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Trust

By William R. Cunningham
March 4, 2000

Introduction

Trust is a necessary part of the human life because no one is self-sufficient. We have to trust the knowledge and experience of the doctors, mechanics, carpenters, etc. because we can't do everything. Therefore, the question is not whether we should trust; rather, whom should we trust? We are told in church and by ministers on television and radio to trust God. We are told that we cannot trust people because people will fail us. I do not agree with that teaching because trusting God implies that you will have to trust people. As a matter of fact, to believe the former teaching means that you trust the preacher that told you that so right away you have done what they have told you not to do-trust people.

So what is trust and how does it operate? More specifically, how should a Christian use trust in the governing of his or her life? What does it really mean to trust God and how does that relate to trusting people on the earth? The answer to these and similar question is the topic of this study. We will see how very important trust is in any relationship and especially the relationship between God and us. This does not negate the trust of other people; rather it helps us in that endeavor. We will see how trust is a key ingredient in a marriage relationship, our relationship with God, business relationship, family relationships, and more.

Scripture Lesson

Read Judges chapters six and seven. I will highlight some key verses that are particular to this lesson.

Judges 7:1 through Judges 7:3 (NKJV) Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the well of Harod, so that the camp of the Midianites was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. And the LORD said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.' Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, 'Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.'" And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.

Gideon was called by God to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites (chapter 6). What was very interesting about God's calling of Gideon was that God dealt with Gideon where he was. Gideon asked God for a sign so that he would know that it was really God talking to him (through an Angel). God obliged and gave him a sign by consuming a sacrifice with fire from a rock. Gideon also asked God to give him a sign so that he would know that God really gave them victory over the Midianites and other Eastern peoples that joined forces. God gave him a sign, which was the famous fleece sign (Judges 6:36-49).

Now in Judges 7, Gideon prepares to do battle with the Midianites. However, God wants him to decrease the number of his forces else Israelite will brag about their own strength. So the army was decreased from 30,000 to 10,000 men. We can only imagine what might have been going through Gideon's mind. God was taking men away from the army. However, Gideon had faith that God would be with him and that God had already assured them of victory.

Judges 7:4 through Judges 7:7 (NKJV) But the LORD said to Gideon, "The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, 'This one shall go with you,' the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, 'This one shall not go with you,' the same shall not go." So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, "Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink." And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the LORD said to Gideon, "By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place."

God said that there were still too many people for battle. God therefore caused the number of men to drop from 10,000 to 300. We must consider that the number of men in the Midianite army were many (in the thousands). Consider the following verse.

Judges 7:12 (NKJV) Now the Midianites and Amalekites, all the people of the East, were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.

You can only imagine the amount of faith and confidence that Gideon and the three hundred men had in order to go against such great odds. Gideon trusted the Lord whereas I believe that the 100 men trusted in Gideon (they followed orders). The end result of all of this trust was victory.

Judges 7:19 through Judges 7:22 (NKJV) So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just as they had posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers-they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing-and they cried, "The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!" And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man's sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath.

I must point out that the key to this victory and trust was obedience. God was trusted but only according to God's terms. There were NO leaps of faith in the dark. Rather, there were leaps of faith according to what God had said, which lead to victory. Also note that the 300 men must have had some confidence or faith in Gideon in order for them to go out and face such incredible odds. We will discuss this aspect of faith when we discuss trusting others.

Trust Defined

The definition of the word trust follows.

 

1 a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something

b : one in which confidence is placed

2 a : dependence on something future or contingent : hope

b : reliance on future payment for property (as merchandise) delivered : credit

1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

There are at least two perspectives of trust. One is the reliance on someone or something. For example, you may trust someone to do something for you or you may trust God to deliver you. Another aspect of trust, which is the primary topic of this study, is to trust what someone says. This relates to the dependability and character of a person more so then your reliance upon them in a general context. For example, you may trust that someone will meet you at a certain time or you may trust that God will do what he says he will do in His word. This type of trust is very much related to the character of a person and how much you can depend on them based on past experiences with that person.

This type of "character" trust is earned and learned. You learn to trust that someone will be on time because he or she always is (for the most part). Being human, we do understand that there are some things that are totally out of our control and therefore may prohibit us from doing what we say when we said we would do it. However, with God this is not the case. The more you experience the faithfulness of God the more you learn to trust Him. Why? God has consistently shown himself true to his word.

Are you true to your word or do you just say things off the top of your head? Do you truly trust God or do you just practice blind faith?

