The One Trait Needed to Trust a Person
The Pharisee and the Publican
9And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
10″Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11″The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
12’I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’
13″But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
14″I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Years ago, at the church I was pastoring, I preached a message entitled, “Let This Mind Be In You.” My text was Philippians 2:1-11, with verses 5 to 8 being the key portion:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
My secondary text was Proverbs 6:16-19. But, before I alluded to this text, I asked everyone to take out a piece of paper and write on it what they believed would comprise “God’s Top Seven List” — the top seven things they believed would be on the list of things God hated. After giving them some time to complete their list, I asked them to just shout out a few of the things they believed would make God’s list. Their answers were very interesting. Quite a number of them had abortion at the top of their list; murder, rape, child molestation, adultery, thievery, lying, also were common infractions on their lists of things that surely, in their minds, God must “hate.”
Then, I told them to turn to the Proverbs text, where we read together that the top of God’s list of things He “hates” or despises more than anything else is “haughty eyes” or pride, arrogance, and conceit. David is saying here that when, with the help of the inspiration of the Spirit, he mused upon the things that angers God, at first, like the congregants that day to whom I delivered the message, he could fairly easily enumerate six things he knew God despised, but then all of a sudden the Holy Spirit reminded him of one more, which was actually the one at the top of the list — arrogance! Not one person in my congregation that day had it at the top of their list, which is so representative of the difference between how God sees things compared to how humans see things in terms of what is “bad” human conduct or behavior.
I then went on to develop the ultimate point of the message, predicated on Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, what I summarized as: “Humility of Mind.”
This, to me, is one of the most amazing and mindboggling concepts anywhere in the Word of God. To think that the Son of God, who was also God the Son, in coming to earth to become the Lamb of God “who takes away the sins of the world,” somehow (how, is inscrutable) emptied or divested Himself of His God-ness — His Diety — took on human form “in the likeness of men” by being born of a woman, somehow (how, is unfathomable) MADE Himself of no reputation (name, fame, notoriety), took on the form of a bondservant or slave (of God), humbled HIMSELF, and became the paragon of perfect obedience to God, even to the point of death, even the utter shame of death on a cross, the ultimate symbol of degradation and humiliation.
The fact that the Son of God did all of this is mind-blowing, but Paul revealed that all that Jesus did was motivated by “humility of mind” that He possessed, or maybe more appropriately, possessed Him. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so IS he.” Humility of mind compells you to humble behavior and conduct. Humility is not an attribute you attain, but rather it is an attitude you maintain. Genuine humility is not something you can act out as so many attempt to do. Genuine humility, as Paul’s dissertation reveals, is an attitude of continual obedience and subservience to God. True humility is the opposite of selfishness and self-centeredness. True humility is an attitude that manifests itself in constantly laying down your own life, self-interests, and selfish-ambitions in order to serve others with the gifts, talents, abilities, anointing, and wherewithal with which God has endowed you. In sum, humility is self-sacrifice.
After the service that day when I preached this message, a young man who had been attending our services only a short time, who, although he was married with a newborn child, was also a novice in the Lord, having been saved only a few years, was quite exercised in expressing to me his disagreement with the message. From the first day he walked in to attend our services, I discerned a very strong spirit of pride and arrogance on this fellow, which is something I have a great deal of problem in tolerating in someone. But, I remembered how that in my early days of serving the Lord, though in my heart I was totally broken and contrite, and actually constantly battled a strong spirit of inferiority, I probably came off to other ministers I tried to relate with as being proud and arrogant myself, as I tried to explain some of the things God had been teaching and revealing to me. My inordinate zeal was sometimes misconstrued as pride in those days, and sometimes even today by some less discerning and especially those who are internally insecure. So, instead of being put off by this guy and allowing my intolerance to manifest, I determined to love him by walking in the Spirit and crucifying my flesh, and to do my best to treat him just like everyone else in our church. But, this message, which zeroed in on the strongman in his life, really caused that spirit to manifest. His countenance totally changed and became contorted by the anger he had been trying to suppress for months during the time he had been attending.
As he began sharply contending with the points of my message, the Lord gave me a word of knowledge about what was behind his deception, which, despite all the Scripture references cited in the message, would not allow him to accept this message from God concerning the humility of mind saints should be seeking to possess according to Jesus’ example. This man had become an ardent follower of the teaching of one of the top “stars” of the “Word of Faith” camp, who, at the time (I don’t know if he’s since realized his folly and repented), was teaching a “doctrine of demons” which in theology is commonly referred to as “eradication of the sin nature.” This false and utterly absurd teaching purports that when a person is truly saved, the sin nature itself, which was initially infused into the human race through Adam and Eve’s apostasy in the Garden of Eden, is eradicated or removed from the believer. The upshot of the teaching is that the believer is “perfected” at salvation, a concept that is not only inane, but, in fact, insane. Anyone who sincerely believes that, I’m sorry, really HAS been drinking the Kool-Aid, and should seriously consider therapy.
