July 31 I Friday
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” —MATTHEW 25:11-13
In the parables of the ten virgins, the bags of gold and the separation of the sheep from the goats, Jesus is illustrating the readiness He requires of us upon His return. These stories each feature an absent key figure. In the first, it is the bridegroom who is yet to arrive; the second, a master who has gone away on a long journey; and the third, the king himself is yet to return to separate the sheep from the goats.
Once the key figure has returned, there is a division between those who are right and those who are wrong. For those who are wrong, it is too late to make amends. Excuses are unacceptable and there will be no middle ground, no negotiation. These parables present a clear warning for the unprepared, the unfaithful and the self-absorbed. The Day of Judgment before the King of all the earth is coming and will expose us for what we really are. The wicked will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
These are very sobering parables Jesus told His disciples that reveal what it will be like at the end of the age. They are not a series of isolated stories, but progressively develop to teach events surrounding the second coming of the Lord Jesus. He is the bridegroom for whom we are to be prepared; He is the master to whom we must give an account; and He is the king to whose judgment we must submit. In each case, there is a division between the wise and the foolish, the workers and the lazy and the kind and compassionate from the self-absorbed.
It is drawing upon the resources we have in Jesus Christ not only in troubling times, but in our everyday lives that prepares us to be in readiness for the return of Christ. The inevitable outcome will be Christ-centered living. This is not an overnight transformation, but the work of the Holy Spirit bringing us into conformity with God’s will, His character and His purpose for us. But it is up to us to bring Christ in and give Him the freedom to work in our lives.
The Christian life is not about doing the best we can, for it is not our good works or keeping all the rules that will reserve our place in heaven. The Christian life is about a deeply personal relationship with Jesus Christ in which our love for Him is expressed in our love for others. The end result will be evidenced in our readiness for His return, our faithfulness to Him and His love spread abroad in our hearts for a hurting, broken world.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the Holy Spirit who makes my relationship with You possible and conforms me to Your will and purpose. In every way, Lord, keep me in readiness for Your return. Amen!
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