper

Aesop’s fable and the parable as told by Christ both speak of the individual and the self-reliance and self-responsibility of the individual.

The ant knew of its responsibility and the consequences of its actions, and so it acted accordingly.  The ant knew of the impending winter and the scarcity of food.  The ant disciplined itself to work and put away supplies for the lean times to come.

The grasshopper also knew of its responsibility and consequences.  The grasshopper lacked discipline and chose to ignore the inevitable consequences of its actions.  And so it paid the price.

It’s the same with the ten virgins.  They all knew the bridegroom was on his way, and they knew they had to be prepared or get shutout.  And they knew, as we all know, that things don’t always go as planned.  Five chose wisely and came prepared with a reserve of oil to keep their lamps lit.  Five were foolish and undisciplined and ignored the consequences of their actions.  Five were prepared and the consequences were good to them and five were unprepared and the consequences were unpleasant.

In both stories, the foolish, who chose to ignore the consequences out of laziness and undisciplined behavior, who acted like children, expected the diligent, disciplined and righteous to bail them out.  They expected someone else to pay the price for their foolishness.  Foolishness got them into the situation and they expect even more foolishness to get them out.

It is the same today.  We make bad choices, knowing full well the consequences of those bad choices.  We act out of desires of the flesh.  When the consequences of those bad decision fall upon us, we cry foul and claim the system is rigged against us.  And then we expect others to bail us out.

If they don’t, then they’re the bad guys.  They become the greedy, selfish, evil people.  The fool makes an attempt to ascend to the moral high ground of which there is none.  But where does the covetousness really lie, with those who earn or those who expect?

What Aesop’s fable and Christ’s parable is teaching us is that there are consequences, undeniable and unavoidable consequences to your actions.  No person, group, organization, or government can change that fact.

Every person is an individual and every individual is subject to the balance.  That is where all equality lies.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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