There was going to be a wedding in Jerusalem. As evening fell, the guests gathered at the bride’s house.
In that country, the custom was for the bridegroom to come to the bride’s house to meet her. Then, with torches and lamps burning, the bridal party would go to the bridegroom’s house. There the wedding celebration would take place.
In the waiting bridal party were ten bridesmaids. Each carried a little clay lamp filled with oil. A wick burned in a spout at one end of the lamp.
It was a happy scene, with lights flickering and happy laughter floating on the night air, as the guests waited for the bridegroom to appear.
But the bridegroom was delayed. Hours passed. As the guests grew tired, the laughter and talk died down. One by one, the guests drifted off to sleep, including the ten bridesmaids. The lamps continued to burn; the flames sank lower and lower as the wicks burned down.
At last, at midnight someone cried out, “The bridegroom is coming! Go out to meet him!”
The bridesmaids began to trim their wicks so the lights would burn brightly again. Five of the bridesmaids had wisely brought extra oil, and they poured it into their lamps. The other five had brought no extra oil. They looked at the dying light of their lamps.
“Give us some of your oil,” they begged the wise bridesmaids. But the five wise women had already emptied their flasks into their lamps.
“We can’t give you any oil,” they said, as they hurried off to meet the bridegroom. “You will have to go buy some.”
The five foolish bridesmaids ran into the town, searching for a merchant who would sell them lamp oil at that hour of the night. By the time they found oil and lit their lamps again, the wedding party had reached the bridegroom’s house. Everyone was inside and the door was shut tight.
When the five foolish bridesmaids reached the house, they saw the lights and heard the music and laughter. Eager to join the other guests, they pounded on the door.
“Lord, Lord, open to us,” they called.
The master of the supper heard the noise and looked out.” All the wedding party are inside,” he said. “I don’t know you at all.” And he closed the door on them.
Jesus told His disciples about this wedding to show them the two kinds of people who will serve Him and wait for Him to come again. All will have a knowledge of the Bible, but only some will have the Spirit of God in their hearts. While the bridesmaids waited, no one could tell which ones had extra oil and which ones did not. All of them got tired and fell asleep for awhile. But when they were called to serve, the difference could be seen.
In the same way, we cannot tell by looking at people which ones have the Spirit of God in their hearts and which ones have not. Some, like the foolish bridesmaids, will not be ready when trouble or temptation comes. They will have no extra oil, and their lights will go out. Others, like the wise bridesmaids, will have extra oil. When trouble comes, their faith will make them ready to serve God.
In the story each bridesmaid had to prepare her own lamp; the wise ones could not share their oil. It is the same with character. No one else can give us good characters. Each of us has to build his or her own character. Each one of us must store up the words of Jesus in the heart. Each of us must learn to be kind and patient, and to obey when Jesus calls.
Let us be like the wise bridesmaids. Let us invite Jesus into our hearts and ask for the Spirit of God to guide us and to give us faith. Then we will always be ready. We will be shining lights for God.
Let’s find some of the things the Bible says about shining lights. Read Matthew 5:14, Psalm 27:1 and Proverbs 4:18.
Our Treasure Chest Verse tells us to be shining lights for God:
“Let you light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16