Foundations lesson for Feb. 6: Do-It-Yourself Faith : Friday, Jan. 14, 2005
January 14 2005 by Jeffrey Wisdom

Foundations lesson for Feb. 6: Do-It-Yourself Faith : Friday, Jan. 14, 2005
Friday, Jan. 14, 2005

Foundations lesson for Feb. 6: Do-It-Yourself Faith

By Jeffrey Wisdom
Focal Passage: Matthew 25:1-13


When my daughter was younger I thought it would be a good idea to build her a swing set. I closed off the garage, spread out the hardware, unfolded the instructions, and got ready to build. After building the swing set, I stood it up right to move it outside. When I raised the garage door, I saw a problem. The swing was too tall to clear the door. I had to take the set completely apart and move it outside.

Outdoors, I looked at the instructions and again put the swing set together. When I finished, I could not attach the hardware for the seats, rocking horse or slide - I had built the swing set upside down. I had to take it apart for a third time and reassemble it. The third time I read the instructions.

An Instruction Pamphlet of Sorts: The Predictions of the King (Ryrie) showed that chapters 24 and 25 in Matthew offer a series of discourses and parables that cover historical and prophetic events leading to the anticipation of Christ's return. The signs of the times and chapter 24 in Matthew describe the environment and atmosphere - the eschatological expectation in which the Christian community must wait.

Stephen Harris writes in The New Testament: A Student's Introduction: "Whatever their original meaning to Jesus, in Matthew they serve to illustrate (the) believer's obligation to await faithfully and patiently their absent Lord's return. The first parable contrasts two servants - a clear warning to church members to treat others honorably. The parable about a delayed bridegroom similarly contrasts two kinds of believers: those who are alert and prepared for the wedding event and those who are not. Because the 'bridegroom' is 'late in coming,' Matthew implies that Christians must reconcile themselves to a delay."


John Ortberg wrote that waiting is not irresponsibility. It is an act of obedience. Waiting is something God commands each of us to do, and do with patience, confident humility and inextinguishable hope.

In Matthew's tale of the 10 virgins, five maidens do not wait patiently, confidently or hopefully. Instead, they waited with irresponsibly and selfishly, and perhaps hopelessness. The word that describes these five maidens is "moros," meaning sluggish, dull, foolish or silly.

To be called "foolish" is to have a commentary offered on one's character. In Matthew's gospel, the implication is that the five foolish maidens had not taken the proper precautions that would allow them to be prepared while waiting on Christ's return, because they were too lazy to make the effort (25:7-8).

Unprepared, they had not used time to their advantage. They did not "redeem the time" (Col. 4:5) to its fullest potential. Instead, they thought they could rely on others to prepare for them. In this case, and other cases throughout Matthew's gospel, spiritual preparation is an individual matter. It is not a group activity. Although the five maidens are plural, they are read as a single group, making it possible to read the text as someone who is prepared and someone who is not.

What the five maidens appear to have lost was a sense purpose in their waiting. As such they lost personal responsibility, patience, humility and hope. "For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:3).

Without reading the instructions to my daughter's swing set, I found myself completely lost and unprepared to do the job correctly. Likewise, the Parable of the Virgins, offers a glimpse into what happens when you want to live your life your way, instead of waiting for God to properly prepare you for what comes next.

1/14/2005 12:00:00 AM by Jeffrey Wisdom | with 0 comments

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