An Extra Vessel of Oil

January: We are Responsible for our own learning

Right at the beginning of Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of the ten virgins where five were wise and five were foolish. But what made them foolish? It wasn’t their bad sense of humor or their terrible fashion sense. It also wasn’t bad behavior because the fact they were called virgins means they were keeping the laws of God. The Lord explains the difference. He said, “The foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” (Matt. 25:2)

So, in addition to the oil in their lamps, they brought extra oil in another vessel that wasn’t the lamp. I imagine that the lamps were probably identical and even provided by the happy couple being married, but the extra vessel was something each virgin took from their own home. Some may have been beautiful Phoenician crystal while others were earthen and unpainted. Another could have been bright colors and a little wild. What the vessel looked like did not matter as much as that oil was placed in it, and it was brought along.

You know the rest of the story. The bridegroom was delayed and by the time he came, the oil in their lamps had run out. The wise virgins could not share their oil and the foolish virgins were left scrambling and missed the party.

David Bednar taught: “We should not expect the Church as an organization to teach or tell us everything we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end. Rather, our personal responsibility is to learn what we should learn, to live as we know we should live, and to become who the Master would have us become. And our homes are the ultimate setting for learning, living, and becoming” (“Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2019, 102).

To me, the lamp is like the Church organization. It involves making baptismal and temple covenants, church attendance, tithing and organized church instruction. It looks the same for all who attend just like the identical oil lamps, and they do bring light in your life.

On the other hand, the extra vessel of oil is something we acquire on our own, in our own homes while living our individual lives. This is the oil we acquire doing daily scripture reading, regular prayers, home instruction and gospel-centered discussions. We get it from having and sharing spiritual experiences.

If we revisit that list that President Nelson challenged us with in his last talk,

How many of these happen at church?

Give away our “favorite” sins. 

Seek for and follow the promptings of the Spirit  

Do something good for another person. 

Repent daily.  

Keep sacred covenants. 

Live the doctrine of Christ. 

Feed yourself truth; don’t pollute yourself with false philosophies. 

Make strengthening your testimony of Jesus Christ your highest priority. 

Watch for those miracles to happen in your life. 

Let Him know through your prayers and your actions that you are serious about overcoming the world. 

Ask Him to enlighten your mind and send the help you need. 

*Each day, record the thoughts that come in you as you pray; then follow through diligently.  

Spend more time in the temple and seek to understand how the temple teaches you to rise above this fallen world. 

I think both “feed yourself truth” and “make strengthening your testimony of Jesus Christ your highest priority” happen, when you feast on the scriptures daily.

The idea of strengthening our testimony of Christ being my HIGHEST priority is hard with my noisy busy life. I have lots of wonderful grandchildren that live close by and love to play at my house often, two college students that are still home and a husband that works at home for two weeks and then travels for two weeks. Sometimes my intention is to read but when my sweet grandchildren burst through the door, I just want to play with them.

A help that I just discovered is the notification section of the gospel library. It sends a text reminding me to read my scriptures and pray each morning, which I am so thankful for and has already been helpful.

The symbol we decided on for “Women Read Scripture” was the lamp because we hoped that this program would be another help in filling our lamps with that extra oil that we will need to be prepared for the challenges of our crazy day where “even the elect will be deceived.”

I’m hoping that as we study together, we can all share our insights. And I look forward to your comments and suggestions as we learn together.

For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. D&C 45:57

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