The Need For Evidence

It is important to realize that trust requires evidence or data relative to the perspective that I am taking in this study. I said earlier that you learn to trust someone by observing what they say and what they do. If a person consistently does what he or she says that he or she will do then we tend to trust what that person says. Why? We have the evidence (past experience with the person) to support trust in that person. Consider the following verses of scripture.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

First there is the statement to trust God. Why trust God though? Consider the following scripture.

2 Samuel 22:31 through 2 Samuel 22:33 (NKJV) As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. "For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect.

This is a testimony of King David after God delivered him from his enemies and Saul. God came through for David and he can come through for us if we trust him. David's testimony serves as evidence for the trustworthiness of God.

Proverbs 22:19 (NIV) So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you.

This one clearly reveals the necessity of learning to trust God. First there is instruction. We need a reason to trust God in the first place, which we can gather from the Holy Scriptures. The testimonies of others are also a good source for a reason to put your trust in God. Through testimonies, we can see how God came through for someone else and this may help us to give him the opportunity to come through for us.

Psalm 37:3 through Psalm 37:6 (NIV) Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

We can always measure the trustworthiness of God or anyone for that matter. Did he do what he said he would do? The consistent answer to that question will deem a person trustworthy or not.

Trusting God

How would you know whether to trust God or not? You must have evidence to give you a reason to trust him and then after proving Himself trustworthy or faithful you trust him overall. The Bible tells us many times to trust God and it gives us reasons for trusting him. He is a fortress, strength, faithful, a deliverer, helper, etc. We can take the testimonies of others and take a chance and trust God and He will come through for us.

Trust Based On Truth

There is one very important thing that we must understand when we consider our trust in God. We must trust God based on what He has provided and not our wishful thinking. In other words, if God said it then we can believe it and stand on it. He will not fail in carrying out his word. Let me give you an example of this concept.

1 John 5:14 through 1 John 5:15 (NKJV) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

We see in this scripture that when we pray to God in confidence that we must pray according to God's will. God will do nothing outside of his will. Therefore, when we pray and believe God as in Mark 11:22-24, we must believe what God has said and not "just believe." Too often I hear people say that they are believing God for this or believing God for that without really understanding that their belief must be based on God's word. If our trust in God is not founded on His word then our trust is unfounded. God is not going to do something just because I want it. He does things sometimes because I may desire it but He also operates within His WAY.

So we must know God's word in order for us to truly trust Him. We must know what we can trust Him for in order for us to truly put our faith in Him. The information that we need to know where to trust God is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. In general, our faith must be founded on fact.

Trusting Others

The same principle as the one given above applies to trusting people. We require evidence in order to trust someone. We trust certain people because they have shown themselves trustworthy. In other words, they do what they say consistently. A major difference between God and us is that God is not hindered by situations that may arise but we are. The most dependable person on the planet earth may be hindered from carrying out what he says because of some emergency that may come up or a situation that is beyond his control.

Now the Bible teaches us to put our trust in God. Does that mean that we shouldn't trust people? Of course not. We have to trust people within the realm of humans. For example, I may trust God to do something for me but I still have to rely on certain individuals to bring that something to pass. Try flying to another state with JUST your faith. You will need to board an airplane and therefore trust the airline relative to safety, the pilot, the flight attendants, etc. Sooner or later (more sooner than later) we are going to have to trust a human being. So it is important to trust God and it is necessary to trust individuals.

Now I said that we trust people because they have shown themselves to be trustworthy. Are you trustworthy? Do you do what you say that you are going to do or do you just say things for effect? When you say that you are going to do a job, do people expect or assume it's done or do they immediately make a backup plan because the probability of you not doing it is higher than average. The same way that you expect people to do what they say is the same way that you should do what you say you're going to do. Consider the following scripture.

Matthew 5:37 (NKJV) 7But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

This is a very interesting and powerful scripture because it reveals a major point. Jesus was talking about swearing in this particular verse of scripture. Why do people swear? They need to give more credibility to what they say because they know the other person probably won't believe him or her. If you are known to be reliable and trustworthy then all you have to say is yes or no. You don't have to try to convince the person that you will do it because they already assume you will due. So if you can't simply say yes or no and people believe you with that then you are probably not viewed as trustworthy or dependable and therefore you need to do some work in that department.

Whom should you trust

This is the million-dollar question because you usually don't really know whom you can trust until after you have trusted them (given them the opportunity to be trusted). Then you discover who is dependable and who is not. One very important thing that you should notice is the character of the person based on the information that you have gathered about him or her. Realize that sometimes we have to trust a person merely on their word such as in an emergency situation.

