Forgiveness is at the core of the Christian life. To accept Christ’s love is to accept His forgiveness. The cross is the picture of forgiveness, and because of that, those who have been forgiven by God should forgive others. This is why we are told to be “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
THE BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FORGIVING AND TRUSTING
There is a big difference between forgiving and trusting. Forgiveness has to do with the past. Trust has to do with the future.
Forgiveness is given for something that has already happened. Someone has sinned against you, and you forgive them. You let those things go. You do not bring those things up again to them. You consider it over and done with.
Trusting has to do with the future. Trusting is a belief in the reliability, ability, or strength of someone or something. While we are called to forgive everyone, we are not called to trust everyone. The reason is that not everyone is trustworthy.
NOT EVERYONE SHOULD BE TRUSTED
Not everyone should be trusted because not everyone is trustworthy. Jesus even talks about this in a parable. Luke 16:10 says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” In other words, if we find someone who is dishonest in one thing, he is probably dishonest in many things. And if he is dishonest, he is not to be trusted.
Even God works like this. He doesn’t just hand over the keys of ministry to someone new to the faith. In I Timothy 3:6 it says that a pastor elder is not to be a novice. Why? They must prove that they are not just claiming conversion for the time being, but that they really are followers of Christ. That is proven over time. Jesus talks about testing others in their faithfulness in small things before you hand big things over to them (Luke 19:17).
THE CONSEQUENCE OF ASSUMING FORGIVENESS EQUALS TRUST
There are Christians who have wrongfully believed that forgiveness and trust are the same – if I am truly to forgive her, I need to trust her to not sin against me again. But trust is something that is proved. Forgiven people must prove that they are not going back to the sin, but that God has changed them.
Making the mistake of equating forgiveness with trust can have grave consequences. It can cause those who are vulnerable or previously abused to return to a dangerous place to be sinned against again. It can give trust to those who still have not proven their integrity.
The other end of this idea is never trusting someone again. The reality is we all want a second chance, and God has given all of us second chances. Eventually we need to let people prove themselves. The question is when do we know when the right time to do that is?
First is recognizing that trust takes time. As part of its definition trust has the idea of reliability. That means to do something or be something consistently over time. If someone has been untrustworthy in the past, we should not just to label him as trustworthy because he has done right once.
Second, pray for wisdom. God talks about praying for wisdom all through Scripture. James 3:17-18 tells us that if we pray for wisdom, God will give it to us. We can pray that we don’t delay trust for someone who has earned it, and that we will not give it too early to those who are not trustworthy yet.
Are you willing to forgive others for their past sins against you and others? Do you give trust too quickly to those who have not earned it? Do you withhold trust from those who have proven themselves over time? Are you praying for wisdom to know when to trust others?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.