Friday, March 5, 2010

Confidence Restored?


Image by glsims99 via Flickr

There is a financial term "full faith and credit" which means the unconditional commitment of one party to back the the interests and principle of another's debt.  An example of this is the most recent mortgage loan crisis with our government "bailing out" finical institutions who had large amounts of mortgage debt that were worth less than the properties used to take on that debt (due to falling real estate prices).  The US Government bought many of these debts, but more than that they gave "full faith and credit" to help other institutions secure capital so that they could start lending money again to lower mortgage interest rates and stabilize the housing market.  Well I think the jury is still out as to whether this will work in the long run, but the point is this.  The expectation is that the US government will not default on it's loan obligations.  That makes these investments much lower risk, because if things go badly the US Government will bail us out. 

This illustration is much more meaningful when we apply it to our relationship with God and with others.  A person that has a relationship with God can rely on and trust in the "full faith and credit" of God's goodness, mercy, provision, loving-kindness and so on.   That is to say our commitment of Confidence has less to do with the character of the person that we are trusting and more to do with our confidence that God will work things out.  Stated another way, "I trust you not because you are a guarantee, but because even if things go poorly God is big enough to bail both you and me out, by His great mercy and grace."  Ultimately your trust in others ought to be an expression of your trust in God. 

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (HCSB)

Confidence in another person really is an expression of love.  Notice above it says love does not keep a record of wrongs, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  At first glance this seems a rather silly notion to the natural man.  But this verse must be understood in the context of our relationship with God and in light of our future with Him. 

Keeping record of wrongs is the opposite of confidence.  Face it we are all weak in our character.  We all have major flaws.  You don't have to go very far to discover a weakness in yourself or in others that you have a close relationship with.  Keeping a record of wrongs is like going on an investigation of why I should break off this relationship.  You will always find evidence.  The end result is a heart filled with discontent and suffering.  Don't get me wrong being hurt by someone will often take a long time to heal.  You also will likely remember the thing that hurt you for a long time, possibly for the rest of your life.  The difference is being reminded of a hurt is not the same as "let me tell you how you have hurt me."  The difference is in part an attitude that throws it in another's face versus what can I learn to grow from this painful experience. 

Bearing all things leads to a restoration of confidence. The word bear in the Greek is a beautiful word picture.  The root word means roof.  The picture is to cover (ie roof) in silence.  A person who has confidence in the other person will cover them in silence.  What does that mean?  To me it is an expression of not airing dirty laundry.  It can also mean that the relationship is protected and covered without fanfare or celebration.  Think about your roof.  It probably does not get much notice until it stops working.  It covers in silence.  Yet can you imagine your life with out it?  In the same way bearing all things builds up and if needed restores confidence in a relationship. 

Believing all things I must admit is a hard one for me to receive.  As I read that phrase my first thought is I must be a fool to believe all things.  Is that not being naive?  When we look at the Greek for believe then it really opens this up to the purpose of these series of posts.  In this case the meaning is to commit, entrust, give credit, and have faith.  Given that it seems to draw us even deeper in to unconditional credulity.  However I can think of other passages that encourage us to be discerning (1 Corinthians 2:14; Hebrews 5:14).  So then this statement cannot be unconditional belief in all things.  I believe that what is being described here is a disposition to believe in a person and their motives.  When this quality is lost in a relationship then confidence is lost and trust along with it.  The only way to restore confidence is to return to a disposition of trust and faith in the other person (ie believe all things).  Otherwise the opposite disposition becomes a poison well that slowly kills the relationship. 

Hoping all things looks toward the future with a positive outlook for what could be.  This type of hope is the root of Christian faith (Romans 8:24-25).  In relationships it is hope for a better future.  This kind of hope is more than wishful thinking.  It is confidence (there is that word again) that through commitment, hard work, and God's grace the relationship will be a blessing.  So often we are hopeless about ourselves or others.  Hopelessness destroys confidence.  Without confidence there is no trust. 

Endure all things?  But why should I do that?  First consider that if a person endures trials in a righteous manner they are rewarded in heaven (see James 1:12).  There is a kind of endurance that is really just learned helplessness.  It is a resignation to suffer through it, because that is all we can do is suffer.  That type of endurance is destructive.  The type of endurance that is being describe here is when a person perseveres through the pain, suffering, trials knowing that there is something better for them in the future.  Learned helplessness is laying down and taking it with barely a whimper.  Biblical endurance is standing up (with the help of the Lord) and walking through fiery trials.  It is the type of confidence that relies on the "full faith and credit" of our Heavenly Father. 

When we place our confidence in others we create an environment where trust can grow.  On the other hand when we remove our confidence we withdraw an essential quality that is needed in healthy relationships.  Over time it will be wither like a plant without water in the hot of a summer.  Confidence is absolutely needed in a growing trusting relationship.  The great news is that we can place our confidence not in the failings of humans, but in the greatness of God's grace and mercy.  We can trust in God to bring our relationships into the light of His glory and the showering of His love. 

God Bless You.

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