Saturday, April 26, 2014
“I do not trust people who don't love themselves and yet tell me, 'I love you.' There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” ― Maya Angelou
If you have just a few people whom you trust explicitly, count yourself very lucky indeed. Trust is a rare thing these days. There was a time when honor counted as one of the most important of virtues, but those days are long gone. My father always believed that if you said you would do a thing, then you must do that even if it cost you money or inconvenience or pain—if you said you would do it—you must do it. My wife’s father, Clayton, also believed that and both lived it. According to author Ellen Jackson, Abraham Lincoln also believed and lived this. Once, “Lincoln knew how hard people worked for their money. As a store clerk, he walked three miles to return six pennies he had accidentally overcharged a customer.” We don’t see much of this anymore in our “me first” society, and it is especially rare in poor cultures where almost everything is relegated to a “there is no tomorrow, there is only today” mind set. I am happy to say that I try very hard to live up to the role models set by my father and father-in-law. It wasn’t always so. When I was living in my non-Christian world for my first forty years or so, I thought nothing of cheating, lying, and hurting people for my own benefit. Now, happily, those days are long gone and I, like Lincoln, would walk three miles to return a few pennies if I had overcharged someone. We are blessed here, that we have many friends who share this conviction. Friends who are poor, Tanzanian or expats, but who believe in honor and trust. I have people who work for me who will always bring me the money I left in my pocket if they find it while washing my clothes. If they are sent to the market, they return with receipts and the proper change. There are people who would make almost any sacrifice to see that what we needed was done. Oh don’t think that these are the majority because they are not. We even have missionary colleagues who cheat, lie, and tell malicious gossip about us, as well as local people. What we have discovered is that there will always be people who are untrustworthy, but we have to forgive them their weaknesses and continue to love them. Christ asked us to do this and used many examples to show us what He meant. We are to epitomize trust and be role models for the others in both trust and forgiveness. It is not always easy, but I would rather lose money and reputation than be unfaithful to the higher standards to which Christ has called us, and to which my father and my wife’s father lived out their lives exemplifying. I always believed that a true friend is one you could call at three in the morning, tell them you were in trouble, and the first words you would here would be, “I am on the way.” I am blessed that I have friends like these. If you do, then you must also be one of the same. Christ has trusted us to carry the Word, to expand the Kingdom, and we were not asked to do this only if it was convenient or without pain or obstacles. We are on the way, in more ways than one.