There is an old story of a father who took his young son out and stood him on the railing of their back porch. He then went down, stood on the lawn, and encouraged the child to jump into his arms. "I'll catch you," the father said confidently. After a lot of coaxing, the little boy finally made the leap. When he did, the father stepped back and let the child fall to the ground. He then picked his son up, dusted him off, and dried his tears.
"Let that be a lesson," he said sternly. "Don't ever trust anyone."
That story isn’t from my childhood, and I don’t think it’s from yours either (if it is, let me know). But it would seem that each of us has been through the unfortunate experience of this fooled son. Trust issues run deep in the hearts of men. Promises are easily broken, character is almost always compromised, and the wisdom of our confidants can often prove folly. It seems that the more we live, the less we can trust. From start to finish, life’s journey is met with disappointments, heartaches, injustices, loss, pain, sorrows, trials, and temptations.
The easy answer to our trust problem is to say that we should trust the Lord, and undoubtedly, we should (Ps. 9:18, 28:7, 37:4-6, 112:7; Prov. 3:5; Isa. 26:3; Jn. 14:1; Rom. 8:28). The reality is that we often don’t. What trust seems unimaginable between an earthly son and his father is exactly how we naturally relate to our Heavenly Father.
Humanity’s trust issues with God dates back to the Garden of Eden. And in view of this perfect setting, we want to see that our issues with dependence and confidence in God have never stood to reason because God has never changed. God’s unwavering trustworthiness and our fickle trust are bound to three key things seen in Genesis 3:
Good. Good. Good. Good. Good. Good. Very Good.
That is the Sparknotes recap of each day of creation according to Genesis 1 (1:4, 10, 12. 18, 21, 25, 31). The whole of creation summed up in one word. This is not merely how God felt about the world He made; it’s how He saw it. The world was not good simply because God thought it to be so, though that would be sufficient. The world was good because it was perceivably so. “And behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
God’s goodness in creation was to be sustained by His commands to the creatures of the earth. Mankind, most notably, was given dominion over creation and commanded, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).
Seems like a fair deal. As a matter of fact, it was a good one. But very quickly, in the temptation that ensues in Genesis 3, we find the root cause of all mistrust in God. A crafty, cunning little serpent hisses a small but lethal question: “Did God actually say…” (Gen. 3:1).
The substance of the question is a discussion meriting its own post for another day. At hand, we would do well to focus our attention on the jarring, surprising, and even outlandish placement of the question itself. The serpent’s question plants a seed unlike any other in the garden, one that is not good nor fitting for this perfect paradise.
That seed was a seed of doubt, and its fruit has ever since been an irrational and irresponsible self-reliance in blatant objection of God’s authority.
God is only as good as His word, and His word is altogether good (Prov. 30:5). But when that word is doubted, when its clarity is veiled and its truth is second-guessed, the inevitable breakdown of trust begins.
If you can’t live up to your word, what good are you?
This is precisely the premise of the serpent’s argument in Genesis 3. Not only did this devilish snake question God’s truth, but he altered His command (Gen. 3:1), made God out to be a liar (Gen. 3:4), and accused Him of withholding further blessing from His prized creation (Gen. 3:5). If you’re understanding this correctly, this was the first and most successful smear campaign in the history of mankind.
The plan of attack was not as simple as to go against the command, it was to cause mankind to go against the Creator. Satan understood that if he bent the truth, it would inevitably bend man’s heart toward the One who communicated it. If God’s commands were questionable (at best) and malicious (at worst), His character could be brought under the same level of scrutiny. The intention of this cunning serpent was to make God’s truth expendable by making His integrity worthless.
The descent into distrust has a third ingredient that is added to the mix. If God’s word isn’t true, His worth is diminished, and His wisdom goes unwanted. If you can’t believe what God says, you can’t respect who He is, and you can’t trust His counsel.
This is the assessment Eve made in that fateful moment in Genesis 3: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6). That was fast, wasn’t it? Having assessed God’s Word as flawed and God’s integrity as lacking generosity and withholding blessing, Eve utterly disregarded His wisdom. Instead, now Eve was left to make her own assessment of what she thought was best.
The distance grows quickly between man and God when His Word is doubted, His character is defamed, and His wisdom is denied.
Humanity has been safe in God’s good will, but distrust of God has led to all kinds of danger.
Understand this from Genesis 3: humanity’s growing distance from God has nothing to do with His trustworthiness and all to do with our rejection of His word, worth, and wisdom. God had never left the picture, but He had certainly escaped the minds of Adam and Eve. And such is the reality for us. Where God is disregarded, ignored, and discredited, our trust in Him will waver.
Though that would be the bad news, it is also the extent of it. The good news is this: God has not changed. In fact, even though we suffer the consequences of disobeying His perfection, God has sought only further to demonstrate His trustworthiness toward us. James writes, “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (Js. 1:17-18).
In other words, the God who made all things good has gone so far as to give us His best. It is no surprise at all that the word of God, the worth of God, and the wisdom of God find their meeting place in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Nothing marks a Christian more than trust, and nothing proves God to be trustworthy more than His Son. In Him, none are disappointed, and all are satisfied.
So, let this be a lesson. Trust in Him.