Have you considered seriously the Parable of the Ten Virgins and how it applies to you? Do you know how to increase the oil in your lamp? What do you learn about spiritual self-reliance from this parable?
“And then, at that day, before the Son of Man comes, shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
“And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
“They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
“But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
“Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
“And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
“But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
“Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
“But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (JST Matthew 25:1/Matthew 25:2-13).
This parable teaches the importance of being spiritually self-reliant. It is essential to our eternal well-being that we become spiritually self-reliant. When we are spiritually self-reliant, we are able to depend on our own testimony. We seek for opportunities for spiritual growth, and we do this by doing those activities that bring spiritual experiences, such as exercising faith in Jesus Christ by praying daily and studying the scriptures. We can learn to solve many of our own problems by turning to Heavenly Father and asking for His assistance. When we are spiritually self-reliant, we have the capability to strengthen others when they are in spiritual need. What can you do to increase the oil in your lamp?
Other scriptures mention the Ten Virgins and/or give counsel about becoming spiritually self-reliant. These scriptures confirm the principle that we are to use our agency to become spiritually strong.
“O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mormon 9:27; emphasis added).
“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:3-5; emphasis added).
“And the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction; and the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things.
“Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom –
“For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I come quickly” (Doctrine and Covenants 33:16-18; emphasis added).
“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
“And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19).
Besides the counsel given in the scriptures, latter day apostles and prophets have spoken about the importance of becoming self-reliant. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the Parable of the Ten Virgins and how to apply it to ourselves. “I now want to use one of many possible interpretations of the parable of the ten virgins to highlight the relationship between testimony and conversion. Ten virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish, took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Please think of the lamps used by the virgins as the lamps of testimony. The foolish virgins took their lamps of testimony but took no oil with them. Consider the oil to be the oil of conversion….
“Were the five wise virgins selfish and unwilling to share, or were they indicating correctly that the oil of conversion cannot be borrowed? Can the spiritual strength that results from consistent obedience to the commandments be given to another person? Can the knowledge obtained through diligent study and pondering of the scriptures be conveyed to one who is in need? Can the peace the gospel brings to a faithful Latter-day Saint be transferred to an individual experiencing adversity or great challenge? The clear answer to each of these questions is no.
“As the wise virgins emphasized properly, each of us must `buy for ourselves.’ These inspired women were not describing a business transaction; rather, they were emphasizing our individual responsibility to keep our lamp of testimony burning and to obtain an ample supply of the oil of conversion. This precious oil is acquired one drop at a time – `line upon line [and] precept upon precept’ (2 Nephi 28:30), patiently and persistently. No shortcut is available; no last-minute flurry of preparation is possible” ("Converted Unto the Lord," Ensign, Nov. 2012; emphasis added).
President Spencer W. Kimball believed “the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ and not the rank and file of the world. All of the virgins, wise and foolish, had accepted the invitation to the wedding supper; they had knowledge of the program and had been warned of the important day to come…. They were knowing people who were foolishly unprepared….
“They had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion….
“Rushing for their lamps to light their way through the blackness, half of them found them empty. They had cheated themselves. They were fools, these five unprepared virgins….
“Even the foolish ones trimmed their lamps, but their oil was used up and they had none to refill the lamps. They hastened to make up for lost time…. They had been taught. They had been warned….
“… In the daytime, wise and unwise seemed alike; midnight is the time of test and judgment – and offered gladness….
“The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. The wise had to go…. They needed all their oil for themselves; they could not save the foolish….
“This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. How can one share obedience to the principle of tithing; a mind at peace from righteous living; an accumulation of knowledge? How can one share attitudes or chastity, or the experience of a mission? How can one share temple privileges? Each must obtain that kind of oil for himself.
“The foolish virgins were not averse to buying oil. They knew they should have oil. They merely procrastinated, not knowing when the bridegroom would come….
“Midnight is so late for those who have procrastinated….
“For those who heed the warning and make their preparations, for those found at midnight with the oil of righteousness in their lamps, for those with patience, long-suffering, and full dedication, the promise is that they shall sit down at the banquet with their Lord” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 256; emphasis added).
I know that we must know the truth and become converted to the Lord. I know that we must hold to truth; we must be firm and steadfast. We must keep our lamps of testimony burning brightly and have ample oil of conversion and righteousness in reserve. We must become fully converted in order to strengthen our families, friends, and associates. I know that we must stop our procrastination for our time for preparation is growing short. I know that the Lord is hastening His work here upon the earth and that the time of His return to earth is near. I will continue putting oil in my lamp – drop by drop. What will you do?