Should We Place Our Trust In Any Other?

Glen Head

     What is trust to you? A belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.? We all have been hurt at one time or another by the usage of this word. Whether we broke a trust between a loved one or a trust has been broken against us in a relationship, we have probably been on both sides of this issue. Trust is hard to build back up in an individual if not impossible once it has been broken. Many times we use this word against our children in hopes of building their integrity. Yet at some point in the future it is guaranteed they will break our trust. Are we building for failure in this area? Or is our teaching not strong enough on this issue? I guess the sad and disappointing question is – who can be trusted? I read something concerning trust the other day: “A reliable enemy can be preferable to an unpredictable friend, as at least we know where we are with them (the enemy).”

The Bible makes it perfectly clear in whom we should trust (or take refuge in), and whom we shouldn’t. Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” There are three words that are of close relation in scripture: trust, confidence and assurance, with trust taking the lead action in commitment and dedication. When we trust, we have full confidence (a notch lower in responsibility than “trust” because of a possible sudden or hasty decision) in the one which it is placed. When we trust we have full assurance (guarantee) in the one in which it is placed.

In view of being logical and predictable concerning trust, even though some may disagree, here is how the world makes sense of the word trust:

  1. Predictability – It is a normal part of the human condition to be constantly forecasting. Trust in this area means being able to predict what other people will do and what situations will occur. If we can surround ourselves with people we trust, then we can create a safe present, and an even better future. (We predict that Christians will live according to the Gospel.)
  2. Value exchange – Most of what we do with other people is based around exchange, which is the basis for all businesses as well as individual relationships. Trust means making an exchange with someone when you do not have full knowledge about them, their intent, or the things they are offering to you. (In relation to word and deed, a Christian should be honest in those things.)
  3. Delayed reciprocity – Exchange is not just about an immediate swapping of cows and sheep, or hugs and kisses. What makes companies and societies really work is that something is given now, but the return is paid back some time in the future. Trust means giving something now with an expectation that it will be repaid, possibly in some unspecified way, at some unspecified time in the future. (Christianity is about doing for others and not seeking a reward OR living in Christ for one’s life, then upon death receiving eternal life.)
  4. Exposed vulnerabilities – When we trust other people, we may not only be giving them something in hope of getting something else back in the future, we may also be exposing ourselves in a way that they can take advantage of our vulnerabilities. Trust means enabling other people to take advantage of your vulnerabilities—but expecting that they will not do this. (As Christians our vulnerabilities shouldn’t be gossiped about.)

     Trust is both an emotional and logical act. Emotionally, it is where you expose your vulnerabilities to people, but believe they will not take advantage of your openness. Logically, it is where you have assessed the probabilities of gain and loss, calculating expected usefulness based on hard performance data, and concluded that the person in question will behave in a predictable manner.  In practice, trust is a bit of both. I trust you because I have experienced your trustworthiness and because I have faith in human nature (habit/practice). We feel trust. Emotions associated with trust include companionship, friendship, love, agreement, relaxation, comfort.

As mentioned earlier God is very specific in His Word that we should trust in Him. God is also very specific in what we should not trust in, such as riches, self, or man. There are many things that God is and man just isn’t.

There are many passages in the New Testament that use the word trust. Matt. 12:21, Rom. 15:12, 2 Cor. 1:10,3:4, Phil. 2:19, 2:24, 1 Tim. 4:10, Heb. 2:13. In all these, trust is being put in our God. There are no passages whatsoever that mention putting that same trust in man. As a matter of fact the Bible speaks the opposite. Do not put trust in man! Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. Jeremiah 17:5-6 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.                     

     BUT – Jeremiah 17:7-10  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.