- We trust in man when we turn to close human relationships rather than or before God for help, comfort, or other needs. Please note, this does not mean it is wrong to ask other people for help, or to desire advice or comfort from others. God places us in families, communities, and other groups of people precisely because He knows we need each other. I think it's really a heart issue here: when troubles come and you are hurting, suffering, or afraid, who do you really rely on, deep down? Who do you seek out before all others? Your spouse? Your parents? A good friend? Is God your go-to source of help, wisdom, and comfort; or is He an afterthought? It isn't that our need for other people or desire to have human connection and "tangible" help is wrong in and of itself; rather, it is when this natural need and affection takes God's place that it becomes a problem. Earlier in Jeremiah, we are given a clear picture of this: "for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that hold no water." (Jer. 2:13) Only God is the source of living water, of all that we need and long for. Seeking other people to fill or carry our needs is like relying on a broken vase to hold water; eventually it will fail, and we will be left without what we need (and a mess to clean up, too!)
- We trust in man when we seek the advice, opinions, or solutions of professionals and human leaders over God. I think we have been seeing this a lot lately, right? We are living out the consequences of what happens when people turn to human authorities for solutions to major problems rather than humbly seeking God and His wisdom. No matter how gifted a person is, no matter how long they studied a subject or how specialized they are in their craft, nobody has all the answers. Only God does, and only He can guide us through any and all situations we may face. Psalm 146:3 NLT says, "Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there."
- We trust in man when we rely on ourselves--our abilities, our strength, our wisdom--rather than going to God in humility and asking for His help. Our society really pushes the idea of self-sufficiency, independence, and not needing anyone else. We are told that we need to look out for ourselves and are applauded when we push through challenges without assistance. Is this really Biblical, though? Aren't we told to live in humility, and that we can do nothing apart from Christ? "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) Really, Guys, there are countless verses that tell us not to rely on ourselves. We are just too sinful and flawed to be able to work things out ourselves. Proverbs 28:26 puts this pretty bluntly: "Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered."
"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 whose trust is in 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."
Guys. Are you as struck by this as I am? A scraggly shrub in an ugly desert, versus a thriving, full, fruitful tree by a bountiful stream. Does it get any more opposite?! Let's think through the implications here...
Someone who trusts in man...
- is like a shrub in the desert. If you've ever been around a parched, dried up shrub, you know they aren't very secure; it is very easy to pull them up.
- won't see any good come. Basically, there's no hope for things to get better.
- will dwell in parched wilderness and uninhabited salt land. To me, this gives the picture of living in a place where you don't have what you need, and there is nothing and no one around. Loneliness, isolation, and lack in every sense of the word.
- is like a tree planted by water with roots soaking in the stream; it is solidly rooted and isn't going anywhere!
- has no fear even when "heat" comes because all needs are being met still.
- is not anxious for times of drought and doesn't cease to bear fruit.