“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” Psalms 118:8 (ESV)
That’s the very center verse of the Bible. God’s Word never ceases to amaze me. Tucked in between the shortest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 117) and the longest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 119) is the chapter with the Bible’s center verse. It just so happens that there are 1188 chapters in the Bible and strangely enough, the very center verse is Psalm 118:8. Do you see the numerical connection? Look at the numbers again – 1188 chapters – Psalm 118:8 is the center verse of the whole Bible. The center verse means that there is the same number of verses on both sides (from Genesis 1:1 up to Psalm 118:7 and then from Psalm 118:9 to Revelation 22:21). Don’t you figure that the very central verse of the Bible has a message that would be pretty important? For sure!
It’s all about TRUST! Did you know that God commands us to love everybody? Even our enemies? Yes! It seems that concept is well established in the human heart. Scripture is replete with commandments to “love one another.” BUT. . . did you know that NO WHERE in scripture does God ever command me to TRUST anyone except Him? Everyone is familiar with this one – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV) I’m commanded to TRUST God and Him alone. But what about my other relationships? I’m commanded to love them regardless, but trust must be earned.
Love and trust is NOT the same thing. The child on the playground understands this; the unregenerate sinner grasps the concept, but well-meaning, God-loving, yet misinformed church folk somehow make the mistake of thinking they are the same. They are fundamentally different ideas and concepts both etymologically and theologically. The words don’t mean the same thing because they are NOT the same thing. Somebody said recently to me, “if you love me, you’ll trust me.” Though that “sounds good,” nothing is further from the truth. I will love you all day long, but you’ll have to earn my trust, especially if you’ve done something to lose it.
Over my 25 years experience in ministry, I have regularly counseled couples that have had marriage problems. I wish I could say that I was able to help them all get back together. One thing I have seen over and over again – couples that still LOVE EACH OTHER break up all the time. They’re not separating because of the absence of love, but because of the loss of trust. You might say, well, what about forgiveness? I’ll be the first to say, we’re supposed to forgive. That word means to “loose” or to “release.” When I forgive someone, I release him from the debt he has incurred due to an offense that his actions have inflicted upon me. Forgiveness can come immediately. I make that choice in my own heart. However, restoration of trust takes time. If I find that a friend hasn’t been truthful with me, then though I still love that friend, it’s going to take time to restore my trust in that friend’s word. This is why scripture repeatedly says it’s important when bestowing responsibilities of leadership upon people in the local church or in government that they must be “trustworthy” people. Worthy of trust means previous actions have indicated an ability to rely on that person’s word/reputation. We see this happen in civil government all the time. Someone once trusted loses credibility because of wrong decisions and actions. Her constituents may still love her – whether she gets re-elected depends on her ability to regain the trust of the people.
This is obvious! I loved my son with all my heart when he was 4 years old, but I didn’t TRUST him with the knife to carve the Thanksgiving turkey. He’s now 22. Handling a sharp knife isn’t a matter of DISTRUST any longer. My love for him at 4 was never in question. There were numerous things I didn’t trust him with. My 15 yo daughter is gaining my trust in driving my car. She’s showing responsibility. In a few months, I will demonstrate my trust and hand her the keys – my love for her has never changed, but my trust level certainly has. Folks this is elementary. That’s why we must understand that ultimately God’s Kingdom is not built on love – it’s built on TRUST!
We can trust God. His Word is true! The questions are “Can God trust us?” “Can we trust each other?” Yes, it just takes a little time to build it.