The paradox of trustworthiness
It has been said that without trust there is nothing. I well remember my father saying to me when I first got my driver’s licence that he wasn’t worried about my driving, it was the driver coming towards me on the other side of the road he worried about.
He was giving me a compliment, of course, yet highlighted the reality that every time we drive we place a lot of trust in the total stranger behind the wheel of the oncoming car. Sadly, for my sister-in-law, that trust was betrayed in 2009 when an oncoming vehicle moved onto the wrong side of the road. She ended up in hospital, fortunate to be alive.
Here is a video of the crash site. It was devastating.
Trust is Foundational
When you think about it, trust is foundational to the way the world works. We trust our doctors, our nurses, hospitals, administrators, and sophisticated testing machines to deliver safe medical procedures. Marriage is built on trust, it’s in the vows. Families too are built on trust, as well as sports teams, schools and kindergartens. To say that ‘without trust there is nothing’ is indeed true.
Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, many suggest at the heart of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was the collapse of trust. Many expressed moral outrage at the behaviour of leaders in both banking and business. Words like “greed” and “selfishness” are still used as the fallout continues to linger in many parts of the world. And Governments ploughed billions of tax dollars into financial institutions in an endeavour to restore that trust.
Trust is Multifaceted
But what is trust? It has many facets. For example, credibility is associated with trust and is often concerned with the quality of words spoken. Trust is also about reliability and the integrity of our actions. Intimacy is linked to trust and feelings of safety and security with others.
Trust and trustworthiness go hand in hand.
But ultimately, trust is about relationships and whether or not we believe another has our interests at heart rather than their own. It is about being trustworthy. And here trust is profound. For not only is trust about trusting another, but it asks whether you are worthy of their trust in you. Trust and trustworthiness go hand in hand. Both are essential ingredients in any relationship. We not only trust the other, but we need to be worthy of their trust and vice versa.
It’s the same as our relationship with God. He is trustworthy and so we put our trust in him. This is the heart of the gospel. We trust that God loves us and has our best interests at heart, and he sent his son to re-establish a lasting relationship with us. We trust that he has done all the work and so accept his work on our behalf. We trust God because he is trustworthy.
God trusts me?
But, like any relationship we can ask the questions, “Can God trust me? Am I trustworthy?”
The Bible is full of examples of people in whom God trusted. Consider Mary the mother of Jesus. As a young woman she is selected by God for the privileged task of birthing Jesus. But what was it about Mary that caused God to choose her? We know nothing about her appearance—her hair, her stature, her shape, the texture of her skin or even the attractiveness of her personality. Yet she was “highly favoured” and “blessed . . . among women” (Luke 1:28).
I wonder if God chose Mary because she was trustworthy. God knew He could trust her with the birth of his son, and to stay with him right until the end.
Then there is Abraham. Have you ever wondered what made him great? The Bible says he trusted God even though he couldn’t have imagined what God had in mind. That’s what made it possible for him to go so far as to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice when God asked it of him (Genesis 22). He even trusted God’s promise to make him into a great nation, and bless all other nations through him even though he never saw it (Genesis 12).
The trust Abraham displayed was enough for God to establish a special relationship with him (and it was credited to him as righteousness).
Can I be trusted?
Just like Mary and Abraham, God calls each one of us to be part of his ongoing plans to save the world. You and I have been given gifts, opportunities and talents. How have we used them? Have we proved trustworthy? Here we strike the heart of trust and trustworthiness. And lurking in the heart is a paradox.
Like Mary and Abraham, God often calls us to be involved in things we could never do by ourselves. He asks us to be involved in the impossible (giving birth to the Son of God) and the incompressible (making one man into a great nation).
When God calls us to do something, often we don’t feel big enough, or strong enough, or experienced enough, or skilful enough, or ____? You can add your own excuse.
Yet when God calls, he knows our circumstances and knows what we can and can’t do and what we can achieve only with his help. So God promises to be with us and to help us.
When he calls us to a task, his concern is not whether we can do the task or not, but whether we are willing to trust him to bring it about. It is not a matter of whether we have the skills, experience, or strength to do it. It is matter of whether we are willing to trust.
This is the paradox of Christian trustworthiness. It is not a question of whether we are able to do the task, but whether we are willing to believe God can be trusted to work in and through us.
It is not a question of whether or not we are able
In the final analysis, the question, “Can God trust you?” turns around and emerges as a new question, “Do I trust God?”
The stories of Mary and Abraham help us appreciate this critical point. They were trustworthy not because of their ability to do the task but because they trusted God to do it through them. It was in their trust in God that he would make it happened that they showed they were trustworthy.
We live in unsettled times and our churches are facing great challenges. God still calls us to be his witnesses and to be salt and light in our community. Such a task is by nature beyond us and we lack the resources to achieve it. Yet, we need to remind ourselves that we have one in whom we can put our total trust. God is worthy of our trust. He will achieve his purposes through us if we are willing to trust that he can do his work through us.
Like Job of old we can declare, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Or like David we can cry out, I will “trust in Him at all times” (Psalms 6:8) or with Solomon say, “trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5). The Bible encourages us to trust God, for in doing so demonstrate we are trustworthy.
This has been the experience of God’s people throughout history, and like them we too face the question, “Will we trust God to do through us what is seemingly impossible?”
Mother Teresa was such a person who God trusted. She once remarked, “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” I wonder if you could say they same.
I’d love to know . . . Do you think you are trustworthy?
Stephen L Baxter