Such a notion is entirely contrary to Scripture, and only hermeneutically unsound exegesis could possibly lead someone to such a conclusion. The Biblical truth is that the sin nature will not be removed until when the last trumpet sounds, and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we (believers) are CHANGED, when the mortal shall put on immortality, and the perishable shall put on the imperishable (1 Cor. 15:50-54)! And that which shall be CHANGED is this body of sin, when the SIN NATURE is forever REMOVED, ERADICATED, TAKEN AWAY! Hallelujah!
Friend, if you are one of those still living under the delusion that you and your life are perfect, or that you have a perfect record, or if you sometimes secretly ruminate within like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Publican who had the temerity in the presence of true Perfection, i.e., God Himself, to look at the Publican and hubristically pray, “I thank you I’m not like him and all the other ungodly sinners all around me,” then what you have to look forward to is the day when you realize you are among the most deceived people on the earth. God says ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. God says there is NONE righteous, no NOT ONE! There’s none who seeks for God as they should. All have turned aside, together they’ve become useless. There’s none who does good, no, not one! (cf., Rom. 3:10)
And the worst part of it all is that your arrogance and hubris, no matter how much you go to church, read your bible, sing in the choir, or even do all the works of the righteous, you have disqualified yourself from the salvation of the Savior, because the Word of God states clearly and unequivocally that it is the UNGODLY for whom Christ died in order to justify them before God (Rom. 5:6; 4:5). He did not come for the righteous, meaning the self-righteous, but the UNrighteous. The Great Shepherd came to seek and save that which was LOST!
Though at first thought there may seem to be some legitimate cause to criticize or discount what Moses wrote in Numbers 12:3 concerning his own humility on the premise it is self-authored — “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” — on second thought, only Moses himself could know just how completely lost and undone he knew himself to be without God in the face of the vile and violent opposition that was being levied against him as Israel’s chief leader. That perhaps speaks to the heart of what humility is more than anything else: the inner knowlege that in and of yourself you are the polar opposite of all that God is, and that without Him you will never and can never be any of what He is.
But, to walk in the kind of humility-obedience Jesus possessed and manifested one must “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” and walk out what Paul told the Philippians in the verses quoted above.
This is the essence of the excellent article that follows by Joseph Mattera, which I heartily commend to you.
(Dr. Steven Lambert)
The One Trait Needed to Trust a Person
By Joseph Mattera
As a Christian in ministry for over 30 years I have become an astute observer of human nature and behavior. The older and more mature I become, the more I understand the scripture in John 2:23-25:
“…many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”
Scripture teaches us that even the godly fail at crucial points during their time on the earth.
The following are some reasons I believe Jesus did not fully trust and rely upon any human being.
The historical track record of human behavior as recorded in Scripture
In Genesis 3 Adam denied the commandments of God so he could stay aligned with his wife’s desires (Genesis 3:1-19). Thus, we see from the beginning that man would sell out the righteousness of God for the pleasures he receives from being connected as one flesh with his spouse.
In Genesis 4 we see how Adam’s son Cain killed his own brother in a jealous rage because he didn’t receive the affirmation he desired from God for his offering. (Abel was the first person to die for his faith!)
Further on in biblical history, we see Noah become drunk and lie naked in the presence of his sons after they landed safely when the waters of the great flood dissipated (Genesis 9:20-27). Even after this great victory of faith, which resulted in the salvation of his family and the preservation of the human race, Noah could not be trusted to walk in righteousness!
Genesis 11:1-9 shows that when humankind unites they rebel against the Lord’s authority and attempt to establish a religion that reaches to heaven built upon human autonomy.
Abraham, that great father of the faith, played the coward when, because of a fear of being killed, he lied to King Abimelech and said Sarah his wife was only his sister. This almost resulted in Abimelech committing adultery with his wife (read Genesis 20)! Even though Abraham was a great man of faith, he intentionally allowed a man to seize his wife for an adulterous relationship!
Isaac, his son, fell into the same deception and also lied to King Abimelech, saying Rebecca his wife was merely his sister. He did this to protect his own life (Genesis 26:7-11).
