Jesus, our Redeemer, has given a powerful parable to stress the importance of constant personal spiritual preparedness. It is the parable of the Ten Virgins, a warning to all mankind everywhere. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them: “But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 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. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 25: 1-13 in the Bible)
Who Do the Ten Virgins Represent?
It can be concluded that the ten virgins represent the people who have faith in Jesus Christ and have been taught His gospel and know the commandments they should live by and are not the rank and file of the world. The wise and foolish virgins, all of them, had been invited to the wedding supper; they had knowledge of the importance of the occasion. They were not pagans or heathens nor were they known as corrupt or lost, but rather they were informed people of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They knew the way but were foolishly unprepared for the coming of the bridegroom (the Savior). All, even the foolish ones, trimmed their lamps at his coming, but their oil was used up. In the most needed moment there was none available to refill their lamps.
The Parable Applies to Each of Us
Today thousands of us are in a similar position. Through lack of patience and confidence, preparation has ceased. Others have lulled themselves to complacency with the rationalization that midnight will never come. The responsibility for having oil in our personal lamps is an individual requirement and opportunity. The oil of spiritual preparedness cannot be shared. The wise were not unkind or selfish when they refused oil to the foolish in the moment of truth. The kind of oil needed by all of us to light up the darkness and illuminate the way is not shareable. The oil could have been purchased at the market in the parable, but in our life it is accumulated by righteous living, a drop at a time. How can one share the blessings that come through visiting the sick, assisting the widow or the fatherless? How can one share a personal testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ? How can one share the lesson of obedience to the commandments of God. Certainly each must accumulate this kind of oil for themselves. We should not procrastinate, midnight is so far and yet so close to those who have procrastinated. “But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure.” (Helaman: 13: 38 in the Book of Mormon)
How Do We Add Oil to Our Lamps
We add oil to our lamps, drop by drop through fasting, prayer, church attendance, control of bodily appetites, studying the scriptures, acts of kindness, chaste thoughts and actions, keeping marriage covenants, loving each other and obedience to all the commandments to the best of our ability.
There is an Urgency
We should be preparing for the coming of the Lord. We are now living in the last days before the Second Coming. We are living in a time of spiritual crisis. We are living in a time close to midnight. “Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord.” (Doctrine & Covenants 87: 8) If we have heeded the warning and continue in our preparations to accumulate the oil of righteousness in our lamps, great blessings are promised us.
Some of the Article came from Marvin J. Ashton remarks General Conference, April 1974.