But when He was in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, many believed in His name [identified themselves with His party] after seeing His signs (wonders, miracles) which He was doing. But Jesus [for His part] did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all [men] and He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man [needed no evidence from anyone about men], for He Himself knew what was in human nature. [He could read men’s hearts].
— John 2:23-25 (AMPC)
How deeply can we trust others? How much of ourselves—our real, authentic selves— do we give to others, and how vulnerable are we to them? Do you let other people really know the true, flawed you? I suppose the answers to these questions are as varied as all the different situations. But considering the questions is definitely food for thought. Those of us who have been hurt by trusting too much tend to pull back when we get into certain situations.
I was once involved with a group of women whom I dearly loved, but eventually I realized our relationship wasn’t healthy for them or for me. I had become too dependent on them, even placing a trust in them that belongs only to God.
All of us know we’re supposed to place our ultimate trust only in the Lord. But sometimes we encounter individuals or groups who mean so much to us that we give too much of ourselves, or we allow them authority in our lives that belongs only to the Lord. When this happens, our lives are out of balance. And when we get out of balance, we open a door for the devil.
The words from John’s gospel serve as an appropriate warning to us. He was speaking of the relationship Jesus had with His own beloved disciples. Jesus knew how much and how little He could trust even those who were closest to Him. He understood human nature—something all of us have.
Jesus knew that we, too, would need discernment about trusting others, so He sent His Holy Spirit to guide us and to let us know who we could trust. In 1 Corinthians 12:10, the apostle Paul referred to the spiritual gift called the discerning of spirits, and in verse 31, he urged us to earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts… One of these “great gifts” is discernment, and it helps us distinguish between good and bad, not just bad.
True spiritual discernment motivates us to pray when a problem is identified. A genuine problem being discerned by a genuine gift will follow the scriptural plan for dealing with it, not fleshly ways that only exaggerate the problem. As we walk closely with God and ask for His guidance, the Spirit will provide it.
Some people seem to have the “gift” of suspicion, and it comes out of an unrenewed mind. Discernment, on the other hand, is the fruit of a renewed spirit.
The book of Acts provides a good example of the discernment and trust issue. The Scriptures describe a couple named Ananias and Sapphira, who were members of the first church in Jerusalem. In those days, believers sold their possessions and shared them with others. This couple sold some land, kept part of the money, and brought the remainder to Peter. That was alright because it was their money. But only giving part of the money and then leading Peter to believe it was all they had earned from the sale of their property was not alright.
But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart that you should lie to and attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit and should [in violation of your promise] withdraw secretly and appropriate to your own use part of the price from the sale of the land (Acts 5:3). Peter pointed out that it was their land and their money. Their sin was in giving only part of the money and claiming it was everything. You have not [simply] lied to men [playing false and showing yourself utterly deceitful] but to God (v. 4b).
Both the husband and wife died for that deception. As terrible as that story is, it shows us clearly that the Holy Spirit knows our hearts. And it also shows us that the Spirit can show the intent of our hearts to faithful, committed servants such as Peter through discernment. God wants us to love and trust others, but we need discernment to guide us. There is a line where our trust and commitment must be reserved only for the Lord. When we give that trust to others, not only will we be disappointed for no human can live up to our expectations, but we disappoint God.
So don’t make that mistake. It is wise to use discernment in loving and trusting others. God places the right people in our lives who can be trusted. But we are never to put our trust in people or things over that which we put in Jesus! You will never go wrong by loving and trusting God completely.
Prayer Starter: Lord, I trust You, but I want to trust You even more. When I’m tempted to give the trust to others that only You deserve, please help me to be true to You. Help me, through Jesus Christ, to be sensitive to the leading of Your Holy Spirit, amen.