The Psalms remind us, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9; ESV)
Not everyone agrees with this. The secular humanist would tell us that man is the only thing that can be trusted, because they do not believe in anything higher than man. The materialist would tell us that money is the only thing that can be trusted. The politician will tell us that he is the only one who can be trusted.
Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to buy into such propaganda, living their lives trusting in anything and everything but God. And, over and over again, such trust is proven to be misplaced.
Markets collapse, the value of the dollar fluctuates, thieves steal and wealth vanishes. Politicians who promise, election after election, to be able to fix all of our problems prove inadequate to the task, and generation after generation the same problems persist. No law ever proves to be the one law that will solve everything.
Even in matters of religion, trust is often misplaced, as men put their hope in preachers, pastors and popes. All of whom are mere men.
One need not look very far to see the turmoil in the Catholic church as millions struggle with the fact that the men they trusted and followed, these men knowingly participated in or actively covered up horrific sexual abuses. Nor is such scandal unique to Catholicism. Spiritual leaders routinely prove themselves to be less than perfect.
So, what is the solution?
There are those who decide the only ones they can trust are themselves. Since everyone else proves unreliable, they place all their confidence in their own strength. But the problem in putting faith in ourselves is that we each prove ourselves to be just as fallible and weak as the next man or woman. Our bodies age, weaken and betray us. Our decisions frequently prove to be bad ones, and we make mistake after mistake.
When the Bible warns us not to trust in man, that includes ourselves.
No, the only viable solution is to put our trust in that solid, eternal rock that will never let His faithful down, but will guard them in this life and the next. The only viable solution is to put our faith in God.
Consider why this is.
God is eternal and unchanging. The Scriptures say, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” (Hebrews 1:10-12, ESV; cf. Psalm 102:25-27)
Likewise, God’s opinion about things, expressed in His word is eternal and unchanging. Consider this statement by the apostle Peter, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:22-25; ESV)
Moreover, when God speaks, we know that He speaks the truth, for He cannot lie. (cf. Titus 1:2) When God makes a promise, we can know that such a promise will be carried out. It may not be carried out on our timetable; but it will be carried out on a timetable that God deems best for those who are trusting in Him to do the right thing. (cf. Romans 8:28) And we know that not only is God unchanging, but God is smarter than us, and wiser than us. (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:25)
Some teachers and religions teach their followers to trust the oral traditions of men more than the written truths of God’s word, assuring their listeners that such traditions reflect an evolving doctrine, and are meant by God to replace His previous announcements. But God does not work that way. He says what He means, and His words are eternal and unchanging. When we place our faith in what God has said, we are actively placing our trust in God. In and so far as we depart from the revealed words of God, we are trusting in something else, either our own opinions or the opinions of another man. But when we have a choice between trusting what a man says, or trusting what God has said, it is better to take refuge in the Lord.
God, who loves us, and sent His Son to die for us, is a solid rock that will not disappoint those who rely on Him in faith and obedience.
The church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.