Lesson 5 – The Higher Needs of the Human Soul

The Higher Needs of the Human Soul

Scripture:   Matthew 6:25-34


Please re-study the Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, Part I, Lesson One.  Our needs for things like food, security, sex, sociability, achievement and glory were all “built in” by God Almighty.  In computer language, it can be said we are “hand-wired” with certain needs during our time in the womb.  We did not learn, or adopt, these urges.  God put them in us.  It is not necessary to have a degree in sociology to understand and to know about these things about humanity.  We can observe a newborn baby.  They quickly learn to get satisfaction for food, social security, achievement and glory.  Loving parents are happy to cooperate with their children.  Christians’ Heavenly Father is also happy to cooperate with the learning processes of His children to attain and maintain satisfaction for these same innate needs.  This is one of the great messages Jesus proclaimed in our text.

Our world has been our “schoolroom” for learning.  The scope of our “schoolroom” is greatly influenced by our “world view.”  Please see the excerpt in the body of this lesson.  In the scenarios where we have had some success in our learning exercises, we have developed the emotions of faith and love.  The environment may not have always been friendly in our “schoolroom.”  In these circumstances, we may not have felt satisfied in regard to one or more of our inherent needs.  This is how fear and anger can become our emotional attitudes.

The circumstance that produced our fears and angers can, thereafter, illicit these emotions even though the particular need is not present.  This means we have been conditioned by the original stimulus to fear and anger.  Fear emotions with which we have been conditioned may cause conflict in our lives and take away our potential power of character to keep “asking, seeking and knocking” for satisfaction (Matt. 7:7, 8).    Many of our fears are simply an expression of inner conflict.  This is the meaning of the word “anxiety.”

Food, clothing, shelter and sex are lower innate needs for our lives while we abide in our physical bodies.  They are temporary needs.  The Apostle Paul made this point in his letter to the Corinthian church members.

“Food for the stomach and the stomach for food – but God will destroy both.  The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body.  I Cor. 6:13

Jesus emphasized the more important or higher needs in verse twenty-five of our text.  They are more important because they relate to the development of our “eternal self.”  People have no trouble understanding that our body is more important than the clothes we wear; however, many people appear to have trouble understanding that life is more important than the mundane aspects of life.   Our spirits came from God and indwell our physical bodies.  Our spirits have been identified as our “selves” by the Apostle Paul (Eph. 4:22-24).  Our “selves” consist of the attitudes and character traits Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter five.  This is the part of mankind that will transcend physical life (II Cor. 4:16-18).  We will not fully attain satisfaction for the higher needs in our lifetime on earth; we can be happy because we can hope (Rom. 8:23-25).  We can hope because God endowed mankind with imagination.  We need to use it as we read God’s word.  The Greek word that has been translated “life” in our text is “psuche.”  The following scripture is how “psuche” is defined.

The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life (zoe), and may have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd layeth down his life (psuche) for the sheep.  John 10:10, 11


In our text Jesus assures Christians that our Father is aware of how He created us.   He knows about our individual needs for food and other body urges.  Furthermore, Jesus went to great lengths to assure us God will provide for these needs if we seek His kingdom and His righteousness.  If we choose to make God’s kingdom and His righteousness our second choice, what will be our first choice?  Our first choice will be our lower needs.  This is the choice of pagans (ethnics, those who are not God’s people).  Jesus warned that we will use much of our time and energy worrying about the mundane aspects of life, if the pursuit of our basic needs is our first choice.  We will continuously fret about situations in which we cannot control the outcome.  We can plant our garden but we cannot make it rain.

The Greek word used to quote Jesus in verses 25 and 31 for “worry” is “merimnao.”  It means “to be anxious about” – a distracting care.  A person is distracted from their potential of what the future holds for them in God’s kingdom.  Anxiety is a fear of tomorrow before it arrives.  Jesus cautioned that each day will be challenge enough for the strength of our character.  Anxiety results in disintegration of one’s power to focus on the challenges of the next day.  Since the challenges of life work for the strengthening of our character, we must not suffer from distractions.  Jesus said, in essence, it is really very silly to get distracted from the higher needs in our lives by the lesser things.  The joke is on us, for “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  Verse 27.

