Deceiving Yourself about Your Trust in God

“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:9

Each Christian must struggle to put his trust in God, not himself. This struggle is foundational in Christian spirituality. We often put our faith in ourselves or our possessions. This shows itself in our lives in many ways. When we are in trouble, we turn to money or to ourselves as our ultimate source of salvation. Or we spend our time and concern trying to increase our money or our own abilities, so that we are more capable of helping ourselves when in trouble.

Many Christians know that we are supposed to rely upon God. And we try to grow towards a greater trust through prayers, Bible studies, and worship. Worship at its best should overwhelm us with the presence and power of God and drive us to trust more in Him.

But there is a way to fool yourself into thinking that you rely upon God and not yourself, all the while you are relying upon yourself. How? You have a plan, and you trust God to make this plan successful. You think that your plan or dream for your life is what needs to happen, and you are confident that God sees it the same way. You believe that God will see to it that your plan is successful or your dream for your life is realized.

This form of trusting is quite common.

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“But I’m trusting God, right?” you say. “I’m not trusting in myself. I know that I am not powerful enough to make my plans succeed. How can you say that I am deceived when I think I am trusting to God?”

The easiest way to explain why I think you are aren’t fully trusting in God is to show that you are only partially trusting in God –– and Christian spirituality demands that we fully trust God and not trust God in part.

Yes. You are trusting in God’s power. I agree.

But you’re not trusting in God’s will. You’re trusting in your will (that is, your plans and dreams), and you only need God’s power to accomplish it. If you had God’s power, you wouldn’t need him. You would be able to ensure that your plans happen.

But since you don’t have God’s power, you need God. So you trust that God will make your plans happen. You’re not trusting in God’s power to fulfill His will. You’re trusting in God’s power to fulfill your will.

That’s dangerously close to idolatry, because you are putting your will in the place of God’s will.

But this picture of God as an all-powerful being who is there to do your will is unscriptural, even though it is popular. You have to trust in God, both His power and His will, for everything. “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done,” right? This is what Christian spirituality demands.

I am thankful that it is His will that is accomplished, not mine. My life would be a mess if I had everything I wanted or planned for. Most of the joy in my life have come from people or things or events in my life that I didn’t plan for, but rather were unexpected gifts from God.

It is comforting and exciting that we serve a God whose will is accomplished. If I’ve learned anything the last few years, it’s that my will almost never is. And that’s a good thing.

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