Sunday, October 23, 2022

Trust and the Nitty Gritty

When I receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, I begin a life of trust. And the faith that begins when I believe on him is a faith that God intends to continue.

But there is great enemy of our faith. The apostle Paul, speaking about this enemy of our faith, Satan, says, “We are not ignorant of his designs.”

How can he say that, when Satan is a powerful spirit whom none of us has ever seen? How can he say we are not ignorant of his designs?

The Serpent’s Methods

Well, Satan’s methods are just the same today as they were in Genesis 3:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” ’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”

Can a man or a woman trust God? That sounds almost like a blasphemous question when you think of who God is. Can a man or a woman trust God? It is a blasphemous question! But it’s one that we face every day: Can I trust God? Not only for my salvation, but can I trust God to lead me through today? Are God’s word and his promises reliable? We answer that question “Can God be trusted?” every day we live. We answer it not necessarily in words, but in the things that we do or don’t do, we show that we are trusting or not trusting God. We bear witness to other people to the fact that God can either be trusted, or he can’t be trusted. That is a very powerful testimony.

But by what many Christian men and women do and don’t do, I’ve come to the conclusion that God can’t be trusted. 

The Well-Padded Christian

Let me give you an example. The Bible says that instead of fretting about where the next meal will come from, or how I’ll be able to clothe my family, I ought to make my priority the kingdom of God. “What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?” The Bible says all these things will be added to me if I make doing the will of God my priority.

Now, that doesn’t mean becoming a minister, or a professional, or a preacher of any kind. What it means is that my life is spent in asking, “Is this the will of God for me? Is this the way God would have me spend my money?” That’s the Christian life, isn’t it. That’s a life spent in seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. The Lord Jesus promised that if I will do that, these other things after which the world around us is seeking and wanting security in them, these things will be added unto you.

But everywhere I look, it seems, I see men and women seduced into making decisions because of material gain, and this at the expense of the kingdom of God. Under the plea of making themselves more secure, or more happy perhaps, they make choices which will give them less time and less energy for the things that are supposed to matter most. But they do it in order to look after their security, to make sure that in a day to come when things get bad, I’ll be well padded, and if I have to fall, I won’t get bruised because I’ve got a lot of protection here. This is the way we think: the kingdom of God, even to many Christians, is not of prime importance. God cannot be trusted to look after my material needs.

You say, “I never expected to hear a preacher make a statement like that. I heard him say that God cannot be trusted to supply my material needs!” But isn’t that what many of us are saying week by week, day after day: “I cannot trust God to look after my material needs if I put his interests first”?

The Unequal Yoke

Let me give you another example. The Bible says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” That means that as a Christian I should not knowingly marry someone who has not received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. If that person is not sure or not clear, I would have to wait until that person was clear; until I was convinced that they really understood what it is to be a Christian.

Well, you say, “How can you judge whether a person is a Christian or not? Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘Judge not, lest you be judged’?” Yes, it does, but it’s not talking about that. Because the Bible says elsewhere that when a widow is thinking of getting married again, she is free to be married to whom she will “only”, it says, “in the Lord”. So it’s possible to discern Christians from unbelievers. We are expected to.

But someone might say, “Oh, but our church is small. There’s no one my age or eligible. There are other churches in the area. I think I’ll switch to one of those.”

Now, you notice that person is making their decision not in the light of the will of God, but in the light of their needs as they see them. They’re not asking “Would it be God’s will for me to make this move?” They’re saying, “This would be an astute way for me to look after my needs.” A person might think like that.

Another Step Down

A little later on, another compromise might offer itself to such a person, because if you take one step down, very easily you can take another one. In this new church that the person has joined is Charlie. Now, some think Charlie is not a Christian, but who are they to judge? “He behaves as well or better than some people I know to be Christians.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that one. What a rationalization for marrying somebody who’s not Christian: “He’s as good or better than some of the Christians I know.” Then, says the person, “Well, look at John and Cynthia. John got saved three years after they were married. After all, one has to look after one’s own interests to be practical. I mean, doesn’t the Bible somewhere say, ‘God helps those who help themselves’?” (It doesn’t, but a lot of people think it does.)

What we’re saying is that God cannot be trusted to look after my emotional needs, and so I have to deviate from what God has said and what God wants me to do in order to meet those needs. In my unbelief, in my lack of confidence in God as he really is — the most glorious Person in the universe, the most powerful Person in the universe, the wisest Person in the universe, the most loving Person in the universe — I send the message that I don’t really know him. I have no working confidence in such a God. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of living in this world, I don’t believe that God is that way. So I have to make choices which are really for the best for me, because if I just leave it to God, he’s not going to look after me. After all, he’s up there in heaven. He doesn’t really pay attention to me, does he?

We wouldn’t say those things out loud, but that’s what we’re really saying, are we not?

— Colin Anderson, excerpted from “Trusting God”, circa 1986

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