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There are only a few things in life that you really need. Here’s the list of primary needs, in two categories:
Of course, there are secondary needs, like love, which are important, but in the most technical sense, there are only five primary needs. Unfortunately, many individuals have elevated and added secondary needs and desires to the non-negotiable level of primary need.
Image bearers should always reciprocate the lower shelf of secondary needs and desires, but the danger of elevating them to primary needs is that if you do not receive them, you may become demanding or even manipulative as though you were fighting for air or water.
When “perceived secondary needs,” desires, cravings or lusts become major needs in your life, you will always live in relational disharmony where individuals are no longer equal. The needy person will exert power over those with whom he can manipulate to get what he wants. These individuals with “expanded need categories” place undue anxiety on others.
Here are a few examples of how “expanded need categories” place excessive demands on others. All of these statements come from the heart of sinful anger.
Secondary needs demanded will foster fractured relationships. Angry people learn this truth the hard way. Most of the time, our anger is more like a low-grade fever that rides under the surface of our lives. It is more subtle than the culture’s rage, but it is powerful enough to rob the joy that Christ offers with the victory He won through the gospel.
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. – Luke 6:27-28
Choosing not to be angry does not mean the only option left is passivity. In Luke 6:27-49, Jesus chose not to get angry or become a doormat. Jesus was an aggressive, proactive man when it came to His cause, though His aggression was different from the angry Christlike image bearer.
He did not become sinfully angry or pout when He did not get His way–both forms of manipulation for the “needy” person who only gives you one option: “Do what I want you to do.” When Jesus did not get what He wanted, He chose to love in response.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
Jesus’s choice to love when others disappointed Him was a better answer than arguing with a difficult person. Think about how God responded to you when you were difficult. The result of His affection for you changed your life forever–assuming you are regenerated. His transformative love was so powerful that you chose to follow Him for the rest of your life.
And Christ’s love pouring out of you inspires others to draw closer to you and God. Satan’s anger coming out of you polarizes people while pushing them farther from you and God. It is the kindness of God working through you that leads people to a transformed life (Romans 2:4).
It takes a boatload of maturity to respond to adversity with the love of God. Small, selfish, human thinking will never reach the heights of this kind of love. Immature, insecure, demanding people have a long list of primary needs, and the only way they know how to get those desires met is through manipulative anger.
Mature Christians are like Jesus; they ask for little while their hearts are big with love as they enjoy the freedom found in the blessedness of nothingness.
The Anger Spectrum
Whatever you need will control you. What are some of the “needs” that control you? Of course, you need food, water, air, shelter, and salvation. What else is on your need list, and how do you respond when you don’t get those things?
Rather than quibbling over the idea of “needs versus desires,” what if you spend some time reflecting on the things that “own you so much” that you sin when people don’t meet your expectations (James 1:14-15, 4:1-3). How do your ungodly responses to disappointment affect those closest to you?
An excellent assignment for you would be to read the book of Proverbs six times over the next six months. Read one chapter per day. E.g., on day one, read chapter one; on day two, read chapter two. Pay particular attention to the wise and foolish persons in that book and make notes of how you can become wiser.