(Image by James Best, (C) 2019, https://www.behance.net/gallery/82544295/Sermon-Illustrations-2019.)
The front of a woman’s red station wagon was crushed when an elephant at a circus sat on it. The owners of the animal apologized, explaining that the animal, for some reason, simply liked to sit on red cars.
In spite of the damage, the woman’s car could still be driven. On the way to the garage she was stopped short by an accident involving two other cars just ahead of her. When the ambulance arrived a few minutes later the attendants took one look at her car, then ran over to assist her. “Oh, I wasn’t involved in this accident,” she explained. “An elephant sat on my car.”
The ambulance attendants quickly bundled her off to the hospital for possible shock and head injuries, despite the lady’s vehement protests.
(Bits and Pieces, October, 1991, retrieved from https://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-illustrations/6805/elephant-sat-on-my-car/)
Sometimes you don’t know who to believe! Or whom to trust. Good news – our God is trustworthy!
Trust in God is founded in faith and deepened with experience.
- We need faith to trust God (Proverbs 3:5-6).
CONTEXT: Proverbs three is a chapter that extols the benefits and value of wisdom. There is a pattern in 3:1-12: the odd-numbered verses express the obligations of the person seeking wisdom and the even-numbered verses promise a reward for keeping those obligations. We will focus on verses five and six explain the role of TRUST in our search for wisdom.
The word TRUST meant to rely on someone for security. It is a confidence based on who God is, not on who you are. TRUST IN THE LORD requires three things of the faithful wisdom-seeker.
First, TRUST…WITH ALL YOUR HEART (5). The key word here is ALL. Trust is not indicated in partial commitments, withholding some for self.
Second, LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING (5). There is certainly a practical side to wisdom, but that is not an aspect of the spiritual. Truly wise people are not limited to the things they know because of training and experience, they know other things because God has revealed them. God reveals wisdom in His word and by the Holy Spirit, working outside “common sense.” If there is ever a conflict between worldly wisdom and divine wisdom, we must choose God’s wisdom.
Third, IN ALL YOUR WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM (6). Biblically, the word “way” can be equivalent to our word “lifestyle.” It is the direction our choices take us. The words WAYS and PATHS in this verse both refer to the character our decisions have created within us. We encounter the word ALL again in v. 6. We need to acknowledge God’s ownership of our bank accounts, home, family – everything. If Jesus is not Lord over all, He’s not Lord at all.
The benefit of trusting God promised here in Proverbs 3:5+6 is HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT. As anyone who’s driven down a long straight prairie highway can tell you, it’s easier to stay on the road. The promise of a “straight path” is a promise of a life that’s easier to live. By way of contrast, Proverbs 2:15 + 9:18 uses the image of a crooked path as a sinful way through life. These verses warn that crooked paths lead to death.
- We deepen our trust as we experience reliance on Him (Malachi 3:9-12).
CONTEXT: Malachi 3 warns that the Day of Judgment is coming and it will not go well for the Israelites because they have stolen from God by being unfaithful in their tithes and offerings.
Verse nine states the WHOLE NATION is UNDER A CURSE because they dared to rob God. The Hebrew word used here for NATION typically referred to the pagan nations, not Israel. This is a clue how upset God is with His people at this point. Their failure to be obedient in the command to tithe is cast in the worst possible light: it is robbery, stealing from God! The penalty for robbing God is being CURSED by God.
Verses ten to twelve move away from the threat of curses to the promise of blessings if they would only obey God. These verses emphasize the value of personal experience as a means of deepening our trust in God. “TEST ME IN THIS” the LORD declared.
God called upon His people to do the right thing; to bring in THE WHOLE TITHE. Upon the condition of their obedience He promised to THROW OPEN THE GATES OF HEAVEN AND POUR OUT SO MUCH BLESSING THAT YOU WILL NOT HAVE ROOM ENOUGH FOR IT. He promised to prevent negative things like loss of crops. He promised positive things like respect and success. The promise is that many blessings – material and personal – will be poured out from heaven to the degree that even the pagan NATIONS have to acknowledge Israel was BLESSED.
The word DELIGHTFUL makes a great promise sweeter still. In Isaiah 62:4 God called Israel “Hepzibah,” which meant “my delight is in her.”
These verses affirm the reality that only those who take faith-based risks will ever know how trustworthy God truly is. To put it another way, “If all you ever do is what you can do by yourself, you will never know how trustworthy God is.”
Trust in God is founded in faith and deepened with experience.
A little boy was walking down the beach, and as he did, he spied an elderly woman sitting on the sand. He asked, “Are you a Christian?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Do you read your Bible every day?”
“Do you pray often?”
Again she answered, “Yes.”
With that the little boy asked his final question, “Will you hold my quarter while I go swimming?”
What do you need to give to God as you head back out into the waters of life? I invite you to establish your trust in Jesus.
(Author unknown, retrieved from https://www.family-times.net/illustration/Trust/202753/)
Let’s stop for a moment. If you ask a room full of church people “Do you trust God?” 99.9% of them are going to answer in the affirmative. If you ask them, “With what do you trust God?” be wary of the one who too quickly answers “Everything.”
The truth is likely to be something less than everything. Trust in God is a matter of sacrifice. To trust God means we sacrifice things most dear to us, putting them entirely under His control. To trust God requires us to love God more than self, people, possessions, and church COMBINED! People who trust in God may buy insurance, but they don’t rely on it to “take care of them.” People who trust in God may set money aside as a sound financial strategy but they don’t believe that savings will prevent calamity nor will it console them when trials come. People who trust in God will not manipulate others or wield legalisms because no one can stand in for you on Judgment Day. People who trust in God have their eyes set on heaven: not just as a place they’ll end up “someday,” but also as a reality we are trying to recreate in our daily experience.
Proverbs, Tremper Longman III
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary
#5 – Proverbs – Allen P. Ross
#7 – Malachi – Robert L. Alden