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A Scripture-based meditation

By Dr. Bruce Atkinson
Special to Virtueonline
June 20, 2019

It is possible to obtain too much of a good thing. Even some virtues require a balance... you can get too much or too little. For instance, trust. Too much naïve trust in other people can cause you to be easily deceived, abused, betrayed, and even abandoned. But if you don't trust enough it will lead to that paranoia where life becomes a torment and you keep everyone at a distance. With interpersonal trust, one must find the proper balance.

Because I understand original sin and the weakness of human beings, I know that no one on earth, including me, is entirely trustworthy. I certainly will not trust our leaders or our government. "Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, for there is no help in them." (Psalm 146:2)

So... I can trust no one... but does that lead me to live in fear and hiding? Must I become a hermit or constantly live with attitude of self-defense? Not at all. This is because there is one Person that I can completely trust, and that is our triune God.

"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) This would of course include ecclesiastic 'princes'--church leaders are as fallible as anyone else.

Here is something I put together once to explain my own level of "blessed assurance"-- that allows me to both distrust other people but also to love them and never fear for myself just because of the possibility of betrayal, harm, or abandonment by them.

First, I believe that as a Christian I am saved and sanctified--because of God's faithfulness. He will cause me to endure to the end. As Paul testified, "...for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." (2 Timothy 1:12). "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." (Proverbs 3:5-6) "He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

John, the "apostle of love", taught that "we love because God first loved us" (1 John 4:19). I love God to the best of my ability because He has enabled me to do so. He changed my heart. And this love is my security. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)

And I know that nothing can take away God's love for me. Paul, as he continued to explain in Romans 8, made this abundantly clear: "What then shall we say to these things If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?

Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ...

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:31-39)

So I have nothing to fear in the future, for our all-powerful and all-loving God is there. It is totally reasonable that I can both distrust my fellow human beings and also fully trust God. There is a balance. I can be "anxious for nothing." There is nothing others can do to me without God's knowledge and permissive will. And any suffering on earth will be temporary, with benefits accruing in eternity. I can't lose.

Paul reveals the secret to being content in all circumstances in Philippians 4:4-13. Here is the first part of this passage: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your attitude be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Dr. Atkinson is an orthodox Anglican with a PhD in clinical psychology and an M. in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

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