Forgiveness and Trust

Beauty & Hurt

The other day the Bible School students in Mike’s class were discussing the concept of forgiveness and trust. A belief surfaced that the two are companion terms, meaning that once you forgive, you will trust.

What do you think?

My experiences have been otherwise. I’ve been hurt in the past and have had to forgive, which I have often found to be a process and not merely expended breath with words attached. And even after having forgiven, I don’t automatically trust the one(s) I forgave.

Do you?

A couple personal examples:

1) The robbery: After our house was broken into and many valuable things taken, I had to learn to love the people in this village again through the process of forgiveness. It’s a smaller pueblo and basically everyone knows everyone, and everything. It’s safe to say that most know who robbed us, but naturally will protect their own.

As outsiders, we therefore had to forgive the local people in general. Does that mean we trust them? Do we leave our doors open? Not at all. We have four dogs, lock up our house and gate, taking whatever measures necessary to protect the house when we are gone for any length of time.

2) Then there is the sewing machine incident. This past month, while we were gone for two weeks working on the coast, I asked the lady who works for us to please come to the house each morning to feed the dogs, check on things, then come back in the evening to turn a few lights on, making it appear occupied. She did that. And something else.

She went into the cabinet in my craft room and helped herself to my sewing machine. She doesn’t even know how to use one! In fact, this simple Indian woman knows almost zero about anything mechanical.

When I took it out a few days ago to sew, I noticed that the bobbin door was missing. I found it, hidden, and with some effort, carefully snapped it back in place. It had obviously been taken off forcefully by one unfamiliar with its working.

I was angry, and felt my trust in her betrayed. First of all, because she went snooping! Secondly, because my sewing machine is a treasure to me, a 2008 Mother’s Day gift from my kids and my husband, and as far as I know cannot be serviced here locally, should it break.

I confronted her on it, explaining to her that I was unhappy with what she had done and that she had betrayed the confidence I had put in her. She apologized profusely, gave me the reasons for giving in to her temptations to touch it, then asked me to please forgive her.

I did. (Much easier to do when there is no lasting damage.) I told her I will put this incident behind me, like water that flows downstream. Yet there is a measure of trust lost. I believe that trust can be rebuilt, but only with time and proof – on her part.

Personal experience, although real, should be balanced by the teachings of the Bible. I’ll use here the same example my husband used with his students: Joseph. He related how Joseph had to forgive his brothers – which he did.

So why did he put them through the testings of hidden goblets and keeping a brother behind? Was he toying with them? Was he being malicious? Or was it a way to see if he could now trust them? After all, if they had been capable of leaving a brother for dead then lying to dad about it, could Joseph, as ruler, trust their actions and their word?

Another scriptural factor is salvation. We are forgiven by God the moment we repent of our sins and ask for His forgiveness. But does that mean that God trusts us? Don’t we have to prove our trustworthiness through paths of obedience and faith? “You’ve been faithful with a few things, now I will trust you with more” says Jesus (Matthew 25:21).

That’s my take. What’s yours?

2 thoughts on “Forgiveness and Trust

  1. I think that trust is earned, so when trust is broken that person would need to make choices to prove that they are trustworthy.

    Many Christians get in trouble because they believe naively that loving someone = trusting them so they start off trusting people 100% when they first meet them (because we are commanded to love and if we believe that trust = love) and then are so hurt when that trust is proven untrue. Only God is %100 trustworthy.

    I believe that it was Dan Allender who said something to the effect that the opposite of trust is not mistrust but…and I can’t remember the but…I’ll have to look that up…

    When I meet you, I have no idea if you are trustworthy…blindly trusting someone squelches my ability to use my discernment. I disclose a little bit, see what you do with that, and build… Others, I determine quite early on to not be trustworthy or only partially trustworthy, so I choose to be wise and cunning (Matt 10:16). I still enjoy them, I love them…but I choose wisely not to share certain parts of myself with them.

    Forgiving someone gives me more discernment in knowing what boundaries to set with them…ie. love covers a multitude of sins vs. speaking the truth in love etc.

  2. Hello my friend 🙂

    Pastor Bunney used to give the illustration of someone playing a “joke” on you by calling you over, watching you put your hand against the door frame then slamming your fingers in the door jam. Laughing and apologizing for it, they promise they’re very sorry & will never do it again. At that point, you may forgive them, but will you place your hand on the door frame again when they’re around? Probably not. You may forgive (their intent to hurt you) but their actions make trusting them (their ability to hurt you again) difficult.
    I wish I had an “answer” but this is something I think we all- at a base level- struggle with. Not only in our walk with other human beings on this earth but with a God who seemingly loves & cares for us yet sometimes by His actions (perceived, expected, etc) cause us to wonder what He’s doing…
    Not an easy task- but when you get it all figured out, publish it here! 😉 Love you!


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