Trust God and Others with Who You Really Are


Bill Thrall, Bruce Nicol, and John Lynch

NavPress, 2003, 2220 pp.   ISBN 1-57683-446-8

Are we seeking to please God or trust Him?  It makes all the difference, according to the authors.  Their descriptions of the causes and results of wearing masks are very clear and helpful.  The grace solution paints an encouraging alternative, yet I felt a bit foggy on practical implementation. 


“God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another.” Shakespeare, Hamlet (9)


“We are all performers....  Because of sin, we’ve lost confidence..., so we feel compelled to hide and put on a mask.” (13)


“Many of us are hurting.  We harbor painful junk that is eating us alive.  And we live in a ‘family’ that sends this unspoken message: ‘I prefer that you be who I want you to be rather than who you are, if it’s all the same to you.’  ...the mask goes on and the charade begins—and everyone, everyone, loses.” (14-15)  “We feel alone....”  “We fear exposure....”  “We put on a mask and begin bluffing.”  (15)


“Our mask-wearing has an incredibly negative impact on those we influence.” (20)  “Sadly, cruelly, our masks deceive us into believing that we can hide our true selves.  Not so.  In time, others can usually see what we’re trying to hide.  No matter how beautifully formed, our masks eventually present us as tragic figures...because masks always crack.” (21)


“Almost all of us, at some time, resort to appearances, to mask-wearing.”  (22)


This book is intended to help you reveal your true face, the one God made, and in which He desires to see His reflection.  (23)


“Most of us are in the dark about how we got like this.” (28)  “Sin sets the ball in motion.  Someone sins against someone else, and that act of sin evokes within us an involuntary response.”  (29)


“If we do the sinning, our involuntary response is called guilt.  If someone else sins against us, our involuntary response is called hurt.”  “Our involuntary responses will progress to inevitable effects, unleashing a new depth of pain, inner turmoil, and mask-wearing.” (29)


“But our futile disguise simply tells others we have problems.” (30)


“Guilt is a good thing.”  “It roars to life in order to make us aware of sin we have committed.” (30)  “The decision to ignore our sin creates unresolved sin...that quietly spreads poison throughout our bloodstream”  “It causes a nagging sense in the heart that doesn’t go away.”  (31)


“Guilt and hurt turn into shame, blame, fear, denial, and anger.”  (34)


“When we are unable or unwilling to resolve the sin within us, we become deeply sensitized toward our own sin...and others’ sins.”  “Sadly, the one with the keen sensitivity to sin is often the one without the ability do deal with that sin!”  “Our sensitivity...causes us to create legalistic and controlling environments.”  (50-51)


“The degree to which we wear a mask in our key relationships is the degree to which our character development will be thwarted.”  “Environments without grace retain and multiply unresolved sin issues.”  (56)  [Without grace] “almost everyone hides something.  Hiding becomes an unspoken, almost unconscious way of life.” (57)


“The more influence we have, the more we are tempted to hide our true self for fear we will lose that influence.”  (57)


“Those who have never learned how to apply the healing Jesus brings to their lives will always hide their sin.” (58)  “Hiding is really a dangerous plan.  Masks never work.”  “When we live or work in environments that encourage hiding, we don’t feel safe.” (59)


“Hiding drains us.  When we hide, we can never rest.” (60)  “We believe that a major cause of burnout in Americans is not overwork, over-scheduling, or overactivity.  It is bitterness.” (61)


“Unresolved sin always causes preoccupation with our own lives.  ...our unresolved sin just keeps triggering self-centeredness.”  “As a result, we are unable to offer love to others.”  “...we are porcupines to be around.” (67) 


“When we chose to don a mask, we inadvertently hide our heart and our self from what we most desperately need—the love of others and God’s love.  Unless we allow others to meet our needs, we cannot receive their love.” (68)


“We often begin to make a string of poor life choices, causing us even more harm.” (69)