Whom should you trust? The answer now becomes very simple. Trust those who have shown themselves trustworthy.

Impact on your trust of God

Some would say that you should only trust God and not put your trust in man. This is true in context. To trust God sometimes mean that you will trust other people. For example, my son Nate was recently taken to the emergency room because I believed that something was wrong with him. The doctors and medical staff begin to connect him to monitors, take blood, and place Intravenous lines in him. He cried very hard and he looked at me a few times as if to say, "Daddy help!" My heart sank. However, I had previously prayed and decided that I would not react emotionally in this situation. I believed that God would deliver our son from his ailments.

If I trusted God without trusting people then I would not have taken him to the hospital. I trusted my mother for advice and I trusted Nate's pediatrician whom I called. I later had to trust the medical staff at the hospital. What did I trust? I trusted the knowledge that my mother has in raising three sons and going through situations such as this. I trusted the knowledge of my pediatrician. I also trusted the knowledge and experience of the medical staff of the hospital to take good care of Nate. Above all of that I trusted that God would take care of Nate. How would God take care of Nate? Whatever it took. In this situation it turned out to be through the medical staff of the hospital and the advice of my mother. I trusted God ultimately and I trusted people individually and specifically.

So trusting people does not undermine your trust in God. In its proper context it actually supports your trust in God. Just remember that God's wisdom guides you and God will work all things out for you if you just listen to him and do what he says. This means to use God's wisdom in what you do.

Trust in Relationships

I remember two very important incidences in my life that was instrumental in my great respect for my parents and they both revolve around trust. The incident with my father and mother was one of the greatest moments that I can recall pertaining to his trust or faith in me and me living up to that trust. That incident, which I am about to describe, was also one of the scariest events in my life too.

He Trusted Me

One day a friend of my father's and someone accompanying him visited. Later that day, my father asked my brother and I to sit down at the dining room table. My mother was present too. My father said that my mother found a small bag of marijuana (nickel bag) on the steps. His question was simply, "Does this belong to you?" I said no but I was so scared because there was no real reason to believe me and there was no reason for him not too. The only thing that my brother and I had going for us is that we were not into such things. We were basically good kids. My brother said that it wasn't his as well. Then my father did something that was astonishing. He simply said something like, "OK" and then turned to my mom and said that if they said it isn't theirs then it doesn't belong to them. I was shaking in my boots and I'm sure my brother was too. There was no interrogation, no investigation, and no accusations. My father just trusted in us so much that he believed us and took us at our word.

Later that day my parents found out that the person that accompanied my father's friend was the owner of the marijuana. I was relieved for sure. We were off the hook in our own minds and we lived up to our father's trust in us. I never forgot that incident. My father trusted me. He trusted that I was telling the truth and he trusted that I wasn't doing drugs (and I wasn't).

I never saw my father the same way after that. This man trusted me for no reason except by my word. A great respect grew for my father after that and a desire to always live up to that kind of trust. I never did drugs or anything like that. I wanted to make something of myself to honor my parents just for things like that.

A Reason To Trust

Of course there are many things that you can look back on that your parents did that gives you a reason to trust them. I remember one incident with my mother that also changed my life. There was a ten-speed bicycle that I wanted for Christmas that was in the JCPenny Christmas Catalog. I showed my mother and she said that she couldn't afford it. Instead, she would get me another type of ten-speed bike. It was OK because a ten-speed is a ten-speed. However, the ten-speed I wanted had gadgets. It had positron gears with a front freewheel system. I was disappointed but still glad that I was going to get a bike.

Then one evening I accompanied my mother to JCPenny on 69th Street in Philadelphia. We were near the bicycle section so I went over to take a look at the bikes. To my amazement the bike that I originally wanted was ON SALE! Evidently it became affordable because my mom purchased it. I got the bike I wanted. I thanked God and my parents because I loved that bike. I rode many miles on that bike and I still have it to this day in very good condition.

My mom wasn't "blowing me off." She had a Christmas budget and the bike would put her over the limit. When the bike's price was lower because of the sale, it then was within her budget. She got it. She still could have gotten me the other bike but I think the price difference between the two was negligible. I could trust my mom that when she said something that it was for real. Her words were not empty but had data behind it. Data is very important to me. As a matter of fact, I learned how to budget and manage my money by observing my parents.

So I knew then that I could trust what my mother said to me. If she said no then the answer was no. I could also take it to the bank if she said yes.

