Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"In God We Trust"

by Mark Larson

“The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins… As a result, Secretary Chase instructed James Pollock, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to prepare a motto, in a letter dated November 20, 1861: ‘Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins’… IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin… A law passed by the 84th Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by the President on July 30, 1956, the President approved a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States.” – “Fact Sheet: Currency and Coins. History of ‘In God We Trust’” - the United States Department of the Treasury.

Is “In God We Trust” still our motto in America today? Though the phrase may be found on U.S. dollars and coins are Americans truly putting their trust in God? With an economic crisis looming, it will be interesting to observe the behavior of the citizens of our society in the months to come.

The Uncertainty of Riches

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17, NASB). Our confidence as a nation cannot be sustained by riches alone. We who are rich (Yes, we are rich!), who tend to think of ourselves as the last world “superpower” equate our enormous wealth with great power. So when economic challenges or financial hardships arise, many Americans feel unstable and insecure. Yet, why should it? If God is truly who we trust, we will put our trust in God instead of trusting in wealth or in the government to fix everything and supply all our needs.

Riches are uncertain. Even the most clever investor or hard worker who stores his money wisely runs the risk of loss and disappointment. The truth is, the only “sure investment” comes from putting our complete trust in God who will continue to provide for our needs as we serve Him faithfully throughout life. “Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Mat. 6:31-33).

We have a responsibility to provide for our own (1 Tim. 5:8). To make sure our family has enough to eat, we must work (2 Thes. 3:10). Yet, no matter how hard we work, we must still put our trust in God and understand our dependency in Him every step of the way. As a result, we will not fear or be anxious about our future with the help of God.

Money Doesn’t Solve All Our Problems

There is a tendency to believe that if we had lots of money, we would be so much happier and would have no worries. Yet, no amount of money can solve all our problems. Just look at the millionaires (or billionaires) in our society and the heartache and misery that they often experience in their families and the deadness of their spiritual lives. True happiness can come only when we trust in God and follow His wisdom. “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver” (Prov. 16:16).

Again, in what or who do we place our trust? Instead of believing the lie that “life is good” only when we have lots of wealth and material possessions, let us recognize that life can only be good when we have a right relationship with the Lord. We Americans have a hard time with the phrase: “And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim. 6:8), when often we want and expect so much more. “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity” (Eccl. 5:10). There is a real danger in having too much wealth or too many possessions. Instead of looking to our money and things as the source of joy and security, let us seek “the balance” that will help to keep us near to our Lord: “Two things I asked of Thee, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, lest I be full and deny Thee and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:7-9).

What Do You Treasure in Your Heart?

What we treasure the most in our hearts demonstrates what we trust in the most: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mat. 6:19-21).

If God is indeed the one in whom you trust, then God will be given top priority in your heart and life. Total commitment to the Lord – to worship Him, to obey Him, to teach your family the gospel, etc. will be demonstrated by putting God’s will above your concern for riches or material possessions. Courage of heart does not come from the amount of money in our bank account, from the things we own, or the houses we live in, it comes from the Lord.

It is God We Must Serve and in God We Must Trust

Though society has forgotten its motto “In God We Trust,” may we as God’s children never, ever forget it. It is easy to make compromises and over time lose our sense of dependency on God. Let us always remember who it is that we serve and who it is that deserves our trust from day to day: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mat. 6:24).

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