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Church Message

The Oil that Really Is Essential
By Ronald Gallagher

Church message imageChurch sponsors jul17When my daughter approached me about my need to incorporate "essential oils” into my life, I was way ahead of her. Growing up on a small family farm, I was familiar with the vital place that various oils occupied in our lives. Without certain oils, life could not go on normally. Some were designed for internal use, and others were designed for various external uses. Some were medicinal, some had a nutritional quality, and some simply made things move smoother.

Castor oil led the medicinal list. Just the threat of having to swallow it would make you feel better. Camphor oil was for fever blisters and rubbing on mysterious rashes that we didn’t know what to do with, and cod liver oil helped keep the internal plumbing working.

Oil derived from melting down good ole’ lard was indispensable in the nutritional department. We fried all kinds of stuff in it and used it in its solid form to make biscuits and other dietary necessities. Outside the house, 30 weight motor oil was a mainstay. It kept the tractor running and was good for putting on almost anything that squeaked. Grandpa even poured some on our dog, Rex, when he got lice. Later in life, other essential oils were added to the list — like WD-40 and cooking oil in spray cans.

Forgive me for having a little fun with a familiar term. My friends who use "essential oil” products subtly suggest that if I would join them, I’d be a kinder, gentler, calmer, healthier, happier, and more tolerable person. They might be right, but I really just mentioned the term as a segue to consider another kind of "oil,” one that Jesus talked about, and one that is more deserving of the designation "essential” than any product for sale anywhere.

Matthew relates a story (Matthew 25:1-13) involving oil that takes place during a wedding, but it’s not about a particular kind of oil. It’s not a classic wedding story, either, so don’t look for an adaptation of it on the Hallmark Channel. Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom of God, and the story highlights our personal responsibility to be prepared.

The parable is about ten bridesmaids serving in an evening wedding. They would begin by gathering at the bride’s house where they would wait for the groom to arrive. Then the groom would led the bridal procession back to his house for the concluding ceremony and the ensuing celebration. The bridesmaids were responsible for the oil lamps that would illuminate the procession.

In Jesus’ story, five of the ten bridesmaids took extra oil in case the groom was late showing up. The other five tried to get by on the oil they had in their lamps. For some reason, the groom in Jesus’ story was really late. We’re only told that ...while the bridegroom was delayed, they [the bridesmaids] all slumbered and slept. Then midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ (Matthew 25:5- 6 NKJV). All the bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps, but those who didn’t take extra oil, ran out.

While the "foolish” bridesmaids went in search of more oil, the bridegroom came. When they got back, the procession was gone. It was all over. When they begged to be admitted to the postwedding celebration, it was too late. Having enough oil was "essential,” and they had missed the only chance they would ever have.

There is a great deal of symbolism and prophetic significance in this story that we cannot address in this limited space, but there are several obvious lessons.

When Jesus ascended back to heaven, the angels made it clear that He was going to return (Acts 1:9-11). If that doesn’t happen in our lifetime, at some point, we’re going to arrive at our exit ramp out of here. Either way, an inevitable is event is coming beyond which everything is going to change forever. We just don’t know when it’s going to happen.

God has graciously extended an invitation to come to His Son’s "wedding” that includes an entrance into His Kingdom, but admission is conditional, and meeting those conditions is "essential.” Interestingly, "oil” plays a part. Oil is a type of the Holy Spirit and our means of personal contact with God, and Paul makes its significance clear.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. Romans 8:9 (NKJV)

The foolish bridesmaids were left out forever because they didn’t have enough "essential oil.” Those who put off preparing for the inevitable will find themselves in the same tragic situation. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the only "essential oil” that will grant entrance into a wedding celebration that will last forever. Without it, nothing in the health store will suffice . . . Even WD-40 won’t help.

In addition to being an active writer, speaker, teacher, and blogger, Ron Gallagher serves in a variety of roles as a ministry consultant for local churches. His Biblical insights are coupled with down-to-earth humor, satire, and relevant stories aimed at promoting "Right Side Up Thinking ~ in an Upside Down World.” Ron strives to apply God’s truth in a way that stimulates the mind, encourages the heart, and challenges the cultural norm.  Check out his blog, "Gallagher’s Pen” at

NEW BOOK . . .Ron’s new book, Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth, is now available on Amazon and through Lighthouse Bible Studies. Learn more at


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