June 29, 1993 (repeated on July 6, 1993)
A psychologist named Maslow once defined human needs using a pyramid-shaped diagram. Teachers, social workers and other people-helpers use his “hierarchy of needs” to simplify a rather complex topic. At the base of the diagram, Maslow placed basic physiological requirements, such as food and shelter. While these are important for survival, after they are taken care of, Maslow believed people find life more fulfilling if other needs are also met. Further up his list he added important emotional and social needs: a sense of security and the need to be loved and to belong.
The final, most important needs are for self esteem, significance and self-actualization or “to live up to one’s fullest and unique potential.”
From God’s perspective, Maslow’s triangle is incomplete. For starters, He would include such items as grace, mercy, forgiveness and a saving relationship with His Son. God knows these are important for peace and joy, and necessary for a life that lasts beyond this one.
God does not leave out the needs Maslow listed, however. They are important too. In fact, they are so important that He promises to make sure they are all met. He even calls Himself JEHOVAH-JIRAH, meaning “Jehovah (the self-existent One) provides.”
The apostle Paul further explains, “God shall supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” That “all” includes Maslow’s list and everything God adds to it.
Acts 17 says He gives everyone life, breath and all good things. Matthew 6 promises if we make His kingdom and His righteousness the priorities of our life, He will make sure all our physical needs are met, either through our capacity to work for a living (which He also gives us) or by other means.
While God never promises a life without trials, the Psalms are filled with promises of safety and security for those who trust Him. We are secure because He uses even the most difficult circumstances for our good. When life is over, He even uses death to usher us into eternity where we are secure and at peace with Him forever.
He meets our need for love also. Jeremiah 31:3 says: “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’”
Human love is usually conditional and not always reliable but God’s love is without strings and never fails. Furthermore, when we know His love, we have the capacity to love others beyond anything we could imagine. He produces in us love that is pure and selfless.
God meets our need for significance in an amazing way too. When we believe in His Son, He makes us His children. He declares our worth by the price He was willing to pay for us when Jesus died on the cross. Anyone loved, redeemed, and adopted by God Himself has great significance indeed.
The need to become all that we possibly can is also met by God. His goal is that we be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, He says one day that WILL happen; we will be exactly like Him (1 John 3). Who could imagine a loftier potential!
The Bible says “godliness has value for all things” because it holds a promise for both the present life and the life to come. In other words, His “hierarchy of needs” has greater scope than Maslow’s list; He adds those important to our eternal well-being. Furthermore, in love and grace, He tags to each need a promise that He will meet every one of them.