We have all seen open doors close. Opportunity ended. The tale of “Too little and too late.” The saying of the German, “Too soon oldt and too late smardt.”
Matthew 25 records the parable of 10 bridesmaids awaiting the imminent return of the Bridegroom. Five were wise and well prepared for his arrival. Even if it should be unexpectedly delayed they could hold out. The other five were not so wise, and not so well prepared.
We all know how the story ended, but let’s go to Matthew 25 for the details.
Matthew 25:1–4 1“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Why does Jesus begin with “The Kingdom of heaven shall be likened…”? Because this is what Jesus is asking of those who are admitted to His kingdom. They must be wise—superwise. Prepared, so an unexpected delay won’t make them fail.
What are the lamps? Lamps that will light the path. Remember, this is a night-time venture. They travel in the night, and must keep their lamps burning to see the way!
Matthew 25:2–4 2Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
All the bridesmaids look alike. What is the difference between the wise and the foolish?
3Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
The whole difference is in the quantity of oil they take with them.
Isn’t this a great point on the supply of faith we need? They all had faith, or they wouldn’t be among the bridesmaids. But the “wise” too a reserve supply. What if the bridegroom is delayed?
So with our faith supply. What if the time is longer than anticipated? Won’t we be thankful we took that extra supply? Because at the end of the day, the amount of oil we have will be the deciding factor on how long we were able to hold out—AND whether the bridegroom will let us in for the wedding.
But we’re getting ahead of the story.
Matthew 25:5 5…while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
Sleep overcame them. Lights out. All sleeping. Jesus indicates a time of complete apostasy. If he returned at such a time, no one would be ready to welcome Him.
Then—the midnight cry.
Matthew 25:6–7 6“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
Word spread fast: Time to wake up! The bridegroom is coming! Get ready! Pour in the oil. Light your lamps!
Matthew 25:8 8And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
All lamps burning. But time elapses. Some lamps are going out.
Oil crisis. Foolish bridesmaids begging: Please, please, share your oil!
But faith cannot be shared. Each must have her own supply.
Matthew 25:9 9But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’
Buy for yourselves. Your faith must be YOUR own.
Matthew 25:10 10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
End of opportunity. Open door CLOSED.
Matthew 25:10 …those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
The summary lesson from Jesus:
13“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
The same calamity overtook the people of Noah’s time. After all those years of preaching and building, the day arrived when the ark was finished. It was time to enter.
Genesis 7:16 16So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.
End of opportunity. Open door CLOSED.
Jesus told a parable of another closed door. It was the man who carefully wrapped his God-given talent in a napkin and put it in a safe place. Usrely this was not a serious crime? The man was not openly defiant, or rebellious, or dishonest. His sin was only this: that he did nothing with his opportunity. The door was open, and he did not enter.
But when the lord of that servant returned, what did he say as the servant proudly unwrapped the unused talent and handed it back to him?
End of opportunity. Open door CLOSED.
Luke 19:24 24[The lord of that servant] said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
It is when assessing right and wrong to think that something we did wrong is more serious than something we simply did not do. In other words, don’t worry about sins of “omission”? James tells us otherwise.
James 4:17 17Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Not to do the right thing is just as serious, just as culpable, as openly doing wrong.
We might call it the sin of neglect. It is the warning from the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 2:1–3 1Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.
Notice that statement:
A movement we scarcely notice… drifting.
2For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,
3how shall we escape if we neglect…
If we NEGLECT… something we know we NEED to do but just don’t give it the effort and diligence it needs. Too relaxed. Too unmotivated to make the change. Too “at ease” to give it the extra umph to make it happen!
From the other side comes the opposite lesson—the one who IMMEDIATELY acted on an opportunity. The sooner, the quicker, the better! It’s the story of the pearl merchant. What did he do when he discovered that one priceless pearl?
Matthew 13:45–46 45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Time for action… NOW! No neglect. No delay.
46…when he had found one pearl of great price, [he] went and sold all that he had and bought it.
How about the man who discovered treasure in the field?
Matthew 13:44 44“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
His first action was to dig a hole and HIDE the treasure. See him carefully covering it over, so it would not be discovered.
Then he had to find out WHO owned the field. Would he sell it? For what price?
The man must have thought the owner put the price up pretty high.
But the man wanted it. Even if it cost him everything he had.
Was it worth it? Absolutely! He WOULD BUY that field!
He did it. IMMEDIATELY.
Scripture calls us again and again to act on our decision. Immediately.
God promises no sure NEXT, only a sure NOW.
2 Corinthians 6:1–2 1We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
The only sure moment is NOW, now while the door is still open.
Now, before the open door is closed.
Because doors DO close. Opportunity DOES end. We have seen it happen to others, and it can happen to us. A sudden accident, a sudden illness, and the open door is closed.
By the mercy of God the door is still open. Jesus’ invitation is for NOW. He says,
Revelation 3:20 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
He will not be knocking forever.
It is the message of the motto on my desk.
“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Unused opportunities go by. The unwound clock stops. Open doors close.
If we want to live in that wonderful, NEW world to come, we must decide and act on it NOW.