I’ve been taking an in-depth look at the parable of the Ten Virgins of Matthew, chapter 21. In my last post we concluded that the combination of faith and love was needed to produce righteousness in our lives. Could this be what we are looking for to explain the mystery of the oil and the lamps producing light?
Today I want to look closely at these concepts, to see if they’re what Jesus is talking about. The first question we must ask ourselves is, are they both non-optional in the forming of the light of our righteousness?
First we’ll look at faith. We know, from Hebrews 11:6, that without faith it is impossible to please God. The verse doesn’t say that it’s difficult to serve God without faith. It says that no matter what you do, how much love is in your heart, or how often you go to church, it’s impossible for your works to count for anything in the kingdom of God apart from faith. Working for God absolutely requires faith.
The second commodity necessary for the light to appear is love. Without love our faith will be of no value. The clear teaching of Scripture in I Corinthians 13:2 says if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
I can have faith in God for incredible miracles and yet still not be able to please Him, if I don’t walk in love. Again, the Scripture makes it clear that love is a non-optional requirement to serve the Lord.
Knowing this, I’m now in a position to understand how faith and love work together in my life. They’re not independent. I can’t use one without the other and expect my works to be pleasing in the sight of God.
So, we can see that these two spiritual concepts pass the first test. What about the next test? How do faith and love relate to each other? Remember, the oil must work through the wick of the lamp in order to produce light.
It takes a lamp for the oil to express its true nature. Light is revealed when the oil expresses itself through the lamp. Does this parallel the scriptural description of faith and love?
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
It’s clear from this verse that all the outward trappings that man looks at are not worth a thing in God’s estimation. If we’re to please God, then our works must be a matter of faith expressing itself through love. Just like the light of a lamp is the oil working itself through the lamp, the light of our righteous works by faith working through love.
I believe that in this parable, the lamp is our love and the oil is our faith. Both are needed to produce the kind of light that will draw men and women to Christ for salvation. Love must be the medium through which the true character of my faith is revealed. It’s only as I have my lamp burning, my faith expressing itself through my love, that my works are acceptable before God.
Question: How does your faith express itself through your love in a practical way?
© Nick Zaccardi 2014