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Chapter 1 - The Essential Nature of Trust
Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! - Mark 10:24b
It is difficult to go through life and trust in no one or nothing. We trust that our employer will pay us. We trust that we will not be murdered in our sleep, We trust the bridge we drive over will not collapse. We can even trust that a friend wonít pull a chair out from under us as we sit down as a joke. We come into this life in complete dependence and vulnerability. Sometimes we have parents who nurture, love, and care for us which can make trusting easy. Sometimes we have parents that make trusting difficult. We can grow to be too confident and trusting of the world around us or not trusting enough.
As we grow and come to hear of Jesus and his love for us, we may come to trust in him.
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; - Hebrews 6:19
In contrast, those who do not have this trust (faith) are vulnerable to the vicissitudes of circumstance. People can come to trust in governments, employers, friends, wealth, or even social position only to find that things change and trust has been betrayed.
The most significant change we face is when this life ends. Many people live life as if it would go on forever. Adolescents are often described as living as if they thought they were immortal. Those who see nothing beyond this life and who do not trust in God are left trying to obtain what they can from the world and its systems.
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: - Ephesians 2:12
More than just the assurance of eternal life in heaven, the Christianís present life can benefit from a foundation for trust that is solid and reliable. Having this 'solid rock' in which to trust allows the Christian to avoid the many deceptions in the world and especially those associated with riches and their pursuit.
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. - Psalm 18:2
Sadly, many Christians live lives of crippled trust. They are unable to fully let go of the faith they have in what the world can provide, particularly money. This creates a sort of perpetual anxiety.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. - James 1:8
The Christian with crippled faith is unable to put his full trust in God. This is usually because the world seems so able to provide what he desires.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. - 1 John 2:16
It is difficult for someone to try to 'straddle the fence' with a foot in the realm of God and a foot in the realm of the world. Either he will exist on the fringe of the world with God at the center, or on the fringe of God with the world at the center.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. - James 4:4
This dichotomy can be seen with money as it so much represents the lifeblood of the world.
No servant is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches, or anything in which you trust and on which you rely). - Luke 16:13 AMP
One can be anxious or fearful and seek security from the things of the world. One can also be predatory or greedy and seek opportunity from the things of the world. We can see in other worldly dynamics patterns that parallel and are entwined with the influence of money. For example, oneís friends and associates can be seen as a way to achieve security or advantage. A person can seek to build relationships with others with a view towards gain just as readily as they might seek money.
Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. - Luke 16:3-4
Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour. - Proverbs 19:4
While the manipulation of social networks for advantage has a long historical record, at a more basic level throughout history advantage has often been sought through the use of force. Today this option is mostly employed by governments and criminals.
But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. - Luke 11:22
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. - Psalm 20:7
We can often see in the use of force, the seeking of relationships, and the general use of wealth a reflection of the powerful motives of both fear and greed. These forces of the flesh are what drive most of the activity of the world. Since these forces arise from the flesh and seek to serve self, they often bring one into conflict with others. This creates uncertainty which undermines hope and trust.
He who is of a greedy spirit stirs up strife, but he who puts his trust in the Lord shall be enriched and blessed. - Proverbs 28:25 AMP
Throughout the ages, the main thing people trusted in was wealth. People are not very reliable and the use of force seldom achieves its objectives without creating other problems or lasts long. Money, property, or other resources can seem to offer a more certain future. However, even riches may not be as certain as one might hope.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; - 1 Timothy 6:17
We can see here two of the problems with riches. First they corrupt our thinking so that we begin to see ourselves in inflated terms (highminded). Secondly, even riches are ultimately 'uncertain'. Regardless of whether we are driven by fear or greed, our trust in wealth leads first to the pursuit of it, and even if successful, the toxic effect of it in our lives.
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. - Proverbs 30:8-9
Paul writes that the purpose of the law given to Israel was not to show how they could keep it, but to show how they could not. It was to be a constant reminder of their need to depend on God. In a similar way, the curse of hard work given to Adam and Eve was to motivate them to recognize how much they needed God. Instead, we use riches to convince ourselves we have no need of anything or anyone. One of the many deceitful aspects of riches is how we come to be so short sighted and we have such confidence in the short term that we become blind to the eternal.
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? - Luke 12:18-20
In th example of the prodigal son we see someone whose view and value of the things of life has been reduced to money. Consider how the father felt when his son asked for the money he felt he deserved so that he could chart his own course in the world. Only a parent who has raised a child can imagine the pain and hurt such selfish ingratitude causes. It is similar to the pain we cause God when we act the same way towards him.
And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. - Luke 15:12
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child! - Shakespeare
What can make riches so deceitful is that they can seem so necessary. Consider the example of the widow who lost her son. In a world where, without the support of that son, she would face the rest of her life as a beggar.
Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: . - Luke 7:12a
We can also come to see our prosperity as so vital to life and that upon which we depend, that we fight hard to prevent any loss. We may find that we will stoop to any act, surrender any values, or even hurt others to insure that the wealth we see as essential is not threatened or diminished. The intensity with which we can come to cling to riches is reflected a little in contrast to what Jesus willingly set aside.
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: - Philippians 2:6
Here the word 'robbery' does not capture the fuller meaning from the Greek, 'goods obtained through theft and held with an intensity greater than that with which the original owner held them'. Here the picture is that Jesus held greater riches than that of the whole world, but was not so enthralled by them that he was reluctant to set them aside.
The person who clings to his riches shows his greater trust in them or even himself and a proportionally lesser trust in God. In contrast, there are people who come to a point of considering suicide. They have often found attachment to life and the things of this world to be ultimately insufficiently worthy of trust. While suicide is often driven by pain, despondency, and disconnection, it does illustrate some of the superficial and insubstantial qualities of the world and their inability to ultimately provide fulfillment.
And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: - Acts 14:15
The vanities of the world to which the rich cling and the suicidal find inadequate are deceitful in that they are often taken to be the sum of all existence. In contrast we are called to turn from the illusions of the world to the reality of God, the eternal life he offers in Jesus, and the path of wisdom and truth.
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. - John 12:25
Old age and failing health are often the only way we have of being motivated to consider that this world may not hold everything we need. Not only is this world passing away, but so are we.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot
The deceptiveness of riches is really a reflection of how we come to deceive ourselves. We place more value on the things which can provide ease, comfort, and pleasure, than we do on things of eternal value. Wealth both in prospect and in substance blinds us to the reality of a fallen world lost in sin and in desperate need of a Savior.
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