A Calvin Theological Seminary Publication by Students & Alumni
“Is that a want, or a need?”

“Is that a want, or a need?”

I remember having many conversations with my parents growing up. I would frequently
have desires and wants growing up: from wanting to get McDonalds, to wanting a toy
from the local dollar store. I always framed these wants as something I “needed”.
Clearly, there is a stark contrast between the meaning of one and the other. We need
things like food, water, shelter; to take it into the Christian realm (although there is a
correlation between pagan sociology and Christian sociology) we need community to
flourish. We need the promises found exclusively in the blood of Christ shed, the
nourishment given to us in the Lord’s Supper, the assurance found in the sacrament of
Baptism. We need Christ for our very breath.

So, why do I classify wisdom as a “need?”

Well, obviously you don’t “need” wisdom in order to stay alive. When we make unwise
decisions we, typically, don’t end up losing our lives. Certainly there are consequences to
our actions, nobody would discount such.
When we view our “need” for wisdom, it pertains to so much more than our own
pleasure. It pertains to so much more than “getting ahead” of those around us. And it
means mountains more than getting the cutting edge over our peers. Our need for
wisdom lies within the nature of wisdom itself, and the impact wisdom plays in the
world around us.
How does God’s intention for wisdom impact those around us?
When God influenced and engineered the authorship of Proverbs, He communicated a
different reality than sources of wisdom around us. He communicated a wise way to
engage in the creation around us in order that we could become the best kind of citizens

in our temporary home. And what would set the people of Israel apart from those
around them, was their concern to honor God, and to uphold the value of his image
bearers. In fact, the personified character Wisdom says this in Proverbs 1:22-23

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing

and fools hate knowledge?
If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you”

The question is this: Who is wisdom calling out to? And why?
Wisdom is crying out to all those who find themselves without wisdom. The concern for
this wisdom character is twofold: That they would each abandon foolishness, and turn
from their lifeless insanity to a life changed. The character is calling out to everyone.
The Scriptures indicate that Christ needed to act on our behalf because of our
weaknesses, because we were walking dead in the kingdom of darkness (Rom. 5:4; Eph
Why would wisdom be calling out to the foolish? Why not be rid of them all and have
your “easy bake” utopia of a world?

It’s because of God’s intent for Eden

“In the beginning, God created…” You can read this account and come out the other side
thinking “Man, this was an entirely God thing.” Many, including myself, would forget
the “co-laboring” of the garden. God started it all by declaring the world into order. Yet
there was a part missing: the subduing (or dominion creating) in the world. It was God’s

intent (as reinforced by the Noahic covenant and the Abrahamic covenant) that humans
would continue bringing chaos into order. That God’s image bearers would bring the
entirety of creation under subjection to Christ. Making all creation under the
preeminence of Christ (Col. 1:15-20).
And so, when we look at the wisdom provided by Proverbs, we can read it understanding
that God in His providence desires a world where his image bearers are flourishing. That
every interaction and pursuit between those in God’s creation would be described as
living within the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7).

So why do we have a need for God-given wisdom?

We need God-given wisdom because God has the best world in mind for his image
bearers, and it is our duty as believers to carry out his vision for the kingdom of God
here and now. On earth as in heaven

~ Gavin Schaefer