Where trust comes from

It’s a simple formula. If we want to be trusted, we’ve got to be trustworthy. But too often we expect trust without earning it.

How do we learn to trust and to become worthy of trust ourselves? By watching God.

The way the Scriptures portray God is not as an abstract deity who is perfect in all of his attributes. The way the Bible shows God to us is as the one who is truly faithful. Our God is the one who has established his covenant with us and has proved himself to be absolutely trustworthy by being unshakingly loyal to his side of the covenant — even when we’re not loyal to our side of the covenant.

Psalm 136 has the repeated refrain in every verse: “His love endures forever.” Depending on the translation, that word “love” will come out as “mercy” or “lovingkindness.” It’s the Hebrew word chesed, which refers to God’s covenant loyalty. And so the psalmist is able to pull from the events of creation and salvation and briefly tells the story of how God has shown from the beginning of time and through the history of his dealings with his people that he is unwavering in his love and commitment to his people. This is why we are so thankful to him. This is why we trust him.

Ultimately, the cross of Jesus is the sign of God’s trustworthiness. He is willing to go to ultimate ends out of love for us. In fact, he doesn’t just uphold God’s end of the covenant, he upholds our end of the covenant as well. As Karl Barth suggested, Jesus is God for man and man for God. As God, he is faithful to us. As man, he is faithful to God.

And it’s the empty tomb of Jesus which is the power of God’s trustworthiness. Without the resurrection, the cross would be just sentiment and the desire to be faithful to us. But when cross and empty tomb are combined, the love and power of God are joined into a relationship so solid we can trustingly build our lives on it.

It’s in reading this story of God’s covenant loyalty in the pages of Scripture that we learn to trust and see what it means to be trustworthy. It’s in this reading that we discover how untrustworthy we are and yet are shown how to become trustworthy as we follow the way of our Lord.

Want to be trusted? Be trustworthy. What does trustworthiness look like? Look at Jesus.