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.
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?