From 1957 to 1963, a game show called Who Do You Trust? aired on ABC. Hosted by Johnny Carson and emceed by Ed McMahon until they left for The Tonight Show, this game was produced live at The Little Theater on 44th Street in New York City. In the game, three couples competed against each other in a quiz. Johnny Carson would give the male contestant of the couple the category of the question that would be asked and the man would then have to make a decision. Would he answer the question on his own, trusting in his ability to answer it, or would he trust the woman to answer it.
In life, when faced with decisions or difficulties, we have a similar choice to make. We can choose to trust in man, to trust in ourselves, or we can choose to trust in God. God’s Word tells us that when we trust in man, when we trust in our own strength, we are cursed and our hearts are turned from God (Jeremiah 17:5). When we trust in our own strength, we are like a shrub that grows in the desert, withering away in the wilderness (Jeremiah 17:6). On the other hand, when we choose to trust in God, we are blessed (Jeremiah 17:7).
Trusting in God rather than in ourselves makes us like a tree that is planted by a river or stream. As the tree becomes rooted in the life-giving water of the river or stream, we become rooted in God and receive His living water. A tree planted by water does not need to fear when the heat comes. Its leaves will remain green, it will be free from drought, and will continue to bear fruit. When we are rooted in God, we do not need to fear the heat of life’s troubles. The droughts of life will not touch us and we will continue to prosper and bear fruit in our lives (Jeremiah 17:8).
The question is, “Who do you trust?” The choice is ours to make, trust in man, in ourselves, or trust in God. From where I stand, the choice is easy.
Of all of the vegan dishes that I make, one of my wife’s favorites is a pesto dish that I lovingly named Pasta alla Linda. When my wife’s office was having a pot luck lunch, she asked me to make it for her to bring. The dish was a hit and people complimented my wife on it. Now, she could have thanked them and just let them think that she had made it, but instead, she told them that I had made it. She decided that she should give credit where credit was due.
Probably the most well-known song by 1960’s girl group, The Shangri-Las, was “Leader of the Pack.” One of many teenage tragedy songs, it told the story of a teenage girl who was dating a motorcycle riding boy named Jimmy. In the song, the young girl tells how her parents made her break up with Jimmy because he was not good enough. He came from the “wrong side of town” and was, in their opinion, “bad.”
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there are several incidents where the scribes and Pharisees grumbled about the fact that Jesus not only associated with tax collectors and sinners, but He also dined with them. In the eyes of these Jewish leaders, these people were not the type of people that Jesus should be spending time with. Like the “leader of the pack,” these sinners and tax collectors were from the wrong side of town.
Twice in Luke’s Gospel, the Pharisees confront Jesus about His association with these unrighteous outcasts. In the first instance, when they asked Jesus why He was associating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus responded by telling them that it is not the healthy person who needs a doctor, but rather the sick person. Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was not to call those who were righteous to repentance, but those who were sinners (Luke 5:30-31). Jesus came to save the lost and to bring them back into relationship with God.
In the second instance, when asked the same question, Jesus responded with a series of three parables illustrating the value of the lost in the eyes of God and heaven. The first parable spoke of the shepherd who, having lost one of his one hundred sheep, left the ninety-nine who were not lost to find that one lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7). The second parable spoke of a woman who had ten coins and, when one was missing, basically turned her house upside down in order to find that one lost coin (Luke 15:8-10).
The third parable, of course, was that of the prodigal son, who requested that his father give him his share of the inheritance, which he promptly squandered away. When that son, who now had nothing, returned to ask his father’s forgiveness and mercy, the father rejoiced and threw a party. His lost son was so valuable to him that, now that he was once again found, the father wanted to celebrate in the biggest way possible (Luke 15:11-24).
These stories illustrate how God feels about all of us. When we were lost in our sin, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us. He valued and loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son so that, if we believed in Jesus, we could have eternal life with Him. And, when each of us who was lost is found, there is great rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:10).
War is not something that one would call “good.” Lives are lost, countries are destroyed and there’s nothing good about that. But, the Second World War is often referred to as “the good war.” The words “war” and “good” just seem incongruous, don’t they? But, look at what was accomplished as a result of World War II. By the end of the war, the Allied forces had defeated Hitler and the Third Reich and put an end to the atrocities that regime had inflicted. Hitler’s regime was prevented from dominating Europe. So, despite the fact that many lives were lost, there was “good” in World War II.
As believers, we are in a war and, just like the Second World War, it is a good one. This war that we are fighting is the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). In this fight, we must remain faithful to God and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must hold on to our faith even in the face of opposition. That opposition can be from the world or it can be from the spiritual realm, where our enemy is always seeking to destroy us by destroying our faith (1 Peter 5:8).
To fight the good fight of faith when the opposition comes from the world, we need to flee the things of the world and the things of the flesh. We need to pursue such virtues as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). In the face of opposition from the world, these things will help us to keep our eyes and hearts focused on the victory, the prize of eternal life.
To fight the good fight of faith when the opposition is from the spiritual realm, we need to be strong in the Lord and to put on the armor that God has provided. We need to put on the belt of truth, don the breastplate of righteousness, fit our feet with the gospel of peace, and cover our head with the helmet of salvation. We need to take up the shield of faith to protect us from the fiery darts that our enemy throws at us. And, most importantly, we need to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
When we fight the good fight of faith, using the weapons that God has given us, we can be sure that evil will be overcome and our enemy will be defeated, just as it was in “the good war.”
In just a little over a month, my wife and I adopted two greyhounds, Toby and Flo. As I sat looking at these two beautiful dogs yesterday, the word “trust” came to my mind. Although to them we were perfect strangers, they were willing to get into our car and travel home with us to a place they had never been before. Why? For one thing, greyhounds love people. But I believe it’s more than that. I believe that these two dogs believe that they can trust us.
When dogs trust someone, they are putting their confidence in that person. They are relying and depending on that person to be there for them when they need him or her. They trust that person to feed them, to take care of their needs, to guide them, and to give them love. As I reflected on this, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that the trust that my dogs are showing me is an example of the kind of trust we should have in God.
God is trustworthy. This is affirmed throughout Scripture, especially when it comes to His promises to His people. God always comes through on His promises. When we, as believers, have faith in God, we are putting our trust in His person and in His character. It’s important for us to place our trust in God and, when we do, it will find expression in a life that is lived according to His purposes.
When we truly trust in God, we are placing that trust in His unfailing love, rejoicing in the salvation He gives us through His Son, Jesus (Psalm 13:5). When we truly trust in God, we are believing that He will provide for our daily needs (Matthew 6:11) and that He will stand by His promises to us (Romans 4:20-21). And, when we truly trust in God, we do so with all our hearts, knowing that He will always guide us on the right path (Proverbs 3:5-6).
It’s very easy to compartmentalize our lives into things that are sacred and things that are secular. We can easily fall into the trap of considering only certain things in our lives, such as going to church, studying the Bible, and prayer, as sacred things, things that give glory to God. We look at the ordinary things in our lives as secular. The ordinary, secular things can be our jobs, the meals we prepare, the things we build and create. We do these things for ourselves so they can’t be sacred, right? Wrong!
These verses from Isaiah 43:1-2 are one of my favorite passages of Scripture. In these two verses, we can find one of God’s greatest promises to His people – He will be with us in everything that we go through in life. What comfort comes from these words! The God who created you, the God who calls you by name because you are His, promises that not only will He be with you in times of trouble, but your trouble will not overwhelm or consume you.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.