Belief, Faith, And Trust

January 19, 2011
by Robin Ross

I have always felt that the terms "belief" and "faith" were vague. I remember as a child kneeling by my bedside confessing some sin that I had committed, perhaps a lie, and asking God to forgive me. Somehow, I had no assurance that God was actually forgiving me, and I remember trying to "screw up" enough faith to believe that I was forgiven, but it didn't come, and I rose feeling unforgiven. Years later, I realized that all I had to do was to trust God's promise that He would forgive me if I confessed my sin:

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)

Gradually, I concluded that "faith" is vague, but "trust" is specific — and I could do that. Even "believe" is vague. When people ask, "Do you believe in God?" it has the same impact as "Do you believe in Santa Claus?" focussing mainly on his existence. Incidentally, seventy-two percent of Canadians "believe" in a god (i.e. that one exists), but most of them act as if it doesn't matter. However, if I asked, "Do you believe in Prime Minister Stephen Harper?" I would be asking if you trust him, i.e. "Is he trustworthy? Would you vote for him?" Consequently, I find that I communicate better when I talk about trusting God than about "believing" in Him or "having faith" in Him. There is a big difference between "belief" and "trust". You can believe anything you want to, but trust is what leads to action. For example, I can believe that a person is credit-worthy, but only if I trust him would I actually loan him money.

I remember a science class when the teacher plugged in an electrical cord that had two bare wires sticking out the other end. He said, "What would happen if someone touched one of these wires?" The class fell silent. My knowledge of electricity and insulation told me that nothing would happen, but I knew that if I answered the question, the teacher would invite me forward to try out my theory. In other words, it was one thing for me to say that I "believed" that nothing would happen, but it was a different matter to actually "trust" my knowledge of electricity enough to go forward and act on my belief. Emboldened, I put up my hand and said, "Nothing." As predicted, the teacher invited me to touch the wire. I did, and nothing happened.

Here is today's challenge. Let's pick a situation that is filled with uncertainty, suspense, fear, or indecision. To that situation, let's apply the following Scripture and see if we trust God's promise enough to relax and commit it to Him:

Romans 8:28-29a – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. (NIV)

Prayer: Lord, we know that we love You, and we want to trust You completely with every detail of our lives. Take away the fear that we have that things won't go well, or the way we would like, for we know that Your ambition for our lives is that they might resemble Jesus. We pray this in His name. Amen.

About the author:

Robin Ross <rross@telus.net>
Mission, British Columbia, Canada

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