The idea is usually represented as a pyramid, with the most fundamental needs being the biggest, and placed at the bottom progressing upward through needs that are less urgent. This means that a person who has a lack in the first and most urgent level and also in a higher level will see the first as more important to deal with, and the second as less important, or not worth considering until the first is satisfactorily resolved. It looks something like this – the top layer is the least urgent the need of self-actualisation:
lack of prejudice,
acceptance of facts
achievement, respect of others,
Respect by others
Love / belonging
friendship, family, sexual intimacy
security of: body, employment, resources,
morality, family, health, property
The biggest and most urgent is that of Physiological needs
breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion.
There have been many criticisms of this model, and I’m not interested in picking it apart as much as I want to raise the question of what Jesus had to say about this issue (although I will mention that sex is not a basic need for survival as much as a felt need that is fed into by society – you could remain a virgin your entire life and be perfectly okay).
So before you read on, consider how you think Jesus might have prioritised these things.
Go ahead, I’ll wait while you think about it.
Feel free to discuss it with the person nearest to you.
So, what did you come up with?
Here’s a list of scriptures (with links) to consider: Acts 17:25, Matthew 4:4, John 6:26ff, John 4:13f, Matthew 6:25-34, Matthew 10:34-39, Matthew 19:29
Jesus spoke a lot about the issues in the list, particularly those at the bottom of the pyramid. It seems to me without fail, he said that these things were less important than knowing and honouring God. He said that we ought not to spend all our attention on these needs. God knows what we need and he will provide those things for us. The problem with the hierarchy Maslow gave from the perspective of the Christian, is it leaves “spiritual concerns” largely out of the list entirely and only approaches them after everything else has been seen to. Jesus would say that the first priority is to focus on your need of God and trust him to take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
The short answer…
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.