When someone has bad credit, it’s not the end of the world for them. They can learn how to build their credit. Paying off credit card debt and paying bills on time are just some of the ways you can build your credit as it shows others that you are responsible and that you can be trusted with more (a home, a car or more credit). There are classes and seminars on how to build your credit, but how do you build trust? How do you regain it after you have lost it?
To answer those questions, I’m going to use the parable of the unjust servant in Luke 16. Jesus told his disciples about a rich man who had a steward. I don’t know how well he knew him or if he knew him at all, but the rich man trusted him to manage what belonged to him. The first verse tells us that the steward wasted the rich man’s goods. I’m not sure if he was stealing money or making foolish decisions with what he was given, but what we do know is that he was dishonest.
Jesus never said how long the steward had been doing this, but I’m sure he did it multiple times thinking he would never get caught. The rich man had no idea that he was being taken advantage of. In fact, someone else brought it to his attention. When he learned of what was going on, he called his steward and told him what he heard. He didn’t want to just take someone else’s word so he told his steward to give him an account or a report of what he was doing with what he had been given, but in the meantime, he could not be his manager because he could no longer be trusted.
This man allowed a good opportunity to pass or to be lost. The scriptures never stated that the steward admitted to the accusation, but apparently he knew what he was doing was wrong because he wasted no time trying to make things right. He started thinking about his future. What was he going to do next? I cannot dig and I am ashamed to beg (verse 3). I think he probably could have digged for a living, but he just didn’t want to. He probably looked at digging as a menial job. It was beneath him. He was too smart for that. He had managerial and accounting skills, but to dig ditches seemed more like a demotion than a promotion. And he was too proud to become a beggar, but he knew he had to do something – and fast.
Since it seemed like he was about to be fired, there was a possibility that he was also going to be homeless so he came up with a plan to befriend his lord’s debtors. A man that has friends must show himself friendly (Proverbs 18:24). The steward called everyone who owed his lord and made a deal with them. He basically cut their bills in half. I can only imagine how grateful they were to this man. They didn’t have to pay all the money owed. The steward knew that if he needed a place to stay that someone would remember what he did for them and open their home to him. Smart, huh?
When he reported to his lord what he did, the rich man commended him – not for being unjust, but for being wise (vs 8). We don’t know if the rich man fired him or allowed him to continue to manage his goods, but this parable teaches the just how we ought to be regarding our relationship with God and with people.
Take responsibility for what YOU did. So, you messed up? Don’t be angry at others or blame THEM for something YOU did. Like David, acknowledge what you did (Psalm 51:3). Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another, that you may be healed (James 5:16). Apply this scripture to your life so that you may be healed – emotionally (heart), spiritually (soul) and physically (body).
Building will take work and time. Sometimes an apology is not enough. The foundation is very important so you want to build on what will stand and what will last. Trust must be built on truth, not lies – so be honest. The servant immediately started working. I don’t know how many hours or weeks or months it took, but he didn’t stop until he collected from every debtor (probably in hopes that his lord would change his mind). Now, there is a possibility that the individual(s) involved may not forgive you or give you another chance, but no matter what happens, make up in your mind that you are going to do to others what you would have them to do to you (Matthew 7:12). And don’t worry about what others are doing to you. You are only accountable for what you do with what God has given you.
Do what you do for the Lord rather than for men. Sometimes we do the right thing for people, but with wrong motives and sometimes we do the right thing only when we know someone is watching us, but do it even when no one is watching. Show that you can be trusted at all times – no matter who is watching. People don’t see everything we do, but the eyes of the Lord is everywhere. Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the Lord (Jeremiah 23:24).
Respect what others have. It is not yours. What the steward took or wasted belonged to someone else. It was not his and he was not entitled to do whatever he wanted to do with it. Let’s examine how you are in the workplace. Do you take personal items from work? If so and your manager doesn’t know about it, you’re a thief. You are getting paid to work, but are you spending more time on social media or on your phone or taking breaks? Would you hire you? Would you give yourself a promotion? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? (vs 12).
Love in deed and in truth. If you are really sorry, don’t just say it. Show it. I know none of us are perfect, but please stop using that as an excuse not to change or to do whatever you want to do. I pray that we all get to the place where we truly love God again because when we love Him, we will obey Him. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments (2 John 6, KJV).
