Can We Trust Anyone? (Article 19-11)
At times, I find trusting people to be a taxing and emotionally trying endeavor. I often give people the benefit of the doubt and believe their intentions are true to their word or expressed intent. Far too often, though, I find myself at the "short end of the stick." Can we really trust people? After all, trust is at the foundation of every meaningful relationship, is it not? Should we not be able to trust our husband or wife? Should we not trust our mother or father? How about our siblings? Can we trust our spiritual leaders and mentors? In short, if we cannot trust, then is having a fulfilling relationship with another even achievable?
What Scripture Tells Us About Trusting Others. First, let me begin by saying that as Christians, believers in Christ, we should all strive to be trustworthy. However, being trustworthy has little to do with our desire to be trustworthy and everything to do with our prideful nature. Our faith warns us of our prideful nature and willingness to please our flesh, and with it, our propensity to engage life in a manner to get what we want for ourselves. Scripture points out that every intent of the thoughts of his (man's) heart is continually evil. (Genesis 6:5). Scripture also states that "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it"? (Jeremiah 17:9). In Micah 7:5, scripture tells us, "Put no trust in a neighbor, have no confidence in a friend, guard the doors of your mouth her who lies in your arms (or bosom)." As such, it should be of no surprise that our call as believers and Christ's Disciples is not to put our trust in any man, not even trust in ourselves. So, what are we to do? If trust is the foundation of meaningful relationships and we are to not trust anyone, does this mean we should abandon efforts to have a meaningful relationship? Of course not, for to do so runs contrary to God's will. He calls us to be "Brothers and Sisters". So, what is the deal here?
First Step – Trust God. The Bible advises about trusting others after we've been hurt. Trusting God is the first, most important step. When we know that, no matter what men do to us, God will always be there, faithful and true and trustworthy, it is easier to handle betrayal or disappointments. Psalm 118:6 says, "The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do to me?" Reading God's Word with attention to the ways He describes His own faithfulness and trustworthiness will be helpful to us. We learn by reading the Psalms of King David too that faithfulness and prayer is vital to trusting – first in God – then in man. If we feel like God has betrayed our trust by allowing us to be hurt, we need to be reminded of His truth and be comforted by His demonstrated love and mercy. This one point was center of the Christ's Ministry – Our Heavenly Father's love and mercy (grace) for us and the fact He desires for us to be His own again - just as it was in the time of our divine parents (Adam and Eve) before their following away from God.
Second Step - Forgive. The second step after being hurt by trusting others is forgiveness. As Jesus told Peter, if a brother sins against you seventy-seven times a day and comes back, asking for forgiveness, we should forgive (Matthew 18:21–22). The point is not that we should forgive the 77 offenses, but that we should be people who seek to forgive continually. If a person repeatedly betrays our trust unrepentantly (without conveying a change in thinking, thus ways, actions, and behavior), we should not continue to associate with the person or to make ourselves vulnerable to that person. Yet we also should not harbor bitterness or allow that person's actions to impede our relationships with other people (Hebrews 12:14–15). If the person is genuinely repentant—even when it involves betrayal and exploited trust—we are to forgive fully and also pursue restoration and a rebuilding of trust over time. As part of Jesus' lesson on forgiveness, He told the parable of a servant who was forgiven an enormous debt and then went out and immediately became judgmental and cruel with another servant who owed him a small debt. The heartless actions of the unmerciful servant should remind us of our need to forgive. We have been forgiven by God a much higher debt than anything other people owe to us (Matthew 18:23–35).
The Final Step – Strive to be Trustworthy. Finally, we can only find trustworthiness in others by first being trustworthy. We cannot expect from others what we are not willing to be or deliver. As Christians, we must be known for our honesty and trustworthiness. It is by our example, and a person's experience with our trustworthiness, is there hope that they too will become more trusting. In saying this, our trustworthiness can only be possible by abiding (dwelling) in Christ. We do not have the power to become trustworthy by our own efforts. If we try to do so, we will fail and when we do, much damage can be done. It is only by way of receiving Christ's Spirit can we ever hope to be good and trustworthy.
We all go through hard times, and we need our friendships, especially when the sun seems to be dim in our lives. At times, we all let others down by not trusting them or responding to their cares and needs. But we should always strive to walk in a manner worthy of being a Christian – a walk of humility and meekness – gentle and patient to the touch. This is the path Christ leads us, all motivated by His trust and love in our Heavenly Father