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Being Accountable for Next Steps

In Jesus’s parables, both the virgins and the servants knew what they were supposed to do.  The man with one talent says to his master, “‘I knew you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.’”  Similarly, the five virgins who did not have any oil with them still brought their lamps – they knew they would need light.  But later, they asked the other five to give them oil, showing they had not planned to be fully responsible for themselves. In both cases, those who knew what they needed to do but did not do it were simply given the consequences of their actions – the virgins were left out in the dark, and the servant who had been given one talent had it taken from him.

These stories are a good testament to the importance of next steps. Both situations could have been salvaged by a single next step. If the five virgins had made the small effort to get some oil before it was too late, they, too, could have joined in the banquet. If the servant with one talent had at least put it on deposit with the bankers, he would have had something to show his master.

It can become easy to not take our next step seriously, because whatever it is might seem insignificant. But these parables show us that God takes our next steps seriously – He holds us accountable according to whether or not we take them. Perhaps the virgins didn’t think they’d really be left outside of the banquet. Maybe they were used to others providing for them. Maybe they thought, “If the bridegroom is all-loving, he can’t leave me out of his banquet.” They made the foolish choice. As Christians, when we identify a next step in our lives, we’re not called to consider it. We’re called to take it.

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