FAITH IN PEOPLE

FAITH IN PEOPLE

Neal Pollard

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.

HOW JESUS SAW THE PEOPLE

HOW JESUS SAW THE PEOPLE

Neal Pollard

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mt. 9:35-38).

In these few verses, the Holy Spirit through Matthew paints a beautiful picture.  He presents how Jesus saw the people He encountered as His public ministry gains momentum.  How Jesus saw people gives us an example for how we should see them, too.

He saw them as hurting (Mt. 9:35).  Their hurts were literal, from sickness to disease.  Those hurts mattered to Jesus, and He took action.  He helped the hurting.  We need to approach people the same way, sensitive to the hurts they harbor.  The hurts may be physical, but as often they are social and emotional.  We cannot, as Christians, be callous and unfeeling to their hurts.  Instead, we must treat them as we would wish others to treat us (Mt. 7:12).

He saw them as hopeless (Mt. 9:36).   He did not see them as a lost cause, but rather as people in search of a hope that eluded them.  They were weary, scattered, and “shepherdless.” Yet, this condition drew Jesus’ concern.  He wanted to give them guidance and assistance.  He still wants that for the multitudes today, but He works through us.  We need to understand the hopelessness and directionlessness of the multitudes.  It should draw our concern.

He saw them as a harvest (Mt. 9:37-38).  They were not just a number, but they provided plentiful opportunity.  Jesus wanted His disciples dispatched to minister to that multitude.  His concern has not abated today.  He wants us in the harvest fields, reaching the hopeless and hurting.

Yesterday, during our missions meeting, there was a most unusual “benevolence call.”  Let me just say “his” name was Mary.  As I left the meeting to meet him at the door, My first reaction was repulsion.  Then, I felt pity.  What causes a young man to become so confused or hurt to act out in such a way?  What hope did he have?  What opportunity did I have to reach him?  Who knows how his story will end, but my hope and prayer is that something was done or said that will lead him to Christ at some point.  You will not likely meet someone so apparently in need of Jesus today, but most of all you encounter are lost.  That means they are in need.  Let us see people like Jesus did!