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Friday, March 4, 2016

Trust, but verify

Robert E. Lee said, "I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself." Now, that is a novel concept! We get this mixed up - we look for someone to place in leadership over our lives not because they control themselves well, but because they have a plan.  Plans are good, don't get me wrong - but actually being able to work out the plan is quite another matter!  We have also probably heard the Ronald Reagan advice to "trust by verify".  He wasn't saying we should place our blind trust in individuals, circumstances, or plans.  He meant the source of the information we receive in any form - written, spoken, observed, etc. - must be considered, BUT we must never just accept it at "face value". The truth must be established through thorough examination.

Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.(Proverbs 29:25 VOICE)

If we are really honest here, most of what we accomplish in life isn't because we had the best of plans.  It is more likely we experienced some "perfect storm" kind of moment when the stuff we hoped would happen just does.  It is like when I experiment with making a meal - I put the stuff we like together in this way or that - but the truth of the matter is that I don't always hit a home run!  Why?  The ingredients were the same as the last time I made it.  The cook was the same.  The pans were the same ones I used the last time. What is different?  The food!  The exact ingredients may be "similar", but are they truthfully the same?  No!  They are different because although the food "items" are the same, they are also different.  Sometimes we get duped into believing this way - we see something which looks "the same" as something we trust in and then we automatically think it must be okay to trust in that, as well.  I think this might be how some of us fall into the traps of believing things which are really just deviations from the truth!

When we trust, but don't "verify" what or who it is we are trusting in, we are opening ourselves up to being misled. What seems one way on the surface might just be a totally different thing just beneath the surface!  We must consider the source, uncover the truth, and then compare what we find under the surface with the one thing we can count on to always be consistent and reliable - the Word of God.  Now, I know the scriptures may not tell us "who" to pick as the Prime Minister, President, or even as our boss - but the principles of solid leadership are evident as we read through scripture.  So, we can compare what we see, hear, and come to understand about an individual to what we see modeled within scripture.  The scriptures may not tell us where to invest our monies, but they do give us sound advice on giving first, saving a little for the future, and then learning to live within our means.  Where we choose to invest our monies might not matter to some, but if the business we place our treasures in doesn't uphold the truths taught in scripture, then we are probably not investing wisely.  You see, we trust, but we also verify - we use what we have been given as a source in our lives as a tool to help us make decisions and choose as wisely as possible.

It always worries me when I see individuals just blindly believing every TV preacher, evangelist, or pastor who comes along.  Don't get me wrong here - I am not taking pot shots at anyone.  I am simply reminding us to look beyond what we see on the surface - trust, but verify.  Not every "religious leader" is actually teaching truth.  Not every "church" is grounded in biblical truth.  Not every "religious book" written is filled with words which align with what scripture teaches. If we are to live above being deceived, we must learn the truth and then use it to evaluate all we are being taught.  This is why Jesus commended those who used the scriptures to "trust buy verify" in their lives!  They were using scripture to be more than a "verse a day" kind of religious pursuit!  They were using it to weed out the stuff they should accept as trustworthy!  We look at the measure of a man - not just his promises.  We examine the outcome of an action - not just the fact someone took action.  I haven't found one thing taught or modeled in the life of Jesus which doesn't line up with how God tells us to live our lives.  In fact, he exemplified "truth" in his words, actions, prayers, and even his death. Trust, but verify!  Just sayin!