Hidden Nuggets Series #53 – “For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers…whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.” – Titus 1:10-11
“Just five minutes a day and you can have rock solid abs like this. All it takes is three easy payments of $29.99!” blared the infomercial, waking me from my late-night, post-baseball game dozing. I’ve seen this bit before and like a sucker fell for the Ab-Roller (excuse me…I meant the “Ab-make-every-hot-girl-hang-on-you-roller”) years ago.
Maybe it worked for you. It did nothing for me except hurt my back.
Being Taken by Others
We’ve all been taken or at least felt taken by someone. Like the mechanic who expertly claims the car repair will require a new Johnson rod. Or the televangelist who promises your $100 donation will go to feed orphan children in Romania (when in reality it pays his six-figure salary). And the aforementioned infomercial, promising instant results with so little effort. (Why do we fall for these ridiculous products? LOL)
In reality, we all have an agenda. That agenda, however altruistic it appears, does possess a level of selfishness. We want and do things that benefit ourselves in the long run. Our own self-existence is the foremost thought in our mind. “If others are blessed (or harmed) through what I do then so be it.” So often goes our logic.
Which then makes it really hard to build trust in others.
Like what was happening to Titus, a leader in the early church. His mentor, the missionary Paul, warned him about people – within the church no less – who were teaching incorrect doctrine for their own personal gain. We might expect something like that from a crooked financial adviser. But can you believe that was actually happening in a spiritual setting?
Oh wait, of course you can because we still see it a lot today.
Begin the Testing of Others
So how do we trust when someone’s agenda is not entirely obvious? How do we know they are not withholding information from us? Who can say whether they have our best interests at heart? Is there a test for trust?
The answer lies in the old Russian proverb, which was given new life by President Ronald Reagan as he met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the signing of the INF Treaty of 1987. It states…
“doveryai, no proveryai, – trust, but verify.”
With so many out for dishonest gain, this proverb serves as a standard for building trust in our relationships with others. Even though the words being spoken into our ear seem accurate and reliable, it remains our responsibility to verify their precision and trustworthiness. Failing in this regard leaves us vulnerable to deception, openly naïve and far too trusting.
Building Trust in Others
Verification comes when we consistently see people’s words match their actions. Not once. Not twice. Not a dozen times.
Repeatedly…indefinitely. Trust builds with those speaking into our lives when we see them practice what they preach…over and over and over again. Waver only once and that trust begins to slip.
Is that fair? Probably not. Some people have earned the right to an occasional misstep. But trust in them will be diminished nonetheless when they falter.
Can they ever regain that trust? Absolutely. But it’s going to take some time because the failure will be fresh in our memory banks.
The message today should be clear…be guarded (even and maybe especially with your money.) Trust is the essence of relationships and pretty much a requirement for daily living. We don’t have to be paranoid about others taking advantage of us – just don’t give our complete trust away so easily. Force others to earn it through their consistent actions.
Have you ever been burned by someone you trusted? Do you think it’s possible to ever fully trust someone? How do you build trust over time? How does trust play into our relationship with God…can He be fully trusted?
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