This Issue of Trust
2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV) That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced (persuaded) that he is able to guard what I have entrusted (committed) to him until that day.
This issue of trust keeps cropping up in my walk with Christ. I’ll go for a while, doing fine trusting God to answer my prayers, and then there’s a glitch. Someone I’m praying for takes a nose dive, something I’m trusting Him for makes a sharp turn the opposite direction. If I’m not careful, my trust scale wants to tip and the faithfulness of God comes into question.
God and I have had serious discussions about it. I don’t want to end up like Israel, dying in today’s wilderness because I couldn’t get this issue settled. He says come, let us reason together (Isaiah 1:18)). So, I come and we reason things out until I’m back on track, trusting Him again.
Paul was in prison (again) when he penned this 2 Timothy scripture. And that was after he had been beaten with rods, and stoned, and three times shipwrecked, and after he was exposed to perils from bandits, perils in the city and in desert places, and perils at sea, and . . . and . . . Obviously, Paul’s trust wasn’t based solely on what he saw, felt, or how the cards fell in the natural. Neither did his sense of well-being depend on living the good life free of pain, disappointment, and struggles. If in this life only I have hope in Christ, we are all men most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Yet, Paul said he was persuaded that God was able to guard what he had entrusted to Him. Persuaded is an interesting word. According to Oxford Dictionary, persuade is to—cause (someone) to believe something, especially after a sustained effort . . . Considering the many harrowing circumstances Paul faced, my guess is that his confident trust was developed over time through sustained effort on both his and God’s part. I say this, because as his life drew to an end, he called his journey a good fight. It was through sustained effort that he finished his course and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:6-7).
Satan uses tough circumstances to try and persuade us that God can’t be trusted. And if God can’t be trusted with the events of our natural lives, how can we trust Him to get us across the finish line into eternity? Paul avowed that his sufferings in life were no cause to lose trust in God. Why? Because he had learned (through sustained effort) to tap into his inheritance that goes beyond the reaches of change and decay in this world. For we have been saved into a living hope, an inheritance incorruptible (1 Peter 1:3-5). Paul trusted God to keep his heart burning with passion, to keep it free from offense and bitterness no matter the trials he faced.
But this issue of trust goes both ways. Not only are we trusting God to guard (keep) what we’ve entrusted to Him, God is entrusting something to us. Guard and keep [with the greatest care] the precious and excellently adapted [Truth} which has been entrusted [to you], by the help of the Holy Spirit Who makes His home in us (2 Timothy 1:14).
What a privilege it is for God to trust us with the gospel of His beloved Son. It seems a risky business on His part to give us guardianship over something so precious to Him. He's quite adventuresome. Things could get a little dicey if the weak and imperfect material He is partnering with doesn’t draw constant help from the Holy Spirit to get the job done.
Think about it. We are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), stewards of Christ who are entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed (1 Corinthians 4:1). We are living epistles—walking, talking, breathing, interacting epistles—known and read by all men (2 Corinthians 3:2). The world is studying us, sizing us up. If ‘what you see is what you get’, what message are they receiving from us as Christ’s personal representatives? It is imperative that we adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things (Titus 2:10), that our lives exude the beauty, the excellency, the fragrance of His presence (2 Corinthians 2:15). Paul urged Timothy to study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial) a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). What is precious to God must be precious to us as well, and handled with great care.
Can God trust us with this weighty responsibility? Thankfully, the jury is still out on that one, and through sustained effort we will cross the finish line having mastered this issue of trust.