Trust—More Than Just Believing
September 1, 2006 - Few things are more painful, frustrating and disappointing than when someone doesn’t keep his or her word. Broken promises and irresponsible actions reveal a person’s unreliability and damage others’ ability to have confidence in that person. The more we experience betrayal, the less willing we will be to trust again at the same level. Trust is the glue in every personal relationship, and once our confidence is wounded, these relationships are damaged.
by Ross Rhoads
The rise of divorce, the abuse of children by parents and predators, and the lying and corruption in business and government all weaken and destroy people’s ability to trust. In the absence of a human example, fatherless children struggle to trust a heavenly Father. When a parent cannot be relied on as a believable anchor, confidence is destroyed, and children develop fears and uncertainty. Only absolute truth can be the basis for trust.
To trust is to have confidence in and to commit to the integrity of a person or thing. For example, banks were first named, “trust companies.” Credit is a form of trust in the purchaser’s intention to pay the amount of the credit extended. Background checks establish levels of trust. The strength of trust is reliability. Consequently, trust is destroyed by the discovery of misleading statements, lies, abused confidence and any withholding of information that might call into question one’s trustworthiness.
Unfortunately, people today seem to trust only what is relevant to their experiences. Truth is what is true to them, or whatever they want it to be. People trust what feels good or brings a sense of happiness, even though what is believed and relied upon may not have lasting value. The pragmatic view is that something is true if it brings the right results.
This approach to Christian truths results in adapting to the trends and tastes of contemporary culture, catering to the preference for relevance and personal experience and the offer of a “gospel according to me.” But eventually discerning seekers will sense a lack of permanence and a false sense of security because the object of trust was not the eternal Word of God. Charles Haddon Spurgeon scolded his contemporaries for “entertaining goats and not feeding the sheep.”
Biblical words for trust imply safety, security and firmness. In the Psalms alone, more than 80 references describe God as a refuge, rock, shelter, shield and fortress. The sense of the New Testament Greek word is confidence. But the Bible warns against confidence in our own righteousness. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus admonishes those “who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else” (Luke 18:9, NIV). Paul spoke of the “confidence we have through Christ toward God” (2 Corinthians 3:4, NASB). Confidence in trusting the Lord is reasonable and reassuring because God is eternally immutable. He is changeless. The Bible says “in Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Cf. James 1:17). Furthermore, it is impossible for God to lie, reverse Himself or deny His Word. God’s faithfulness is His most appealing characteristic in this age when change is the only constant.
Trust involves more than just believing. “Even the demons believe,” Jesus said (James 2:19, NKJV). Trust assumes a commitment. Trust is confidence, based solely on the capacity and integrity of a person to perform what has been promised. Trust is a noun before it becomes a verb. On this basis a person acts as if what is said will occur. Noah trusted the word of God and built the ark (Genesis 6:11-13; 7:5). Abraham began to offer his son as a sacrifice in spite of the consequences; he raised his knife in complete trust of God’s previous promise (Genesis 15:4-5; 22:9-10). David shouted his trust in God’s presence and then committed to that trust when he selected a stone for the first and fatal shot to Goliath’s head (1 Samuel 17:45-49). Elijah baptized the altar with water and trusted that God would send fire to answer his prayer. He knew God would validate His integrity and judgment of the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:30-39). Many of Jesus’ miracles included a reference to the trust of those seeking healing, hope or salvation.
Trust affirms and accepts the outcome of what has been stated or promised. “Trust in the Lord ... commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this” (Psalm 37:3-5, NIV). Thank God that we can put our trust in the One who is absolutely trustworthy.
Five Truths About Trust
- Trusting in the Lord for salvation brings great satisfaction and happiness. “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me” (Psalm 13:5-6, NIV).
- Trust in the Lord must be exclusive. This is necessary because all else is temporary. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Psalm 118:8, NIV). “Some trust in chariots and some in horses [military power], but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7, NIV).
- Trusting can threaten a person’s sense of security. Self-reliance seems safer. However, when trust is withheld from God, it indicates pride and a lack of humility. This is self-righteousness. Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled” (Luke 18:14, NIV).
- Trust in the Lord prevents spiritual insensitivity and indifference. “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. … so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:12-13, NIV).
- Trust in the Lord is the requirement for discovering life’s purpose and direction. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).