Trustworthy – Man as Instructor

"The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome… Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” - Romans 23:11, 27: 22-25 ESV

Serving for over 36 years in the Army, it was often necessary during a mission to trust in something I couldn’t see. I had to depend on others and literally trust them with my life. C. S. Lewis once observed, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?” [A]

In these verses, the Apostle Paul was in a place where he simply had to trust the Lord and he found the Lord to be trustworthy. He had journeyed to Jerusalem despite many warnings of the trouble that awaited him. Yet he was convinced he was listening to the Spirit of God and following His directive. Paul’s mission was to bring the offering to James and the church leaders to distribute to the suffering saints. The leaders were grateful for the offering but encouraged Paul to go to the Temple just to tamp down suspicion among the Jews. However, when Paul did so, the situation exploded. Paul had to be rescued by Roman guards from being torn apart by an angry mob, and he was imprisoned until his case could be heard.  Obviously, this series of circumstances did not go as he hoped, but it was not surprising given the predictions of trouble and even incarceration, and those prophecies proved painfully true.

Even though Paul had obeyed the Lord, and knew trouble was coming, he was apparently discouraged, so the Lord Himself stood by him and exhorted him in 23:11 to: “Take courage…” Paul was assured by the Lord that he would go to Rome and share the Gospel. Based on this revelation, Paul might have assumed that the Lord’s plan would be executed expeditiously, that he would be released from prison on trumped up charges immediately, and he would be on his way quickly. However, it did not play out that way. He languished in that Caesarean prison for two years, first under Governor Felix, then Festus. Finally, he was granted a hearing in Rome, placed onto a ship with prisoners bound for Italy only to be shipwrecked and bitten by a snake along the way.

Consequently, it took a few years and several tense moments for the Lord’s promise to Paul to be fulfilled. But what faith and trust Paul displayed in the mighty God he served!  When it looked like that ship bound for Rome was about to go under, Paul remembered the word the Lord spoke to him a couple of years prior, and he encouraged those on that ship to take courage. Why?  He declared with confidence in Romans 27:25: “for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.”  And as we read the rest of that story, the crew, the guards, and the prisoners had to abandon ship but not one soul was lost. Eventually, Paul made it to Rome.  God kept His promise to Paul.

Men, Paul learned and passed on to us some important instruction: When God gives you a promise, delays may occur, trials may come, hope may be dampened by circumstance, but God’s word is true!  God will perform what He promised. Consequently, as men of God we have the important responsibility of passing along to our children and grandchildren our story of faith and trust in God.  We must communicate as Instructors about the trustworthiness of the Lord: His word is true. His promises are sure. You can count on Him.  That’s the kind of heritage we can and must hand down to a new generation of believers. May they see in us our faith in an unfailing God who is always trustworthy!

  • What level of faith are you passing on to those you influence? Is it a faith that is easily shaken by changing circumstances? Or is it a faith that holds onto the promises of God no matter what?
  • Teachable moments come along every day. How are you taking advantage of those moments to pass on stories of God’s faithfulness in your life and His trustworthiness?
  • Ask the Lord to shore up your faith and help to communicate His trustworthiness to the next generation.

[A] C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed