There are some people with “trust issues.” They are stuck in a negative frame of mind, believing the worst in others with little expectation that they will improve. They may even castigate anyone who would encourage you to put faith in people. Certainly, our greatest faith must always be in God. He never fails, forsakes, or leaves us (Heb. 13:5-6), but people invariably do those things. We cannot put more faith in people than God, listening to and following them when they contradict His will. That’s a false, wrong extreme, but so also is a cynicism that fundamentally, inherently distrusts people to do the right thing. This does not mean that there are people in our lives who do not struggle with sin because we all do (Rom. 3:23).
Let me encourage you to have faith in God’s people. Why?
- Jesus did. He selected twelve men, salty fishermen, shady tax collectors, strident nationalists, and selfish materialists. While the latter let Him down, the other eleven grew and accomplished much. Jesus entrusted His mission to them (Mat. 28:18-20), having faith that they would accomplish it. But, Jesus also had faith in others—the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Zaccheus, Bartimaeus, Nicodemus, and so many others. Some He put faith in failed Him and even left Him, but that did not ever stop Him from investing that faith in others. Do you remember what He said to Peter after He had failed? “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32; emph. mine). That was faith in Peter!
- It empowers others. When somebody expresses faith in your ability to accomplish something, how do you respond? When you are given responsibility with the explicit or tacit understanding that the giver believes in you, don’t you give it your all to live up to that trust? 2 Timothy 2:2 seems to imply this reaction is a natural consequence of being entrusted with something.
- People live up (or down) to our expectations. Have you ever had someone in your life who handled you this way: “You’re no good!”; “You’ll never amount to anything!”; “You’re hopeless!”? Maybe they don’t say it, but they convey it. Preachers and teachers communicate the word through such a pessimistic prism. Leaders convey it in ways both spoken and unspoken. Love “believes all things, hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7).
- It brightens life. Would you like to maintain a PMA (possible mental attitude)? Never lose the ability to believe in others! A glass half full approach is necessary to retaining an optimistic, hopeful way of life. I’m not saying to be delusional, but you can improve your own quality of life with a fundamental belief that most people, when they know what’s right, want to do what’s right.
- It is biblical. Paul had confidence in Philemon’s obedience (Phile. 1:21). He had confidence that Corinth would do the right thing (2 Cor. 2:3). He had confidence in Galatia’s doctrinal resilience (Gal. 5:10). He had confidence in Thessalonica’s continued faithfulness (2 Th. 3:4). What an example, and oh how we should imitate him in this!
Teresa of Calcutta is often associated with certain verses found on the wall of her children’s home, even credited for authoring it. Kent Keith is the likely author. In the composition, “Do It Anyway” (aka “The Paradoxical Commandments”), he notes that people will criticize and be petty. He encourages doing good, loving, and serving anyway. You can choose how you will spend your life, expecting the best or worst of others. May I urge you to have the most faith in God, but leave room for faith in people—especially God’s people! You will not regret it.