“When we have been hurt or have hurt another, a deep need to be validated grows within us.  We must, at all costs, hold onto our ‘rightness,’ and so we strive to control every area in our life.  Control validates our ‘rightness’ and soothes our anger.” (72)


“Controllers create a performance-driven environment....” (73)  No control environment is spiritually healthy.” (74)


A reflection exercise asks you to 1) think of a time when you acted in sin or a sin was committed against you, 2) to describe the sin, 3) if you haven’t resolved the guilt or hurt, to describe why, and 4) examine what specific life patterns ensnared you as a result.  (77-79)


The author suggests that two alternative motives are “pleasing God” or “trusting God.”  (83)  Pleasing God depends on our good intentions – own abilities of sincerity, perseverance, courage, diligence, etc., and always falls short.  We are unable to live up to our motives.  We fall short, unable to control or manage our sin.  (83-86)


Alternatively, trusting God depends on grace.  These people are vitally alive, imperfect but authentic with a level of integrity, maturity, love, laughter, freedom, etc.  (86-88)


We must first trust God in order to please Him.  Pleasing is a byproduct of trust.  (Heb 11) (89)


Motives result in values and values result in actions.


“If my motive is Trusting God, then my value will be living out of who God says I am, and my action will be standing with God, with my sin in front of us, working on it together.” (93)


“If we want to determine our real motives, our values and actions will flush them out.” (97)


[Good intentions] “creates a works-based, performance-driven relationship with God.  [Grace] “places the responsibility on the resources of God.” (99)  “Trust opens the way ...for God to bring us to maturity.  If we do not trust, we don’t mature, because our focus is messed up: We’re still trying to change, to become godly.” (99)


“Humility requires trust.”  “This is why we define humility as trusting God and others with me.” (110) 


“To resolve our sin issues we must begin trusting who God says we are.” (113)


“Our efforts will not make us godly.”  “Grace teaches us to trust that God can handle our sin, and only God.” (116)


“Striving leaves us dysfunctional and immature because it creates hiddenness.”  “Grace creates authenticity.” (118)  “Grace wonderfully reorients all our relationships.”  “We stand in front of each other, true-faced.  Safety, protection, and love characterize the relationships ... rather than mistrust, deceit, and guardedness.  We see one another as saints who sin, rather than as sinners who are saved.” (121)


“Love, the first gift of grace, acts as a solvent to lift our masks.”  “We learn how to love only when we first learn how to receive the love of God and others.” (132)


“If we withhold our needs, we can’t receive the love others have for us.  And, if we don’t know love, we’ll be stuck with open wounds that will not heal....”  (136)


“Repentance is a gift of God’s grace because your repentance resolves nothing without grace.  Grace alone resolves sin.  Only the power of the cross can break a pattern of sinful behavior.” (171)


Forgiveness is the most mysterious gift of grace.  “Forgiveness breaks down walls, frees hearts, mends countries, restores families, and draws out the best in us.”  “It is more powerful than any weapon, government, or wealth.” (173)


“Forgiveness has an order—we must initiate the vertical transaction with God before we move into the horizontal transaction with others.” (180)


“How will we know if we’ve forgiven someone?  When we know we can offer that person our love.” (181)


“Any change that takes place in us comes from maturing into the person we already are—much like a caterpillar matures into a butterfly.” (193) 


“We depend upon God and his power and resources.  We are free to trust him for repentance.  We are free to trust him so we can forgive others and be forgiven.” (194-5)


“Philip Yancey asks, ‘Is it absurd to believe that one human being, a tiny dot on a tiny planet, can make a difference in the history of the universe?’  According to the Bible, that’s exactly how God designed the kingdom....”  (200-01)


“We are all performers.  One question remains: Will you perform to gain the acceptance and pleasure of your audience—and always feel that you have failed?  Or will you perform out of a heart of trusting delight, knowing you have already pleased your Audience?” (208)