Paul reminds us that, as stewards, we should be found trustworthy. The Psalm response exhorts us to “Trust in the Lord.” For me, this juxtaposition of us being trustworthy and also being trusting offers much room for reflection.
Being both trustworthy and trusting at the same time is one description of the complexity of our relationship with God. God trusts us with all things we encounter – ourselves, our families and friends, our physical world. God expects us to be good stewards of all these gifts. When we are good stewards, we please God because we have demonstrated we are grateful for this trust. When we inevitably fail to fully satisfy this trust, by our actions or neglect, we sadden God because we have not been in fact (in deed) trustworthy. We can repair this trust by our future actions, and by seeking forgiveness for past failings. And I think of God in this instance as the father in the prodigal son story – one who is able to forget the past failings, to rejoice in the present re-conversion and re-commitment of the prodigal child to be more trustworthy – and not someone who dwells on the past, who remembers the shortcomings and failings. I also recall the story where Jesus reminds the disciples that they must learn to forgive as God does – not 7 times but 70 times 7 times. We can take comfort knowing that God will forgive, will allow us to rebuild our trustworthiness, regardless of how many times we fall short.
When we trust in God, we believe that God will provide us with the comfort we seek from living with the realization of our eventual physical death. We can believe that there is eternal life after this physical one, because God has shown us in a variety of ways that God can be trusted, and that God has revealed to us that this eternal life exists. When our trust in God is shaken, for example by the unexpected or violent deaths of loved ones, or tragedies that befall communities, or evil acts by others, we question God – “If there is a God, how could God let this happen?” But it is not that God doesn’t exist, only that our trust has been weakened. How can our trust be weakened? Well, we are human, and the only existence we really know from all our senses is this one. So if that existence is threatened it is easy for us to lose trust.
The relationship of God finding us to be trust-worthy, and us trusting in God, is very symbiotic, a mutual trust environment. As our trust in God grows, as we do good, as we turn from evil, we become at the same time better stewards of what we have received, and thus more trustworthy. We could substitute the word “faith” for trust, and the relationship would hold true. As we have more faith and act on it properly, we become someone in whom God can have more faith that we will in fact do the right thing regarding our gifts. This is similar to the relationship between people regarding trust, but with one significant difference – the mutual trust relationship between people that has been damaged is much harder to be repaired than the one with God. People can forgive, but we have a harder time forgetting the harms we have received from others than God has in both forgiving and forgetting our transgressions.
We can’t control God, but we can control ourselves. We build trust-worthiness by being aware of our actions of stewardship toward what we have received. We can choose to do good; we can choose to turn from evil; we can be faithful. We will fail because we are human, but we also will succeed because we can choose to re-form ourselves, and because God will give us the strength to change our lives. And as we do, we demonstrate to God that we are good stewards, and thus trustworthy.
And so my prayer today is for the grace to be aware in every action that I take that I am either increasing or decreasing my trustworthiness in God’s eyes.
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