Jacob, the father of twelve sons that became the nation of Israel, was well-known for being a liar and a deceiver (Genesis 27:18-30).
Furthermore, all of Jacob’s sons (except Benjamin) were participants in selling their brother Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37:12-26). Judah, the progenitor of King David and Jesus the Son of God, had a habit of sleeping with prostitutes (Genesis 38).
In the midst of the epic confrontation with Pharaoh, Moses didn’t even practice what he preached and made God angry enough to slay him, since he listened to his wife and did not circumcise his son Gershem. (Moses did this even though he commanded everyone else to circumcise their sons! Read Exodus 4:24-26.)
Aaron and Miriam, two of the top leaders who served under Moses, rebelled against him because he married an African woman (Numbers 12:1-8). Aaron, Moses’ trusted “number two” man in leadership, also led the children of Israel into idolatry while Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from God (Exodus 32:1-10).
King David, the greatest king of Israel who killed Goliath as well as being a person Jesus descended from, was guilty of murder and adultery ( 2 Samuel 11), was guilty of a sin so severe it cost the lives of seventy thousand Israelites (2 Samuel 24:1-17), and essentially lost all of his sons to the world. (Amnon raped his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13), Absalom killed Amnon and tried to steal the kingdom from David (2 Samuel 13, 15), Adonijah tried to steal the kingdom away from Solomon (1 Kings 1, 2), and Solomon apostatized because he loved many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1-13)
In the New Testament, Peter, the leader of the early church, denied Christ three times, and later on was a hypocrite by pulling away from non-Jewish believers in the presence of Jewish believers (Mark 14:66-72; Galatians 2).
Judas Iscariot, one of the original twelve apostles of Christ, sold out Jesus for money and ended his life by suicide (Acts 1:15-20).
Paul, in his waning hours of life as a faithful apostle, said all of his leaders forsook him except Luke and Timothy (2 Timothy 4 :9-11). Regarding his fellow believers at Philippi, Paul said that all are self-centered and seek their own. Thus, he only had one authentic leader to send to that church (Philippians 2:19-24).
Lest any person think that Christians behave worse than other people in the world, take heed to the scripture that tells us God reveals sin in the Christian camp because He loves us (read also Hebrews 12:5-11) and that judgment begins first in the house of God—so what will become of the ungodly and the sinner (1 Peter 4:17-19)!
Scripture teaches us that God cannot find any person on the earth who seeks Him and does good apart from His saving grace (Psalm 14, Romans 3:10-25) and that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
As we examine the above mentioned reasons showing the untrustworthiness of humanity we find that:
1. Every person has their own competing interests that cause them to be self-centered and put themselves before all others–including their families and their God!
2. Every person has a sinful nature they are born into that causes them to be dead and helpless in regards to sinful tendencies (Ephesians 2:1-4; Psalm 51:5).
3. Every person listens to their impulses that give them the most pleasure, and will continue to obey those impulses until they believe following those impulses will result in pain. Thus, a person will turn to God if they deem that the joy of serving the Lord brings a greater return to them than the pleasures of sin that only last for a season (Hebrews 11:25).
4. People cannot control circumstances. Even close friends and associates will act selfishly and go into “survival mode” betraying others when they are in particular crisis situations. I have seen even the closest friends and family members betray their friends, families, and churches when in crisis mode. This is why you really don’t know your spouse, children, Christian leaders, or friends until you experience a crisis in a time of spiritual warfare. Everyone is your friend in a time of peace and prosperity; only a few will be with you in a time of testing (read Luke 22:28-30).
Who are the people we can most likely trust, even in a crisis situation?
First of all, we must look at the second of the Great Commandments in which Jesus tells us to love our neighbors AS WE LOVE OURSELVES (Matthew 22:37-40). Thus, we are supposed to love ourselves. This means we are to be emotionally healthy enough to make the correct choices in life regarding our faith, families, and responsibilities in ministry.
But, the most trustworthy of all people are those who are able to take it one step further and who actually love others even more than they love themselves! This is what Jesus did when He loved His Father so much He was willing to die on the cross. This is what He told us was the greatest barometer for the highest form of love. Those with the highest form of love are those WHO LAY DOWN THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR FRIENDS (John 15:13 and 1 John 3:16). David loved God more than his own life (Psalm 63:3) and so did the faithful martyrs of the faith who are willing to suffer horrible deaths rather than deny their Lord (read Hebrews 10:32-34 and 11:36-38).
This kind of love, commitment, and maturity should become our highest aspiration in this life, because only when we lose our lives will we find them (Mark 8:34-35)!