Peninsula Community Church
September 1, 2011
Two Hearts and a Contrast of Trust
Jeremiah 17:5-8 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
If someone wants to sell you a product, one way to get you interested in that product is to get you to imagine what your life would be like without it. For example, if the product is laundry detergent an advertiser might show scenes of children playing in the mud, or spilling red juice on a white t-shirt. Then they might show you a split screen. On one side, the competing product gets the t-shirt almost white, but their product makes the t-shirt come out as white as when it was new. They show that contrast to get you to buy their products. It encourages you to use their soap if you want clean clothes. Thus, they are encouraging you by means of contrast.
Jeremiah presents a Contrast for Encouragement
In this passage, Jeremiah is teaching his readers about the definition of and results of trusting in God vs. the one who trusts in himself. He does this by way of a comparison or contrast between a stunted shrub and a towering tree. What is revealed, in essence, is a clear division between one’s attitude and one’s commitment to follow God with all of their heart.
Description of the man who trusts in his own strength:
- The first thing we see here is that the man whose trust is in his own strength will be like a shrub in the desert. Shrubs in the desert have no root system so they are easily blown by any and every wind that comes along. This shrub may be alive but barely. This kind of person lacks security and is filled with fear because they do not know what the future may hold. They live a life filled with worry and concern. They try to resolve the issues of life with every kind new product, psychological techniques or medical studies. This kind of person represents a life out of control. This kind of person reminds me of the person that wants to get rich quick. This person will move from business to business without much success in any one of them. They will sell Amway, Shaklee, and join any pyramid scheme possible in hopes of making a fast buck. But these things most often than not leave people broke, confused and angry. Some will play the lottery not for the sport but to use this as a method to get rich.
- The second thing we see in this description of the man whose trust is in his own strength is that they will fail to see any good when it comes. When our eyes are on ourselves we can be easily blinded to the good around us. We in essence become negative. We begin to live an Eeyor existence. Remember Eeyor from Winnie the Pooh. He was always down and depressed. He is generally characterized as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, anhedonic, old grey stuffed donkey.
- The third thing we see here is that the man whose trust is in his own strength will dwell in the parched places of the wilderness. He will dwell in an uninhabited salt land. There will be no spiritual fruit in his life and very little other fruit for that matter. They will have very little existence except for a personal self-absorption that focuses on no one but themselves. This kind of person is robbed of joy and life itself. I have to brag on my wife a bit. As most of you know she has MS and battles with various physical issues. She can become tired easily and has pains in her feet, head and arms as a result. But, she has chosen to not allow the pain to affect her and as she often says, she will not waste the pain or allow the pain to distract from living life. Why can she do this? It is because her trust is in God.
Description of the man who trusts is in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord: Notice that this man is blessed and not cursed.
- This kind of man will be like the tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream. This kind of man will receive his sustenance and vitality by being plugged into God’s strength. He is cognizant that he cannot live without God. His trust is in God and His ability to provide no matter what may come. In 1969 my family and I lived through Hurricane Camille which until Hurricane Katrina was the measure of all storms. During the storm we were in upstateAlabama. When we drove home the next day there was a phenomenon that we say on a number of occasions. In the area there were many pecan orchards which were destroyed by the storm but it seemed that in every pecan orchard there was the one oak tree that withstood the wind and the rain. How does one grow their roots and become established. They must be a student of the Word. They must be one who is consistent in prayer. And, they must be in fellowship with fellow believers.
- This kind of man does not fear when the heat comes for he his sustenance comes from God and not his own ability to make things work. While he is effected by the issues of life like everyone one else there is a trust in God that understands He will work things out for His glory and that God’s name will be praised and honored.
- This kind of man is not anxious in the year of drought for it does not cease to bear fruit. Even when everything else is dead you will bear fruit because you are plugged in God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. If you abide in me…
In addition to Jeremiah 17 we also have other passages that encourage us to trust in God:
- Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not to your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your steps.”
- Psalm 147:10-11 “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
- Psalm 33:18-19 “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.”
Where is your trust? Which way of life would best describe you? If you trust self I challenge you to repent and begin a journey to understand what it means to trust God. It does not mean that life will be easy but God will sustain and keep you through whatever comes.