In Matthew 25:1-2, Jesus used a parable to introduce his sermon on the sheep and goats. This account is about the kingdom of heaven and the 10 virgins who took their lamps out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and the other five wise. The foolish ones took their lamp, but did not have oil in them. The wise took oil with them in jars, along with their lamps.
In the Hebrew version of the book of Matthew, the oil is translated as Tsidaqah. They took no “Tsidaqah” (Tzedakah), which we noted earlier on as the Hebrew word for generosity or charity. They took no generosity with them when they met the bridegroom. It seems they were not following the Law, because they were simply not operating by God’s grace, but human effort.
The word for righteous is “tsadaq”. They are almost the same words. Righteousness and generosity came from the same root. You cannot separate righteousness from generosity. You can be righteous, yet be stingy or greedy. Greed and wickedness are then also interconnected. Jesus said the love of money is the root of all evil, and so greed is the root of all evil. Generosity is the key to righteousness. Righteousness revealed is generosity.
The five foolish virgins did not bring generosity with them. When the bridegroom finally came, those without oil cannot get into the banquet. The others came and pleaded that the door would be open for them. The Master answered, “What I’m about to tell you is true. I don’t know you” (Mt. 25:12).
The issue of the five virgins who did not come with oil is that the Master did not know who they were. Since they did not bring generosity, they were not welcome to the celebration. In other words, those who failed to be generous here on earth — essentially those who did not obey God — would not be welcome in the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 25, when Jesus talks about how he’s going to judge the world, the key to how he judges the world is generosity. Knowing God resulted in tsidaqah — knowing God resulted in generosity.
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