When to Trust

When should you exercise faith in God? Many times I hear people say that they are going to believe God. People say to just trust God and to have faith in him and everything will work out. However, I disagree. We can only trust God according to what God has said. We can only have confidence in God if the implementation of that trust is in obedience to His word. The action of faith cannot exist without God's word. We cannot dream something up and assume that God will be on our side. Consider the following scripture.

1 John 5:14 through 1 John 5:15 (NKJV) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

1 John 3:22 (NKJV) And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Mark 11:22 through Mark 11:24 (NKJV) So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Basically, we can trust God when His word is behind that trust or at times where we can only trust in his mercy (times of calamity for example).

Trust in God's Mercy

We may also trust in the mercy and grace of God to see us through. Consider the following scriptures.

Psalm 52:8 (NKJV) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.

2 Samuel 12:19 through 2 Samuel 12:23 (NKJV) When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?"And they said, "He is dead." So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, "What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food." And he said, "While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?' But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."

Most of the time we don't know how a situation will end. There is only one thing that we can truly rely on and that is the love and mercy of God. We can pray to God and request of him and stay with that in hopes that God's love and mercy will prevail. However, our prayers should primarily be based on the word of God and his provisions for us and not fantasyland dreams and hopes that are conjured up in our head.

Trust, Foolishness, and Faith

Trust and faith must be founded on evidence in order to operate successfully. Trusting without evidence (blind faith) is foolishness because your trust has no ground on which to stand. Too many times people just believe God. This mentality may lead someone to write faith checks or do other things and assume that God will just come through for them. I can't walk into a car dealership and expect God to miraculously provide the payments after I have purchased the car knowing I can't afford it. That would be foolishness.

Remember always that true trust or faith is founded on evidence or data. I trust God because I have a reason to and not just because. If I need a car then I can expect God to meet my needs. However, that need may be met in a way that you may not expect or like. I remember when I was in college and I prayed to God that I needed a car to get back and forth to work. I attended Drexel University, which had a Cooperative Education program where you went to class for six months and then went to work in the area of your study for six months. God provided me a ride to work and back instead of giving me a car. Of course I could have taken the rail line to work or the bus but that would have significantly undermined my need to save money for my education. God met my needs and I still didn't have a car. I eventually purchased a car when I could afford it.

One may argue that if you really trust God and have true faith in him then you can get anything. That would make God a genie that demands certain favors or rituals in order to reward his subjects or worse masters. God is not a genie and he will do whatever he wants. God is sovereign! I have to agree with him and not He with me. It is therefore extremely important that we realize that faith and trust in God requires that we act according to His way.

Apathy: False Trust

Trust requires action. We said previously that trusting God requires that obedience be practiced. Trusting anyone, including God, requires that we take some sort of action. It is easy to think that if we just sit back and "believe God" that everything will be all right. It is easy to think that apathy is the practice of true faith. Apathy simply means that you are too lazy to do what you are supposed to do and simply expect God to do things for you. The false faith of apathy is really laziness.

Trusting God or anyone requires that we do something. If you want to believe God for a new home then you are going to have to start moving toward your goal. You may begin to save money, eliminate debt, research homes, etc. The point is that you are doing something. Consider the following scriptures.

Psalm 1:2 through Psalm 1:3 (NKJV) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

This verse illustrates that our paths can be blessed. That is, what we decide to do can prosper. Therefore, we have to be doing something and not just sitting around expecting God to pay the bills, mow the lawn, feed the cat, etc. What are you doing about the blessings that you believe God for? If you are doing nothing then your blessings will always be a dream. If you are doing something about it then your blessings will constantly get closer to you until that day when you grasp it and hold on to it as your own.

So don't confuse apathy and laziness with trust. The act of not doing something is not an act of trust. The less you do the more you doubt or else you are simply deceived. The more you do, with the understanding that God is with you and directing you, the more you trust.

Conclusion

We see that the same principles apply to trusting God and trusting others. After all, trust is trust. Trust must be based on evidence so that we have a reason to trust someone, including God. Trusting God requires knowledge of His word and/or and understanding of his mercy. Trusting God also requires obedience to what He said.

We learn to trust people, including God. We trust someone because he or she has demonstrated that he or she can be trusted after coming through for us in the past. The evidence that we need in order to trust God is found in the Holy Scriptures and the experiences that we gather when we obey Him and trust Him.

Inactivity is the opposite of trust. Apathy does not indicate a high level of trust. The act of not doing something only means that you are lazy and that you want to attribute your laziness to God and trust in God. In reality you are either ignorant of God's word and/or too lazy to do anything about your situation.

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