I recently read an article that asked the question, “Can the world live without oil?” The focus was on natural oil as an energy source that everyone relies on daily. It got me thinking about another kind of oil. The oil that we need to live and thrive in this world.
Matthew 25 tells us the story of the ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. The story tells us that five of the virgins were foolish and five were wise. The foolish virgins didn’t take any extra oil to refill their lamps during the night but the wise took flasks of oil with them. The bridegroom was delayed and when the call to come and meet him eventually came at midnight, all the virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish realized that they didn’t have enough oil so they said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out,” but the wise, knowing they didn’t have enough for themselves and the other five, told the foolish to go to the dealers and buy their own oil (Matthew 25:1-10 paraphrased).
What an interesting story! As I was thinking about it, I was drawn to what the five wise virgins told the five foolish – “Go get your own oil.” This may not sit well with some of us as it may seem a bit harsh or uncaring to tell someone to get their own oil, but it’s not.
I have a high value for what other people bring into my life. I’m encouraged when I listen to a sermon, when I enter into corporate worship, or when I spend time with people who are full of hope and passion for the Lord. I’m so glad to be able to partake of the oil of other people, but the truth is, whether it’s our joy, our inner victory, or our situation in life, we need our own oil and our own connection with God. When we know how to get and keep our own oil, we can empower those around us to stand on their own, and have a connection with God that will sustain them through the different seasons of life.
What is this oil?
The oil can certainly represent Holy Spirit, but today we’re focusing on something different.
When we are connected to God, we have access to oil that will keep us through whatever circumstances we may face. It may be the oil of joy, the oil of victory, the oil of hope, the oil of love, the oil of courage, the oil of endurance, or something else.
How can you get your own oil?
There have been seasons in my life where I felt like, “Man, it’s dry”. During those seasons, I found that other people’s oil wasn’t meeting my needs, or the people I’d relied on to keep me on fire weren’t around anymore. I found myself thinking, “What’s going on Lord?” Though I didn’t hear the Lord answer exactly in these words, what He basically said was, “Steve, I want you to get your own oil. I want you to learn how to start your own fire. That is what leaders do.”
This sent me on a journey of discovering how to get my own oil and how to establish and maintain my own connection with God. Here are some of the things I learned:
I get my own oil by learning to encourage myself – In 1 Samuel 30 there was an incident between David and his mighty men where they wanted to kill him. David certainly was tempted to be discouraged, but he did not give up. Verse 6 of that chapter tells us that “David encouraged himself in the Lord,” and then he went on to lead his men to victory! David inspired himself! We will all have times and seasons where the people around us and the environment that we are a part of aren’t creating the level of oil that we want. These are great opportunities to encourage ourselves and lean onto our personal connection with God.
I get my own oil by taking responsibility for how much joy I have – I came to realize that nobody is responsible for my level of joy – not my wife, not my kids, not my spiritual leaders, and not my friends. It is ultimately up to me whether I will walk in joy. As we shift our mindsets from expecting others to bring joy into our lives to realizing that our joy is not dependent on what other people are doing or not doing, we will have a major boost in getting our own oil. This doesn’t mean that we don’t communicate with the people we’re in relationship with if there’s any form of dysfunction, abuse, or unmet need, but it just means that, ultimately, we are responsible for our own joy.
I get my own oil by believing truth – “Now may the God of hope fill you . . . in believing” (Romans 15:13). Increasing hope is the evidence I am renewing my mind with truth, not lies. “The truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Every area of my life I believe truth in will become free (first in my emotions and then in my experience), but every area I believe lies will create restriction and limitation. The amount of my spiritual oil will eventually depend on what I believe. Yes, it’s a good thing to have anointed people pray over us, but it is important to understand that the amount of oil I ultimately have is not dependent on what they believe, but what I believe.
In conclusion, here are some practical things to do to get and keep your own oil level high:
Spend time with the Lord in prayer and worship
Spend time in the Word
Spend time with people who are full of faith, joy, and hope
Listen to testimonies of God’s goodness
Take time to remember your history with God
Meditate on the promises of God
Make faith declarations
Soak in God’s presence
For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.