What does it mean to be “trustworthy?” At the most basic level, it means to be worthy of someone’s trust. Another way to say that might be “faithful” or “dependable”; however, I think there’s much more to being trustworthy as a scout or as a Christian [note: you don’t have to be “Christian” to be a Scout; however, our Scouting families, at our troop, are Christian; therefore, we offer additional insights based on our shared faith during our devotionals].
In the older editions of the Boy Scout Handbook (from 1911 to 1972) the Scout Law is explained in a little detail. The old wording for “Trustworthy” went like this: “A Scout’s honor is to be trusted. If he were to violate his honor by telling a lie or by cheating or by not doing exactly a given task, when trusted on his honor, he may be directed to hand over his Scout badge.” Wow, that’s serious stuff! Over time, the wording has been changed to the point where the 2009 wording is “A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him.” Not bad, but its certainly less challenging than the “old” version.
In the Scouting program, we depend on each other to make the program work. If we can’t be counted on to do what we say we’ll do, then the program falls to pieces – we wouldn’t be able to make plans or carry them out.
At home, your parents depend on you to be trustworthy – to do what you’ve committed to do. Maybe to complete assignments on time and correctly. Maybe to do the dishes or take out the trash. If you’ve got chores or duties, you need to do them – it’s partly a matter of obedience, but it’s also showing that you can be counted on consistently.
When we search the bible for the word “trustworthy” we find it used in a bunch of ways:
- Exodus 18:21 – But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. (trustworthy = hate dishonest gain, worthy to be leaders over other people)
- Psalm 19:7 – The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (trustworthy = does what it says it will do – consistently, reliably)
- Psalm 111:7 – The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. (statements made and directions given can be counted on to work and to be fair)
- Psalm 145:13 – Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. (trustworthy = can be counted on for a long time, not just the short term)
- Proverbs 11:13 – A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. (trustworthy = honest, confidential, wise in handling sensitive information or issues)
- Proverbs 12:22 – The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. (tells the truth)
- Proverbs 25:13 – Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master. (trustworthy people are admired because they serve others dependably)
- Daniel 6:4 – At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.
Being recognized as someone who is “trustworthy” carries a responsibility to be consistent. Can you be trustworthy with some things and not with others? Can you be more or less trustworthy on Tuesdays?
So the first point of the Scout Law is that a Scout IS trustworthy. The key word of the sentence is, literally “IS”. We don’t say “will try to be”, or “will work at being” trustworthy, we say “IS” trustworthy. As people created by God, are we trustworthy in God’s eyes?
You see, we’ve sinned against Him – we’ve broken His commandments. He loves us despite our lack of trustworthiness. In the bible, it says:
- Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
- Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
So, we’ve been un-trustworthy, but because He’s truly trustworthy, we can be forgiven if we confess our sins to Him, and then change our ways, learn from our mistakes (by sinning no more, by working on that “trustworthiness”) and place our trust in Him.
We need to build our trustworthiness each day in how we act with other people, and how we approach God’s directions for our lives. We know that we may sin, but God has a plan for us to deal with that sin. Trust God, talk to your parents, read the Bible, behave consistently with other people and you’re on that road to honoring that point of the Scout Law.