One day, when John D. Rockefeller was a boy, his father had him do several “trust falls.” He would jump off of a chair and into the strong arms of his father. After four or five times of doing this, the son jumped toward his father; only to have his father coldly stare at him, while letting him fall to the floor. A perplexed son looked surprisingly toward his father, who stated, “Son, don't ever trust anyone completely. Not even me!”
While this may seem like a cold and cruel act, there is most certainly an element of truth within the lesson. Rockefeller eventually grew up, becoming one of the most successful business men in history as the head of Standard Oil. And, in so doing, he developed a cautious eye toward both colleagues and competitors. This business savvy no doubt came about, at least in some measure, because of his father's lesson.
It might surprise you to know that the idea of caution toward people is a Biblical idea. The Bible tells us Jesus was no fool as it pertained to trusting others. The gospel of John says, “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:23-25) Men would worship Jesus. Men would also kill him.
Jesus passed this lesson on to his disciples, and in turn to us as well: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues.” (Matthew 10:16-17) While we are called to be innocent, we not called to be stupid. Some Christians incorrectly think that being naive means being holy. But Jesus teaches otherwise. Nevertheless, in our caution, we must not give way to a critical cynicism either.
We should always remember that people will sometimes let us down. But we should also remember that we let others down as well. While learning to trust others, we have to keep in mind their weaknesses, as well as our own. The only being in the universe we can trust with 100 percent of our faith is the Lord Himself.
As you proceed through this world below; be loving but be wise. Trust in the Lord completely, and trust in people cautiously. Strive to be the kind of friend that you wish others were. And forgive them when they let you down. Jesus modeled that perfect form of caution, but He also modeled that perfect form of forgiveness. Imitate Him in both regards.