Publication: Pastoral Letter, June 2012
Dear Friend in Christ,
The most vital issue for us is where will we place our trust? Trust is confident assurance that the object of our confidence will perform as expected … will always do the right thing. It is believing that our confidence will not be violated by someone behaving in an unprincipled manner, by breaking their word, or acting opportunistically at our expense. This kind of trust is essential to social and business transactions, to our prosperity, and overall security.
The problem of misplaced trust is as old as humanity, when the serpent beguiled Eve, and Adam went along, removing their trust from the Word of God to a lie that brought death. They were beguiled by the notion that they would “advance” in the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but it came at the expense of life. False promises are those that do not pan out, and that one certainly did not!
The Bible is about Who we should and who we should not trust. In short, we should trust God. There are a host of things that we should not trust: our own righteousness, wealth, foreign powers, false prophets, lying words, our own strength, fame, evil doers, mobs, unproven personalities, pride, dumb ideas, and what appears to be real but is not.
A “con man” is someone who knows how to use your “self-interest” to serve his own self-interest by giving a false promise. A “con man” is a “confidence man” who gains your confidence by ulterior motives, who uses guile to better himself at your expense. The naïve are his market (see Proverbs 1). Most of us have been “conned”, probably more than once, either relationally, politically, or economically; then we lose faith. For this reason Jesus asks, “When the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (see Luke 8:18). Daniel’s vision in Daniel chapter 2, raises the same issue when he says, “In the end, they will not adhere to one another” (see verse 43).
This problem destroys trust, relationships, business, and nations. It destroys marriages, children, churches, and cultures. We love our sports, but loss of trust destroys even those. Trust is the social currency; it is what we exchange at the altar, the bank, the office and at every other place of transaction.
Ronald Reagan wisely said, “Trust, but verify.” Should we trust China with trillions of dollars of our wealth? Should we trust the “Arab Spring”? Iran? News media? Economic prognosticators? Our church? These are serious questions that warrant serious thought. Our current economic situation is the direct result of misplaced trust in certain politicians and some leaders on Wall Street. When opportunism overrides principle and morality, prosperity is destroyed!
Why do costs continue to rise in our institutional transactions, such as marriage, business, or the political arena? It is directly due to the decline in morality and trust. When trust goes down, costs go up. Misplaced trust, “opportunism”, and self-interest above the interest of others drive legal issues, pricing, and all kinds of built-in costs. The “lusts of flesh” mitigate against our ability to trust each other If trust is essential to a secure a prosperous society, what must we do? At least we must be very careful where we place our trust.
History should tell us that we cannot trust communism, Nazism, paganism, socialism, or any other “ism”. But sadly, in spite of the record, many still do believe in some Utopian scheme that trusts in mankind. (See USSR, Germany pre-WWII, China, North Korea, and Iran.)
So where does trust come from, where does it begin? Where can we place our trust? If we discover the answer too late, the result will be devastating. Let’s go back to Adam and Eve; they should have trusted God. His Word proved true. But we have a nature problem, prone to trust false promises rather than the Word of God. Here are a few of the many reasons that we should trust God:
- He is our Creator and He knows us. (See Ecclesiastes 12:1; Romans 1:25; 1 Peter 4:19.)
- He is the covenant God who keeps His Word. (See Deuteronomy 7:9.)
- His word comes to pass. (See Matthew 5:17-18.)
- He is the “Author and Finisher of our Faith.” (See Hebrews 12:2.)
- He is our Redeemer when we fail. (See Psalm 103:4.)
- History validates His prophetic Word and His commands. (See Exodus 20:1-7.)
- And most of all, He loves us with an everlasting love. (See Jeremiah 31:3.)
The Lord our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – omniscient and omnipotent. He is no mere theory or concocted scheme. He is both trustworthy and teaches us to be. When we walk in His ways, we are light to a world darkened by moral decline. Why should anyone look elsewhere for a place to deposit their faith? The Lord is our “safety net” when other trusts fail.
