Identified as a Russian proverb and attributed to various people, this aphorism implies that trust has its limits. Or, at least, trust should not be tempted. One of the most common things I ever heard as a chaplain was: “I didn’t come to jail to make friends.” There are also a lot of cards played in jail to pass the time. I think those who have experienced incarceration likely have a great intuitive sense of the meaning of this phrase.            

 Micah 7:5-6     

Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one;

guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace;

for the son treats the father with contempt,

the daughter rises up against her mother,

the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

your enemies are members of your own household.

 

Scripture, at various junctures, points to the untrustworthiness of humankind. (See Isaiah 2:22 and Psalm 146:3 for other examples.) However, these cases are not giving universal instruction, but rather offering lament for the way things are. Micah 7 as a whole speaks of the redemption of Israel, and how part of the brokenness of the people is the inability to trust each other. Verses like those from Isaiah 2 and Psalm 146 speak of the trustworthiness of God, and use humanity as a benchmark. The teaching is not to put your ultimate trust in others, but only in God. With whom, one would infer, you don't need to hedge your bets by "cutting the cards." Such thoughts present challenges to theists and atheists seeking common ground. 

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Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 9th mo. 6, 2017 at 1:04pm

This is good, wise counsel, Glenn. In one of the catacombs outside the city of Rome, there is a drawing of an anchor, which was one of the many symbols of Christ. An anchor moors to something solid and unshifting, something trustworthy; as faith in Christ grounds us in the immutable. Since the experience of being grounded in God does not change over time - over the centuries - but continues forever in the soul's love and obedience to its Maker, it's not surprising that George Fox would have chosen the same symbol for Christ that the first Christians drew in the catacomb: 

My living faith was raised, that I saw all was done by Christ, the life, and my belief was in him. And when at any time my condition was veiled, my secret belief was stayed firm, and hope underneath held me, as an anchor in the bottom of the sea; and anchored my immortal soul to its Bishop, causing it to swim above the sea, the world where all the raging waves, foul weather, tempests, and temptations are. But oh, then did I see my troubles, trials, and temptations more than ever I had done! As the Light appeared, all appeared that is out of the Light, darkness, death, temptations, the unrighteous, the ungodly; all was manifest and seen in the Light (Nickalls, 14).

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