The Peril of Misplaced Trust
Written by Donna on 11 January 2015.

“Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” (Proverbs 20:6 NKJV)

Occasionally this Scripture bubbles its way back into my consciousness for a reality check. Sometimes it has to do with my teachings about romantic relationships, contrasting this Scripture with the question in Proverbs chapter 31, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” (Prov. 31:10a KJV) But sometimes it’s in reference to relationships in general. Today, it came to my remembrance based on general relationships.

The premise underlying my subject, “The Peril of Misplaced Trust,” seems obvious. And the caveat that some will automatically respond with – that is, “trust God” – is also obvious. But I would caution the reader not to be too hasty in riding off into the sunset, patting him-/herself on the back for such great wisdom in these matters just yet.

You see, we can jump on the proverbial bandwagon (no pun intended) and respond that we shouldn't be trusting people anyway. We can take an “enlightened” stance and quote, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5 KJV) We can acknowledge other Scriptures, like “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7 KJV)

However, I will propose to you that although such Scriptures definitely should be part of our daily bread, spiritually speaking, they do not say to trust no one but God. They speak of trusting in Him, above and beyond all else. The Scriptures do not say, “Never trust your friend.” They do not say, “Never trust your spouse for anything.” They do not say “Never trust your child to do anything.”

Now there are others who might counter with, “No! I don’t trust people. I trust God daily for them to do, be, and treat me right!” And that’s a wonderful aspiration or goal. Note that I called it an aspiration, rather than a truth of one’s life. You see, if we’re honest, we don’t ever simply trust God for other people’s actions in our lives. We do more than that. We trust our friends. We trust our spouses. We trust our children.

If anyone still says that he or she only trusts God for other people to do what we expect of them, we’d only be praying to God for everything we wanted out of those relationships. We would never request anything of the people themselves, or get hurt or disillusioned when the people didn't meet our expectations.

I’ll prove it. If you work for an employer, what would happen if you went to pick up your check and they didn't have one printed for you? If they called everyone’s name but yours, would you ask, “Where’s my check?” Or would you walk away and say, “Lord, I trust that You’ll show them that my name wasn't on an envelope.”

You trust your spouse to come home after work. You trust your children when you send them off to school, that they will get on the school bus, go to school, and come home after school. If you only trusted God for them to do what you expected, you would not be upset if your kids get home late and said, “I went to Bobo's house after school because he had a new ‘X-Men’ movie.”

If you only trusted God for your spouse to do what was expected, you wouldn't be upset when he/she neglected to remember your anniversary, or birthday, or a special event you had expected them to attend with you. You’d simply say, “Well, God, I guess you didn’t want them to remember this event (activity). I’m trusting You that they will do these things and if they don’t, that’s between You and them.” If you find out that your spouse has been unfaithful in adultery, you won’t say, “Lord, I trust You only that they will never cheat on me again, and I trust You only for them to be faithful to me.” Now, you might say it after you hit the ceiling and they scrape you off with a spatula or sweep you off the floor with a broom – if you want to look spiritual, that is – but you won’t say it at first. I’m pretty sure you won’t.

Yes, we have expectations based on trusting those around us. We do – be honest before God. Those expectations are based on trust. Ultimately, the wonderful, glorious, spiritual goal is to only trust God. But in reality, let’s face it. No one is there yet.

This is important because sometimes, in life’s circumstances, our trust is indeed misplaced. We trust people that are not trustworthy. Or we might trust people who have ulterior motives. Or we trust that an employer has our best interests at heart when really, the bottom line is the employer’s greatest concern. We oftentimes find out after we’ve been injured. And people may even change over time – they once were trustworthy, but as time passes, they become untrustworthy.

Misplaced trust carries great peril. Although no one is perfect, there will be clues if we’re perceptive, that will alert us to someone with whom we should be more careful. If you’re like me, you tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately in some instances, the benefit of the doubt becomes a disadvantage of the doubt. However, those clues and sometimes outright warnings from God can help us not to be devastated by the misplaced trust. We learn to be more forgiving, or more discerning! Both are good outcomes. Or alternatively, we can plan for turns of events. This might even prevent untrustworthy acts. But this is dangerous territory if not done in the right spirit.

So the summation of the matter is this: “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise…” (Eph. 5:15 NIV)