There is probably no greater duty that both husbands and wives owe each other than to guard and maintain the trust that exists in their relationship. Sadly for some, trust wasn’t there in the first place. For others, the issue is having not defined correctly just what trust is in a marital relationship or not sharing the same definition. For most married couples there is an assumed level of trust based on their experience together during courtship. But, there is the secondary consideration of reputation or past performance which becomes a greater priority for those who have been married before. There is an old adage that says, “Trust is earned.” The truth of this statement lies in the idea that trust is a performance based concept, so what we believe or suspect about someone should be less important than what we witness or see with our own eyes. The trouble with all of this is that when two people are “in love” they all too often only see what they want to see. So the question is, what exactly is trust, how do we guard it and maintain it and what if anything can we do restore it once it has been lost?
In 2Corinthians, chapter three, Paul is continuing to define what it means to be a “minister of the new covenant.” It is the role that Paul claims for himself and the role he wants the believers in the Corinthian church to assume. Simply put, Paul wants them to be servants to each other and all those who are in need, both spiritually and physically. The meaning of the word ministry here is the activity of dispensing or serving what is ours to others who are in need. If you add the word new covenant, it defines for us what is being served. The new covenant is the gospel of Christ; the good news of the salvation Jesus offers and the coming of the Holy Spirit, sent by His Father, to inspire, instruct and motivate us in ministry. Paul is explaining this because his qualifications and message have been called into question by the believers in the Corinthian church, thus causing them to lose confidence and trust in Paul’s message and in turn, the gospel of Christ. Paul tells them not to place their trust in letters of commendation, but to look at what is written on the hearts of those that Paul and the other disciples have ministered to, that they “are a letter from Christ (vs.3).” This is the only real evidence which they should place their confidence and trust in, because what has been written on the heart came from “the Spirit of the living God.”
Trust and confidence between husband and wife is a matter of the heart as well. Yes, performance or actions are important but often what is seen as a betrayal of trust may be more a matter of having been inattentive or neglectful and not representative of what is really believed or valued in the relationship. Yes, change and repentance is called for, but only a change in what we do, not in what we believe. Many couples share the false idea that if there is anyone they can trust completely and have unswerving confidence in, it’s their husband or wife. I’m sorry to burst your bubble if that is your belief, but it is simply not true. A person’s heart maybe trustworthy and true, but their actions will not always reflect it. I think this why when someone we know to be a committed Christian fails in his marriage or in some other area of life, we react with disappointment and are surprised. We even will question the genuineness of their faith or the condition of their heart.
The reality is that because of our self confidence we are tempted to fly too close to the flame and instead of looking or running away from temptation; we trust in our own power to remain true to God as well as our spouse. In verse four Paul reminds us that the only one we can have complete confidence and trust in is Christ and any competence or sufficiency we might have comes from God. For example, I am on an overnight business trip and after dinner I decide to go down to the bar, have a drink or a cup of coffee, watch some television and strike up a conversation with someone to pass the time. Now my intentions may be innocent, but is it a good idea. I suppose it might be if my intent is to be a “minister of the new covenant” in the bar, but you might be well to rethink your plan and the potential downside.
I have heard the argument that this is precisely what Jesus would do and it is being a “light among those who are in the dark.” Perhaps, but consider that Scripture also teaches that light and darkness can not occupy the same space and John the Apostle’s warning that, “If we claim to have fellowship with Him (Christ) yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth (1John 1:6).” It is our obligation to meet people wherever they are with the truth of the Gospel, but if you chose to enter a “dark” place with the gospel, go with a brother or sister in Christ, or invite your spouse if she is a believer, so that what you are doing will not become a temptation for you and a stumbling block to others.
What is trust in a marital relationship? Trust is knowing that your spouse will fail and that to immediately doubt the condition of their heart when they do is wrong. We are to be “ministers” to our husband or wife, making our first priority their reconciliation with God and forgiving them as God in Christ has forgiven us. If both of you put your complete trust and confidence in Christ, then there isn’t a crisis you can’t face together and ultimately overcome.
Tomorrow we will answer the question, how do I guard and maintain the trust in my marriage?
Tool #255 Trust and confidence in a marriage relationship is a ministry to each other, based on the promises of God in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to forgive.