My father used to have a “personal proverb” he lived by, a saying I heard him repeat many times when I was young. He said: “Keep your expectations low. Don’t trust anybody, and you’ll never be disappointed.”
To my little ears, this seemed like a pretty good formula for success; after all, who has not been betrayed or disappointed at some point in their life? His proverb, while it reeked of self-protection, seemed a sure guarantee for a pain-free life.
With age came wisdom, however, and after I became a Christian I saw this proverb for what it really was: a lack of faith. To defend self this way is to fail to trust God. It is an atheist’s answer to the problem of pain, and it leads only to isolation and unhappiness.
My father is old now, divorced and with no real friends to speak of. Loneliness and fear have set in, hiding behind his proud proverb, a proverb which, ironically, itself has disappointed him.
A Christian might argue that there is biblical support for my father’s proverb: after all, John 2:24 states that “Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men… He knew what was in a man.” (NIV) Yet to say that Jesus did not trust men at all is a misapplication of the verse.
In context, Jesus was healing many people in Jerusalem at the time of Passover. John 2:23 shows us that people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His Name. The King James translation reads: "But Jesus would not commit (or entrust) Himself to them.”
According to Barnes's commentary on the Bible, The word “believe” in 2:23 is the same Greek word for “commit, or entrust” in 2:24. Jesus saw that men were enamored of His signs, yet unable (at that point) to fully commit to a true relationship with Him. They loved the gifts, not the Giver.
Jesus wisely did not entrust Himself to the masses, or to those with whom God had not called Him to be friends. He did not, in other words, “cast His pearls before swine.” These were not people who were ready to receive His heart, but only His miracles. But Jesus did commit Himself to some, both human and divine.
Whom Did Jesus Trust?
Lest we think that Jesus lived by my father’s proverb of self-protection, the Bible quickly refutes this idea. There are plenty of examples where Jesus did trust men. Here are just a few of them:
Like Jesus, we humans do not usually entrust our lives to those who are immature or unready. But with those whom God has called us into relationship, we freely share our hearts. To do anything less would be hypocritical and unloving.
Do we run the risk of being disappointed or betrayed? Yes. Judas betrayed Jesus, and every one of the disciples abandoned Jesus in His neediest hours. What, then? Isn’t it better, like my father, to trust no one, so that we are not disappointed?
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.