We may want to review our previous lessons on the degrading effect of fear to one’s character.  The strength of our character is our source of power for our “will to act” upon circumstances in our lives.  Anxiety is one form of the great darkness that is the result of having a “bad eye” – an inadequate world view.  Please review the chart in the Introduction of Part IV.  The following is an excerpt from Part I, Lesson Two.

Matt. 6:19-34.  Integration is a condition of personality.  The emotional attitudes of an integrated person are harmonious.  This allows all their efforts to achieve their goals to be directed toward the goal.  Their mind, heart and behavior support their will to act.  This is critical in one’s activity to satisfy a need God packaged in us.  If an individual has an integrated personality he or she will be successful and the emotion of faith and love will develop.  If on the other hand, they are flawed with disintegration, satisfaction will be elusive and fear and anger will be the resulting emotion.  These emotions make up personality.  Jesus taught the value of the “good eye.”  How people see reality.  Some call it one’s “world view.” 

If one’s view is only “earth and time bound” they will have developed their emotions in their response to a material environment.  For them, youth is great, middle age is a struggle and senior citizens are over the hill.  Anxiety attacks are the result of disintegration.  If one adds the kingdom of God to their earth and time view, they open up a vast spiritual universe for the satisfaction of their needs.  The material world and one’s physical body become only a “now thing.”  A “good eye” is an “eye of faith” that opens up possibilities for the soul beyond time.  Death loses its great power (Heb. 2:14, 15).  This frees a person to serve the Master of the creation of heaven and earth.  End of excerpt.

According to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our lives (psuche) can be free of anxiety.  This message is from Christians’ king and high priest.  We must have faith in every word of the head of the church of which we are a member (Eph. 1:22, 23).  We can examine ourselves and know if we are worried.  Most of us, if we are completely honest with ourselves, will find some issues in our life about which we worry.  When we are convinced by Jesus in our text that first, it is totally unnecessary and second, the fact that we do worry is what we need to be most concerned about.  If there is anything Christians should suffer with anxiety about (there is nothing) it would be the fact we worry.  It must stop and each of us holds the “off/on switch” in our will.

What then, shall we do about those issues that disintegrate our “selves” and rob us of what we want to be?  We know the answer.  “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” is Jesus’ “single eye” answer.  There is no other answer.  God sent Jesus into this world to give us this answer and then to make it possible for us to be free from anxiety.  Anxiety is a killer both physically and spiritually.

Let us consider what Jesus has already taught in His sermon preceding our text in relation to God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

  1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matt. 5:3.  We studied this emotional attitude in Part II, Lesson One.  This is the attitude of a person who desires to learn in order to achieve.  They want to re-invent themselves by changing what makes them poor in relation to the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus promised that with this attitude we have the kingdom culture within us (Luke 17:21).  Furthermore, He said we would be happy within ourselves because we learned to be poor in spirit.  Our choices are to be happy or to worry.  It is a choice.  God has given mankind choice.  It got Adam and Eve in trouble.  They became very anxious when God appeared after they sinned (Gen. 3:8).  Christians, through Jesus, have been given the choice to get out of trouble by seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  Anxiety is big trouble.
  2. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”  Matt. 5:6.  A strong desire for righteousness is the attitude Jesus taught.  Since righteousness belongs in the category of behavior, we are speaking of the third stage of learning.  What we learned in our minds and hearts became internalized in our personality and character.  This is our “selves.”  It is from our selves our behavior flows (Matt. 7:24).  There is also feedback from the experience of our behavior that strengthens our selves.  We do love in order to be love (I John 4:16, 17).  We reinforce our passion in our behavior.  The important thing is to practice the proper behavior and that is why God has revealed His righteousness to us by Jesus’ life and teachings (Rom. 1:17).  Christians become a slave to God’s righteousness (Rom. 6:19).  In this process God’s righteousness is internalized into our hearts (Rom. 10:6-8).  When our lives are integrated around the righteousness of God, anxiety will disappear from our “selves.”  It is then we can be filled because we will be people of courage.  We move forth in our environment in the pursuit of satisfaction for our inherent needs.  We become salt and light for others because we are full of light (Matt. 5:13-16; 6:22).  We maintain “self-control” because we have an attitude of hungering and thirsting for God’s righteousness (I Thess. 5:8).
  3. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”  Matt. 5:10.  This is the attitude that will drive the final elements of anxiety from our selves.  The fact, that we will discipline ourselves to accept persecution because of our righteousness, suggests that we have stopped worrying.  We have had the courage to stand for the righteousness of God.  What a victory!
  4. “For I tell you unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Christians have the poor in spirit attitude.  We are learners of Christ, in other words we are disciples of Christ.  We have strong emotions about God’s right-wise-ness, the literal word for righteousness.  We accept the persecution that follows the practice of righteousness.  This means we live above the world.  Ours is the kingdom of God – now.  We fulfill the righteousness of the Law of Moses from the inside out (Matt. 5:17-20).  We have stopped worrying like the pagans do about what we believe God will provide (Matt. 6:30-32).  This does not mean we have stopped working to maintain our physical needs (I Thess. 4:11, 12).