Judas didn’t betray Jesus by himself. He made a covenant with some of the chief priests and captains, but we hear more about Judas than the others. That’s because Judas knew better. He walked with Jesus. They didn’t. He betrayed Jesus for selfish reasons, but when he realized what he did, he probably thought, What have I done? Judas tried to make things right. He tried to return the thirty pieces of silver. I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood (Matthew 27:4). The same people that he sinned with no longer wanted anything to do with him. They got what they wanted and they had no more use or need for Judas.
Judas saw Jesus forgive others yet he didn’t believe he would be forgiven so he hung himself. Some of us are the same way. We think that what we’ve done is unforgivable. Some of us still walk in condemnation and shame over things that we did, but God is not disappointed in you and He is not ashamed of you. He still loves you. People may never forget what you did, but God remembers it no more. Take the truth, which is the word of God, and build your trust in what HE said about you and not what people said about you. Trust God to turn things around. Trust God to make everything beautiful in His time. Trust that all things will work together for good. God didn’t hurt you nor did He fail you. The only reason why some of us have trust issues is because we trusted the wrong people.
Sometimes when people get mad, they give what is called the silent treatment, but God isn’t like that. Think about all the things you and I have done to God or to His people, yet He still speaks to us. If God is dealing with you and He is sending people to encourage you, it’s because He loves you and He wants to do what He promised. He wants to prove Himself to you. Maybe certain people will never trust you again – maybe they will never speak to you again, but if you ask God to forgive you, He will forgive you. Let what happened draw you closer to God, not further away and let it teach you how to value the things and people God has gave you.
Become someone who God can trust.
One day, Jesus told a parable of a certain man who had two sons (Matthew 21:28). The man went to his first son and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard’.
- Go (move, take a different course).
- Work (assignment).
- Today (now).
I’m not sure what these men were doing when their father called them, but he apparently had a different plan for them – to work in HIS vineyard. It reminded me of when Simon Peter and Andrew were casting their nets to catch fish and Jesus told them, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Prior to the invitation, they had been working for themselves and for their families, but this day Jesus called them to work for his Father.
The man didn’t ask his sons if they wanted to go. He told them to go. This wasn’t about what they wanted to do. This was about what he needed them to do. He sent both of them to his vineyard to plant and to water so that it would bring forth fruit. The first son’s response was, I will not. Initially, he didn’t want to change. He was stubborn and disobedient, but afterward he repented and went. The man went to his second son and said the exact same words. The son said, I go, sir, but he never went.
The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few (Matthew 9:37).
God just doesn’t want us to attend church every week. There is work to do. Just like Joseph, God has sent us ahead of the famine (Psalm 105:16-17). There are people who have a need and God needs us to be in our place to meet their need. God doesn’t want us to be like the second son who hears the word, but refuses to do the word.
The first son almost missed a great opportunity, but he believed and went to his father’s vineyard. The second son saw his brother go to work. He saw the change and the ‘fruit’ of his labor, but still refused to change. To be honest, I don’t think he wanted to work. I think he is like some of us who just expects our Father to do everything.
If faith does not have works [deeds and actions of obedience to back it up], it is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective] (James 2:17).
God told Abraham that a great nation would come out of him. He was going to make his name great. And not only was He was going to bless him, but He was going to make him a blessing. How do we know that Abraham believed God? Because He obeyed God. He moved toward the promise God made. He went to get what God had given him. Some of us have missed out on things that God has promised us because we refuse to do the first thing He told us to do.
Your blessing is in the obedience.
Maybe God is not telling you to leave a certain location or to walk away from some people, but maybe you need to leave the lies that the enemy has told you – what you can’t do and what you will never be. Sometimes there are things such as hurt and unforgiveness that are keeping us from moving forward. Joseph could have blamed a lot of people for what he was going through – his brothers, Potiphar’s wife and the butler who forgot about him. It seemed like the people who he was sent to help, only hurt him. My point is this: The longer he stayed angry and bitter, the longer he would have stayed in prison (mentally). And in Joseph’s case, he didn’t have a lot of time to waste. A famine was coming and his family as well as many others needed him to be free from prison.
