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Everyone values trust in relationships. As individuals, we develop deeper relationships by investing time and energy into people. Whether it is a relationship with a spouse, a family member, or a friend, being trustworthy is foundational for developing deep and meaningful relationships with other people. Hopefully, we all strive to be dependable, honorable, principled, and truthful in each and every relationship we share with others.
The Bible has a beautiful way of bypassing selfish desires. All too often when presented with a choice between something we want or something we committed to do, we rationalize the choice that benefits us. Rationalizing from selfish desires typically leads to broken promises. We tend to rationalize our own behavior and overlook our own shortcomings. We want to be viewed by our intentions and not our actions. If we failed to do the right thing but had good intentions, we want our friends to have mercy and understand. Yet, all too often, we treat others based on their actions, bypassing and ignoring their intentions. The outcome is we get hurt and offended by people. We treat others harshly when they let us down. Strive to love people through their mistakes and shortcomings and they will respond with the same courtesy. Trustworthy people are purposeful and deliberate, long-suffering, reliable, discreet, and good listeners who strive to understand situations outside their own.
Trustworthy friends are purposeful and deliberate. Growing up, I was taught that to have friends you need to be a friend. That old saying is actually biblical. King Solomon wrote, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” (Proverbs 18:24a NKJV). Trust in any relationship takes time. People must invest in each other to develop deep and lasting relationships. People need to see each other time and time again to build a foundation over shared stories and experiences. This will only happen if you enjoy someone’s company. Having a history with a spouse or friend creates even deeper bonds which bind stronger ties over time. King Solomon wrote, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17 NKJV).
Trustworthy friends are reliable. We need to decide that we will be reliable even when it isn’t convenient for us.
We must honor the commitments we make. Everyone desires reliable friends they can run to in time of need. Be someone who will be there when called upon. King Solomon wrote, “Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?” (Proverbs 20:6 NLT). Loyal and reliable friends expect the same treatment in return. “An unreliable messenger stumbles into trouble, but a reliable messenger brings healing” (Proverbs 13:17 NLT).
Trustworthy friends protect privacy. It is critical to protect confidentiality in relationships. We all want to share intimate issues with people close to us, knowing they won’t go gossiping about it outside the boundaries of the relationship. Showing discretion, being judicious in conduct or speech with regard to respecting privacy about something of a delicate nature, and prudence, being wise in practical affairs, is critical in maintaining strong relationships. Paul wrote, “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care” (1 Timothy 6:20a NIV).
A trustworthy friend listens and is empathetic. Don’t be that friend that doesn’t listen and just waits for someone to finish a sentence so you can talk about what you want to talk about. In relationships, good communication consists of an exchange of information, not dominating a conversation through a monologue. Topics and ideas should go back and forth between people. Empathy is showing an ability to understand the feelings of another, even if you don’t understand the degree of hurt within someone or find it hard to relate to their situation. Good listeners ask follow-up questions to determine what a friend is talking about. If you constantly change the topic to what is on your mind, this might indicate a need to work on your listening skills within relationships.
Sometimes friends just want a friend to listen without judgment or without putting on a “Mr. or Mrs. Fix-it Hat.”
When we do this, often we unknowingly give advice based on our value system and what course of action would work if that situation applied to us. An alternative is to empathize with them and place yourself in their shoes. Always strive to give advice based on biblical teachings and values. Many time this comes across in love and shows you care enough to listen and process the situation. One practical way to become more empathetic is to flip the narrative. Instead of rationalizing why we think we are trustworthy within relationships, why not ask, which behaviors do we value in our close relationships with a spouse, a family member, or friend then extend those values to the people we value.
Model your behavior after biblical principles. Biblical teachings are foundational to any relationship. The Bible is a collection of books based on connecting through relationships. The great news is the Bible covers human shortcomings in great detail through God-inspired scripture. Again, the Bible commands us to love our neighbor as yourself. This command is such an important concept that it is repeated throughout old testament law, three gospels (when you include Luke 10:27), and epistles of both Paul and James (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, 22:39 and Mark 12:31, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8).
Go the Extra Mile:
Make it a habit to love your neighbor as yourself. It sounds simple in concept but harder to put into practice. The bottom line is to be led by the Holy Spirit, focusing on the needs of others. Purpose in your heart how you can brighten someone else’s day instead of elevating your own.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV).
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