Jesus taught this lesson for the benefit of the vast multitudes of people who worry.  This lesson was taught by Jesus after He had established another spiritual law.  This law stated that where your treasure is, that is where your heart, or emotions, will be.  He used this law to point out the only safe place for our treasure is with God (I Pet. 1:4, 5).  If we try to store our treasure in another place, we will worry about its safety.  Developing a life with the nature of Jesus is a treasure.  The text in this lesson is another aspect of the foregoing text in His sermon.  It is about how to become a person with integrity – the result of an integrated “self.” 

Where we decide to lay up our treasure will have everything to do with which master we are willing to serve, God or mammon.  If we have not fully decided we will try to serve both and it won’t work.  We will have disintegration in our “selves” because the focal point of our emotions will go from one aim to another.  The person who has fully decided on mammon as his or her master will probably get along better in this life on earth than the people who tries to serve both.  Of course, like the farmer who built bigger barns in Luke l2:13-21, they will have no part in God’s kingdom.  The person who fully chooses God’s will as their master will get along well in this life because he or she has one goal – the single eye.  We learn how seeking to do God’s will is synonymous with seeking God’s kingdom from Jesus’ model prayer (Matt. 6:10).

There is more to life than eating, drinking and having cover.  There is a part of our selves that is emotional about our treasure.  There is a part of us that relates to God as His child.  We seek after Him.  If He has done so much to assure us of security in the spiritual realm, it seems unreal to think He would let us down in the physical realm.  “Birds of the air” are cared for by God, yet they have no place in eternity.  This should be proof enough that God will take care of us whose spirits came from God.

The part of us destined for eternity as a son of God is the part of us that must seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness now in this life if we will be able to lay up treasures in heaven.  In simple psychology Jesus is saying we need a clear vision of the real part of ourselves, not just the eating and drinking part (II Cor. 4:16-18).  We need a clear vision of ourselves as God’s sons in eternity.  We need to understand that a true treasure is developing the attitudes of Jesus because they are beneficial now and we will need them in eternity (Luke 18:29, 30).

Questions for Discussion

  1. List some of the needs people do not need to learn.  Can you think of some that are not mentioned in this lesson?
  2. In what sense is our environment in the world our schoolroom?
  3. How does fear and anger become a part of our personality and character?
  4. Explain what Jesus meant when He stated the rhetorical question, “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”
  5. Define anxiety.
  6. If we do not make God’s kingdom and His righteousness our first choice what did Jesus say would happen to our “selves?”
  7. What is the value of having an integrated personality and character?
  8. Name the great enemy of an integrated personality and character.
  9. How can one’s “world view” relate to the disintegration of their “selves?”
  10. How can Christians’ know if we suffer from anxiety?
  11. What is Jesus’ one and only answer for overcoming anxiety?
  12. Write a summary paragraph about what Jesus taught about God’s kingdom and His righteousness in His sermon before the text in this lesson.

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