Wisdom may be defined as the confident and hopeful use of true knowledge in planning practical things for securing good results. In our Scripture text, St. Peter gives us the three elements of wisdom – faith, fortitude [hope] and knowledge. True knowledge is the basis of wisdom, whereas sinful and erroneous knowledge is the basis of its opposite – folly. The Scriptures frequently speak of wisdom and true knowledge connectedly, and often synonymously. Following are a few examples: (Job 28: 12-28) (Proverbs 1: 5-7) (Proverbs 2: 1-10) (Proverbs 3: 13-23) (Proverbs 4: 4-13) (Proverbs 7: 2-4) (Proverbs 8: 1-11) (Proverbs 22: 17) (Proverbs 23: 23) (1 Corinthians 2: 6-16).
All of wisdom’s plans come out of, and are in harmony with true knowledge. Faith can rest upon it, and hope can desire and expect it to secure good results. Faith can confidently use such knowledge in hope when planning practical things. God confidently uses His knowledge in every plan that He forms, and He makes such plans to secure practical purposes.
Psalm 111: 10 reads, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” In this verse, the word “fear” means reverence, which is the source of wisdom, for it enables one to come into a proper relationship with God and man.
The Analysis of Wisdom
James 3: 17 reads, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” This “wisdom that is from above,” comes from God’s inspired Word, and is more desirable than all the wisdom of the earth. This passage goes on to analyze the seven qualities of the wonderful attribute of wisdom:
(1.) It is first pure, guileless, sincere, honorable, open and aboveboard. It comes to the light and loves the light; it is not of the darkness, nor of sin; it is utterly opposed to secret whisperings, backbitings and all slanderous and underhanded works and ways. It receives the pure word of wisdom into a good and honest heart. It does not deceive itself into believing that self-will is the Lord’s will.
(2.) It is next peaceable, that is to say, so far as is possible and consistent with honesty and purity, it is peaceable. It loves and desires peace, harmony and unity; but since purity is first and not peace, it can only be fully at peace and fully in harmony with that which is pure, honest and good.
(3.) It is gentle – it is not rude, coarse, rough and has no sympathy with such a spirit and such methods. Its gentleness follows its purity and peaceableness; those who receive this wisdom are not first gentle, but they are primarily pure, sanctified with the Truth, and therefore are peaceable and gentle toward others.
(4.) It is easy to be entreated. It is not hardheaded or unpersuadable, but listens to reason, it easily sees the viewpoint and interests of others and will not selfishly stand for its own opinion because it is its own. It is first pure, thereafter peaceable, then gentle, and only thereafter easy to be persuaded. Those who possess this quality cannot be easily entreated to assist in any evil work of bearing false witness, slandering, evil-speaking, or any other works of the flesh and the devil.
(5.) It is full of mercy and good fruits: it rejoices in mercy. This mercy will act toward the ignorant and unintentional evildoers with sympathy and help, but it cannot have the slightest sympathy or affiliation with willful wrongdoers, because the spirit of wisdom is not first merciful, but first pure.
(6.) It is without partiality (which would signify injustice): the purity, peace, gentleness, mercy and good fruits of the spirit of wisdom, lead us to be no respecters of persons, except as character shall demonstrate real value: the outward features of the natural man – sex, race, color of skin, etc., are ignored by the spirit of wisdom.
(7.) It is without hypocrisy. This heavenly wisdom is so pure, peaceable, gentle, persuadable and merciful toward all that are worthy of consideration or notice, that it has no room for hypocrisy. It is out of harmony, out of sympathy and out of fellowship with all that is sinful; but in fellowship and in sympathy with all that is pure.