In John 5:4, an angel would go into the pool at a certain season so it was important that one be ready at all times. Whoever stepped in the water first after the angel troubled the water would be made whole of any disease he had. I don’t know how long the impotent man had been lying at the pool, but he had an infirmity for 38 years. According to this man, he kept missing his healing because someone would always step down before him. One day, Jesus saw the man lying at the pool. He knew how long he had been in that condition and He gave him another opportunity to be healed, but the man had to want it. Do you want to be whole?
It’s not too late for you. God has not counted you out. A missed opportunity doesn’t have to be a lost opportunity. Another opportunity is coming to you. I believe God is going to do something even greater in this next season. And just like the impotent man, He doesn’t want any of us to miss it. He wants you to be a part of what He is doing. In fact, He wants to do it through you. He wants to use you greatly in this next season. He wants to make you whole. He wants to restore years to you.
If you believe it, then do the thing that you’ve said in your heart, I’m not going to do it or I’m afraid to do it or I don’t want to do it. Maybe some of you are thinking, I’ve done what the Lord told me to do and nothing has happened yet. The key word is yet. It may not have happened the last time, but it will happen – if you don’t faint. Try it again. Believe Him again. God wants you to see His goodness.
Don’t miss it!
In 2005, there was a woman who received the world’s first partial face transplant. It was reported that she attempted suicide by taking sleeping pills. While unconscious, her dog ate part of her face. A team of surgeons decided to give her a new face. It had never been done before, they had to wait for a deceased donor and the procedure was very risky, but they took a chance. After 15 hours of surgery, the surgeons were very pleased with their work.
But there was a problem.
After surgery is performed, the surgeon always gives instructions. They did their part. Now the patient must do their part. Although something new took place in this woman’s life, she still had old ways. It was reported that she refused to stop smoking and the surgeons believed that if she continued to smoke, her old ways would reject the new work. She wanted the new, but she didn’t want to let go of the old.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I believe this scripture. I believe the moment I received the gift of salvation that this change immediately happened in my life. All things – everything – became new. I immediately became a new creature. I wasn’t the same anymore. I became a different person. However, I believe that some of the reasons why we don’t enjoy the full benefits of salvation or come to the knowledge of what ‘life more abundantly’ is because we don’t follow God’s instructions. Like a dog who returns to its vomit, we return to foolishness. We return to old things and old ways. We don’t allow the finished work to work completely in our lives. I also think that some of us don’t like being different. We don’t like being hated. We don’t like the feeling of rejection. We would rather ‘fit in’.
Another version of the above scripture reads, “Let him be a new creature’. Christ made us free, but it is our responsibility to not entangle (to get caught in; to get distracted with cares; involved in complicated circumstances from which it is difficult to escape) ourselves with the yoke of bondage that He freed us from (Galatians 5:1). God doesn’t just want us to be free, but He wants us to be free – indeed (truly; certainly; undeniably; without question, without a doubt).
God did something great in Saul’s life. When Saul went to the hill of God, he met some prophets and they prophesied. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, he prophesied with the prophets and he turned into another man (1 Samuel 10:6). God, by His Spirit, changed him, but Saul had to do something in order to maintain and guard what the Lord did in his life. Between chapter 10 and chapter 16, Saul repeatedly disobeyed God as well as God’s priest, Samuel. By 1 Samuel 16:14, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit now troubled him.
Salvation is a free gift. We don’t work for our salvation, but we must work out our own salvation. Continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ] (Philippians 2:12).
And that requires change.
One day, I shared with an individual that I wanted to do a certain thing, but it just seemed impossible. The person offered different suggestions to help me get started, but an excuse followed every suggestion he made. He finally got tired of me and said, Well, you don’t want it bad enough. I was mad with him for a long time. (Yes, I got mad at someone for telling me the truth). But I now understand what he was saying. I didn’t want to work hard for it. I didn’t want to sacrifice anything to get it. I wanted change, but I didn’t want to change.
Do you remember when Jesus asked the man who had an infirmity for 38 years, Will you be made whole? What He was really asking was:
Do you like your condition?
Do you want to remain in your condition?
Do you want change?
How bad do you want it?
We’re seeking change of our circumstances, but why not seek a change of our hearts and minds. Let the mind of Christ be in you. Let us be a new creature. Let God transform you into the image of His Son. Renew your mind daily with the word of God. Stop returning to old things and things that are familiar. Change for the change He did in your life. Guard and protect what God has done in your life…
He did a good work in you.