So should we trust all Christians or distrust all non- Christians? No. The issue is content, not labels. There are people in every society worthy of trust, as well as those unworthy. I have suffered loss from “Christians” and you probably have as well, and there are some non-Christians that I trust. So, what is the basis for trust?
First of all, I encourage us to be informed, read, listen, observe, check with knowledgeable friends, look at track records and history. I ask a lot of questions, now that I am older. I talk to my pastor, physician, accountant, staff, attorney, and anyone who may know more than I do about the possibility of placing a serious trust. (See 1 Kings 12:8; Proverbs 15:22.)
My car dealer once replaced a defective part after the warranty expired. It would have cost me several hundred dollars. That was over 30 years ago and I have purchased many cars from him for myself, my family, and others ever since. I have not forgotten! He had my welfare at heart. Prior to that experience, I drove a brand of car that had a lot of trouble. The prior dealer didn’t seem concerned. I did not forget that either, nor did others. The company finally went bankrupt. You just could not trust them.
Perhaps our strongest testimony is to earn the trust of others through acting on a consistent, principle-based morality, which points to the Source of trust, the Lord Himself. If we trust the the One who gives us resources, then the spouse who gives us fidelity, the neighbor who aids our security, and the employer who gives us wages can also trust us. Our word will be “as good as gold”.
Back in the 1960s, someone said, “Never trust anyone over 30.” The uncoupling of generations is an old trick of the devil designed to separate us from the wisdom gleaned by age. The consequence of that generational separation has been devastating; not only a loss of wisdom, but it produced naiveté … a setup for the other losses such as history, inheritance, future, faith and even life itself. God’s truth and wisdom is intended to pass from generation to generation, but the generational gap has become a chasm filled with tragedy in too many cases. (See Psalm 78, Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Proverbs 1, Ecclesiastes 12.) Specifically, it is primarily the father’s task to see that truth and trust are passed on. (Where have all the fathers gone?)
I trusted my parents, even if I did not always obey (and did not). But I knew that they truly loved me and lived the life that they taught. They had a good track record. My sister and brother and I benefitted from godly parents, their example, and their discipline. But unfortunately, that is not always the case. Too many children are abused by neglect and betrayal, then come to mistrust all authority. Their trust vacuum is filled by friends of like mind or celebrity personalities whose own lives are shipwrecks. Our prisons are overflowing with proof of this assessment.
What Must We Do?
This is a very biblical question, and the answer is found in Acts 2:37-42. The answer is to repent and believe Jesus. The Holy Spirit drew 3000 people that day into a fellowship of trust. Those who believed in the recently crucified Christ were laying down their own self-centeredness and misplaced trust. They entered into the New Covenant in the body and blood of Christ. Their fellowship in Christ and with one another was so attractional that thousands more soon entered. Peter’s admonition, “Save ourselves from this wicked and corrupt generation” was heeded.
The Founders of the United States understood that our Republic would not function without a moral citizenry. Churches actually met in the U.S. Capitol. Days of fasting and prayer were called for by our presidents because they understood that. For us to regain the influence of faith and morality, we most move away from opportunism among churches and move away a “market driven message” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our trust must be in Him and His message – “Take up your cross and follow Me” (see Matthew 16:24-27). It is not about saving our lives; it is about losing our lives in Christ. If we trust Him more, others will trust us more and good results will follow.
Given that trust is the currency of all social interaction, who but us will proclaim the foundation of trust? We should not take a “back seat” to anyone in building foundations of culture, starting with ourselves, our families and communities.
Because we should be primary purveyors of trust, we have a great opportunity in this culture to declare the Source of trust_the Lord our God. There is a vast market of those who have experienced misplaced trust that await the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
P.S. Please continue to remember us this month in your prayers and in your financial support. I have been traveling a good bit in ministry and look forward to sharing some wonderful testimonies with you soon. Visit us online at www.csmpublishing.org for more information.
Scripture Reference: Proverbs, Luke, Daniel, Ecclesiastes, Romans, 1 Peter, Deuteronomy, Matthew, Hebrews, Psalms, Exodus, Jeremiah, 1 Kings, Acts