Summary: Our primary duty as Christians is to persevere diligently in the faith, despite mixed motivations, temptations to procrastinate, to fail to prioritize, or to wisely interpret daily invents in terms of the permanent rather than the temporary.
Wise and Foolish Virgins/Christians
In Wisdom 6: 12-16 it tells us that wisdom is of such great importance,it ultimately determines our destiny.And we know that the beginning of wisdom is fear of, or obedience to and respect for the Lord God. We know also that Jesus is the Word and Wisdom of God. Wisdom as the term is used here is learning by observation the moral consequences of human behavior so as to serve God and neighbor diligently with love.
In the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, the difference between self-described Christians who accept Jesus intellectually but who fail to live a wise Christian life is made clear. Foolish people who regard themselves as Christians keep their oil lamp of faith lit for a limited time, but have neither the patience nor diligence to complete their moral responsibilities of doing good and avoiding or repenting for sin over an entire lifetime. They run out of oil; nowadays we might say they run out of gas. They are like the foolish builder earlier in the chapter who built his house on sand rather than the wise builder who constructed his house on rock. The rock is Jesus, the Wisdom of God. The wise builder not only hears Jesus’ words, but also follows them. He is rewarded with a durable house, one that can withstand the storms in life and serve as an eternal dwell place in heaven. He chooses wisely his foundation. The work of one who builds on sand is done in vain after a severe storm destroys his house. He fails to weather the spiritual crises in his earthly life (7:24-26).
The oil in the parable has been seen as faith, (Luther) or good works (various interpreters.) Both of these would be involved in the virtue of wisdom. Wisdom would also include being prepared for any foreseeable eventuality. The foolish virgins lacked that preparedness. They could not get it in time for the heavenly banquet. They are like those others who said to Jesus,” Lord, Lord,” but were denied the heavenly kingdom.
Loss of zeal and diligence leads to unpreparedness at the end of life on earth.The oil already in the foolish virgins’ lamps is not enough for the wedding banquet of God’s kingdom. Christ the bridegroom is delayed. His coming for the final judgment is taking longer than expected. Some expected the coming during their own lifetime, and when that didn’t happen, their commitment to doing the will of God as manifest in Jesus begins to wane, like the light of their lamps.
The lamp oil that keeps the light shining might be seen as including Christian charity, although we must avoid evil as well as do good in our commitment to doing God’s will. In charity,we must live according to the Beatitudes and be like the sheep rather than the goats, the ones who cooperate with Jesus in serving his people rather than ignoring those in need. Those whom Jesus classified as goats did not realize that what they did for the least of God’s people, they did for Jesus Himself (Matthew 25:31-46). The goat-people didn’t even understand why they didn’t make it to heaven