“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27).
Phronimos—the Greek word used by Jesus and translated into English in this passage as “wise”—denotes someone who thoughtfully and sensibly determines a desired result and then acts accordingly to achieve it. Because of this, a spiritually wise person has three essential characteristics.
First, a wise person is reality based in his thinking. Spiritual fools wishfully fancy themselves to be utterly autonomous. Such is not true. Every human is a spiritual slave—either of righteousness or of unrighteousness (Romans 6:13). In addition, “to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness” (Romans 6:16).
Your free moral agency does not determine whether you are a slave. It only determines whether you are a slave of sin (i.e. foolish) or a slave of Jesus (i.e. wise).
Second, a wise person exercises foresight. In Jesus’ parable of the virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the five wise ones exercised forethought and took extra oil for their lamps; the five foolish ones simply lived in the moment.
For every citizen of humanity, it is appointed once to die and then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). All people—the great and the small—“must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10); “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10). There will be no no-shows. The wise, therefore, exercise foresight and faith.
Third, a wise person prudently uses his resources and opportunities as advantageously as possible. The unjust steward of Luke 16 was not praised for being a crook; he was praised because of his shrewdness (v. 8) in using the perishable things of life to his advantage (v. 9). Jesus’ point was “make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.”
Your time, talents, strength, opportunities, and blessings can be used to lay up for yourself treasures on earth or in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). A wise man invests earthly prosperity in heavenly treasures by hearing Jesus’ words and doing them.
Are you wise or foolish?