Have you ever thought about just how powerful trust is? If we trust someone, we will —
1. Want to be like them.
2. Believe what they tell us about others.
3. Believe what they tell us about the world.
For example, think about someone you really trust and admire. If they told you something about someone, would you believe them? I had the “privilege” of hearing two sides of a personal confrontation a few months ago. Each side had their own personal interpretation on what had happened and were influencing people’s opinions of the other person by the tale they were telling to the people who trust them.
Or let’s think about our kids for a moment. We have such power to influence positively or negatively because of trust. If, as Christian parents, we love them enough to set boundaries, have the hard discussions, and live out our faith, we will build the trust that will make it so much easier for our children to follow the Lord. But if we are self-absorbed hypocrites, well, then there is little trust and our kids will probably walk away from the Lord.
How about pastors and teachers that we trust? If they tell us the entire world was created from a rock, we will give them credence, because we trust them to tell us the truth. Or perhaps they interpret a certain passage of scripture differently then we have ever heard– if we trust them, we will believe them. Or political leaders? If they tell us they will put more money in our pockets by lowering taxes, then we will…well, I guess that’s not such a good example, is it? Not a whole lot of trust when it comes to the government anymore.
My point is this: the more that others trust us, the more responsibility we have to honor that trust. We do this by —
1. Being extremely careful with our words. Words are so powerful, and even more so if people are actually listening to our words. The more people that listen, the more powerful our words become. I don’t want someone to form an opinion about someone else based on my experience with that person. Just because I didn’t have a good encounter with a particular person, doesn’t mean that everyone else won’t. And judging people on one encounter is never a good idea, anyway. It’s better to just keep our mouths shut about others. And if we are just natural “venters” then we should at least counter our words with something like this: “but I know I probably didn’t handle it right, too” or some other such phrase. (I would add here that I am talking about personal relationships and not about warnings regarding false teachers, which is something we are called to do in scripture Acts 20:29-32).
If people trust us, our words also can be used to sway them towards God or away from God. We can set a good example by speaking words of truth and faith and love and kindness or we can pull them away from God by our complaining and skeptical words.
2. Being extremely careful with whom we respect and trust as Christian leaders and pastors. If people trust us, then we want to make sure that we are being very careful with where we place our own trust so that we are directing them to godly men and women who know and follow the traditional interpretation of the Word of God (2 Thessalonians 2:15). I look for men and women who are humble and holy (Titus 1:5-9) and for one who has not fallen into heresy or capitulated to worldly compromise (James 1:27) Unfortunately, my list of respected Christian leaders grows smaller almost every day. I try to be very careful with the links (listed to the right) I recommend because of this. I don’t want to be responsible for directing anyone astray. In fact, last year, there was a link listed there of a ministry I did trust but when I became aware of some heresy in that ministry, I immediately removed it. Sometimes we don’t know about a certain ministry, but when we do find out, we need to carefully withdraw our support of that ministry.
3. Being extremely careful with our actions. Oh, this is a tricky one and I often feel the weight of it. You see, I know my kids (and probably others) are watching me to see what I am watching, reading, listening to, and wearing. If I make a choice to do or wear something that is on the line, then I will, in essence, be giving my approval of that thing. Even if, afterwards, I recognize that it was not a good decision the damage will have been done. Occasionally, I will watch a movie that may be questionable by myself first before allowing my kids to watch it but, more often than not, I just don’t watch it. In fact, the older I have gotten the more I lean towards just not wasting my time on something that includes things that offend my God. Life is just too short for that and the trust issue too great. I still do mess up sometimes, though, on this one.
Our actions, of course, also include things like flaring up in anger or gossiping to our friends or lying to our boss. People, and especially our kids, are watching us all the time. It is critical to do the right thing not only to please the Lord (which is the primary reason) but also because of the observant eyes of the ones who are looking to us as an example.
Trust is a mighty thing. If we have it, we need to be very careful with it. It can be lost in a moment by doing something stupid. And there is a constant struggle going on inside with the perpetual question: “Do I want my kids (or anyone else who trusts me) to be like me?” If I am honest, my answer is always no. I have such a long way to go in my walk with God. But I keep trying, knowing that people are watching and that I have a responsibility to be the most godly person I can be based on what I have learned about God and His Word so far.