Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry


By Jeannette Haley

Sometimes when your brain becomes weary and you feel like you’re on
“overload” this question “Does it really matter?” can sneak its way into your mind.
Does it really matter if I get up early so much can be accomplished, or does it
really matter if I go to work today, or does it really matter if I eat healthy meals, or
does it really matter if I cut corners instead of aiming for excellence? Does it
really matter if the usual standard of cleanliness and efficiency is ignored? Does
it really matter if I read my Bible and pray? These are just a few examples of how
this question can quickly morph into a major temptation that dips and sways
towards laziness. Besides, instead of asking the LORD or praying about if
“whatever” really matters, we ask the wrong person; that is, ourselves. What we
really have are excuses for our state of being.

Laziness can be a strong, yet subtle, temptation for any of us depending on
the circumstances, obstacles, or challenges that we’re up against. Nevertheless,
one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control, which means mental self-
discipline regardless of how we “feel” either emotionally or physically. Jesus
didn’t “feel” like going to the cross, but He never failed to do the will of His Father
in heaven even though He could have called ten-thousand angels to rescue Him.
Jesus overcame the world, the flesh, and the devil because He knew that it did
matter, and it mattered for all eternity. “These things I have spoken unto you, that
in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good
cheer; I have overcome the world” John 6:33. Just think what a mess we would
all be in if Jesus had given in to Satan’s temptations in the wilderness if His
attitude was, “Does it really matter?”

Even so, the sad fact is that the great lack of diligent watchfulness in
westernized Christianity has resulted in a disenchanted, disconnected, distracted
and disinterested “does it really matter” type of unwise Christian that brings to
mind the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. Since we know that the “fear of
the Lord is wisdom,” and “to depart from evil is understanding,” it’s clear that the
five foolish virgins lacked both wisdom and understanding. It seems reasonable
to conclude that they thought it didn’t really matter if they were prepared, or if
they had enough oil in their lamps to allow them to “endure to the end” should the
Bridegroom tarry. The fact that they failed to secure enough oil to keep their
lamps lit in expectation of the Bridegroom’s coming reveals a half-hearted
commitment to the Lord. Half-hearted commitment results in a “half-way” life of
“half-way” accomplishments. One could say that half-heartedness is akin to a
lukewarm, Laodicean Christian.

Jesus had many “half-hearted,” “half-way” followers. They were excited about
this Man from Galilee who performed miracles and fed the multitudes. The good
seed of His teaching and preaching tickled their ears, and some even went deep
enough to take root, at least for a season. So it was with the five foolish virgins
who appeared to be part of the assembly because, after all, they were also
virgins, they had their lamps (basic knowledge), they had some oil (a measure of
the Spirit), and they even had some light (basic doctrine of the Word) but what
they lacked was the kind of FAITH that would cause them to believe and receive
Jesus as not only Savior, but LORD; faith to fully receive the Baptism of the Holy
Spirit; and faith to endure through the long, dark night of the soul while waiting for

the Bridegroom. It’s not enough to simply go along with the crowd because the
day is coming when there will be a great separation, and then the door will be

This is a sobering parable that warns us that what we believe, how we
receive, and how we respond does “matter!” The LORD is warning that there will
be a good number of professing believers in the end days prior to His return who
assume that they’re prepared, but who truly do not know Him. They may follow
along and be in the company of those who know Him, and they may have
enough oil and light in their “lamps” to give the impression that they’re “okay,” but
in reality, it doesn’t truly matter to them. After all, they mingle with the wise, they
look, talk, and act the part, and they presume they’re going to be ushered into the
wedding just as they are even though they’ve never paid the price to truly
become a broken, repentant, born-again, overcoming, self-denying disciple of
Jesus Christ. And, in the end, when they say, “Lord, Lord, open to us” (Matthew
25:11), He will say, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (verse 12b). I don’t
know about you, but I find such chilling words beyond sobering.

This brings to mind what Jesus warned in Matthew 7:21, “Not every one that
saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that
doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Underscore mine.] If you
consider yourself to be a Christian because you go to church and have a “form of
godliness,” does it really matter what the will of God is? Of course, it matters!
Ephesians 5:17, says, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the
will of the Lord is.” Consider how Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done”
and then ask yourself how often, when in prayer the subtle motivation of your
heart was, “Not Thy will be done, but mine”? Jesus asked in Luke 6:46, “And why
call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

It is no secret that it’s very possible to go through the motions of being a
Christian, and keep company with Christians, yet not be a “sold-out,” committed
believer. But, without the Living Water of the Holy Spirit, and the life of Christ
within you, it is easy to become, as I stated above, disenchanted, disconnected,
distracted and disinterested. In such a state it’s easy to ignore the ramifications
and consequences of making the decision at any given time that “it doesn’t really
matter.” Romans 8:5-8 give us this insight, “For they that are after the flesh do
mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the
Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and
peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the
law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot
please God.” Therefore, it appears that the unwise virgins represent the carnal-
minded, or the flesh, whereas the five wise virgins represent those to whom Paul
wrote in verse 9, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the
Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is
none of his.”

Does it really matter two-thousand years after Jesus physically walked on
this earth what He said to His disciples in Luke 9:23-26, “If any man will come
after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For
whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my
sake the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged if he gain the whole
world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of
me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall

come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the Holy angels.” Does it really
matter that in order to possess enough oil to keep your lamp burning until you
stand before the LORD of glory you must pay the price of self-denial to your right
to your self-life?

The wise virgins had paid the price for the precious oil that they possessed.
They knew that every Spirit-breathed Word truly mattered, and by faith they were
prepared to do what it took to “endure to the end.” Concerning the imminent
coming of the Bridegroom, the wise had overcome the temptation to ask
themselves if it really mattered, thus avoiding the way to not only spiritual
laziness, but eternal destruction.

Concerning being spiritually lazy, Oswald Chambers wrote, “We are all
capable of being spiritually lazy saints. We want to stay off the rough roads of life,
and our primary objective is to secure a peaceful retreat from the world. The
ideas put forth in these verses from Hebrews 10:24, 25, are those of stirring up
one another and of keeping ourselves together. Both of these require initiative—
our willingness to take the first step toward Christ-realization, not the initiative
toward self-realization. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is
diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.

“The true test of our spirituality occurs when we come up against injustice,
degradation, ingratitude, and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us
spiritually lazy. While being tested, we want to use prayer and Bible reading for
the purpose of finding a quiet retreat. We use God only for the sake of getting
peace and joy. We seek only our enjoyment of Jesus Christ, not a true realization
of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things we are
seeking are simply effects, and yet we try to make them causes.

“‘Yes, I think it is right,’” Peter said, ‘…to stir you up by reminding you…’ (2
Peter 1:13). It is a most disturbing thing to be hit squarely in the stomach by
someone being used of God to stir us up— someone who is full of spiritual
activity. Simple active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active
work can actually be the counterfeit of spiritual activity. The real danger in
spiritual laziness is that we do not want to be stirred up— all we want to hear
about is a spiritual retirement from the world. Yet Jesus Christ never encourages
the idea of retirement— He says, ‘Go and tell My brethren…’ (Matthew 28:10).
Do you have enough oil and light to endure to the end, or does it really

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The Goal of Gentle Shepherd Ministries is to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to make disciples in compliance with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).

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