Recently, I saw a young lady wearing a black t-shirt with two English words emblazoned on it in white letters. The words caught my eye because of their large bold print. In Cambodia, where I live, t-shirts with English phrases are very popular. Oft-times though, these shirts are printed in non-native English-speaking countries, so the phrases do not always make sense, or they are grammatically incorrect. I have had many good side-splitting chuckles over such blunders as these, but this phrase was correct in its spelling and grammar. It communicated clearly.
On occasion, people will wear a shirt that has an English phrase on it and they have no idea what it means. The shirt is worn simply because they like how it looks. One time I saw a young guy wearing a zip up hoodie with three phrases in bold print across it. It stated, “I’m grouchy, I’m uncomfortable, I’m pregnant.” I had a good laugh over that one. The young man had no idea what it said. Incidentally, the guy was not pregnant. I do not know if the young lady I saw wearing the black t-shirt with the two words knew the meaning of the phrase she was touting or not. I did not ask her because she was a total stranger.
What was the phrase on the shirt that this young lady was wearing? It was only two words in bold white letters. They were two simple words with only a total of ten letters. I am sure the lady thought it was cool and some would call it edgy. The phrase was easy enough to understand but I think it was total nonsense because it is entirely unlivable. The phrase simply stated, “NEVER TRUST.”
I say this phrase is unlivable because it is impossible to do much of anything without trusting others. I go to the store and buy a bag of sugar. I trust that when I get home I will not find out that it is salt instead. I go to the bank and put money on deposit with the bank. I trust that when I need it, the money will be available for withdraw. If I were to have a heart-attack and needed surgery, I must trust that the doctor has the education, know-how, and experience to perform the surgery. Even if we stay at home and never go out and interact with people, we still require the need to trust. We must have some level of trust in those who built our home that they are competent builds and that the house will not collapse on us.
You might state that, “Yes, it is true that we trust people in our daily lives, but they often break our trust.” This is totally true. We get home from the store and find that our sugar is actually salt. Bankers through misuse of funds or embezzlement cause banks to go under but thankfully in this case most banks have insurance that will cover our deposits. Sometimes doctors through their negligence cause greater injury or even death. Builders through use of substandard materials or incompetence are the cause of homes and buildings collapsing. The point is this, if we start from a place of mistrust, it is difficult to get much accomplished.
A problem arises when we translate this mistrust into our relationship with God. Our ancient enemy whispers in our ear, “Did God actually say…” and “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:1, 4; ESV). But we must trust in God. Our very lives depend upon it. The writer of Proverbs 3:5-6 states it this way, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (ESV) Proverbs is the book of wise living. Godly wisdom begins as we learn to trust our entire life to him. Trusting in God begins by not leaning on our own understanding but upon his infinite understanding.
In John 14:1, Jesus is offering comfort to his disciple amid their confusion and dismay at his words that he will soon be leaving them. Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts bee troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (NIV). Some English translations render this as, “Believe in God; believe also in me.” I prefer the translation “trust” over “believe.” The word believe can be a bit nebulous. Trust on the other hand compels us to act. I can say all day long that I believe you to be an honest person, but if I trust you to mind my wallet that has $1,000 in it, that puts teeth into my belief. As the hymn writer states, “Trust and obey, for there’s not other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Jesus taught that we are to love God and to likewise love our neighbor. The order is important. Love for God begets love for our neighbor. We can never hope to love our neighbor aright until we learn to love God. Our love for him flows into our love for others. Likewise, I would contended, that trust for God will beget trust for others. Maybe the reason we can not trust others is because we fail to trust God. People will disappoint us. They will break the trust we have afforded them. But God will never break the trust we give to him. He is eternally trustworthy.
So, to the young lady with the black t-shirt with two bold words in white, I say, “What a load of tosh.” You say, “Never Trust.” I say, “I pity you if you truly believe that.” Not only is the statement unlivable, but it will both isolate you from God and from any meaningful relationship. David states it well in Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Come out of the dark pit of mistrust into the bright broad country of trusting in the Lord.