Forgiveness and Trust

Richard asks:

A friend of mine asks: “have u truely forgiven someone if you still
cannot trust them?”

Good question: what say ye? “#”:

Forgiveness does not necessarily beget trust. Forgiveness simply means that I will not hold past wrongs against the offender. It does not necessarily mean I trust him to not make the same mistake again, particularly if that individual has a history of repeating the same mistake.

A friend of mine does something that is harmful to me in some way. Say, for instance, he borrows my car and wrecks it. He asks my forgiveness, and I grant it. Fellowship is restored, and we continue to be friends. To my knowledge he has no past history of wrecking vehicles, so I’m willing to give him another chance. He borrows my car again, and again he wrecks it, begging forgiveness, which I grant. He is my friend, and I wish to keep him as a my friend. However, he is beginning to develop a pattern of carelessness, and so I may be less willing to allow him to borrow my vehicle again. It does not mean I have not forgiven him, just that he now has a history of not being responsible.

It is possible to forgive yet not fully trust. It is simply recognizing that consequences follow actions. One mistake is simply that – a mistake. More than begins to be a pattern, something that must be acknowledged in your dealings with that individual. I may not trust this individual to drive my car again, at least not without appropriate supervision, but I can forgive him by not throwing it in his face or harboring any ill will against him. We can still have good fellowship. And when he demonstrates that he is again trustworthy, he can drive my car again.

4 thoughts on “Forgiveness and Trust”

  1. Interesting thoughts. I agree with the logic, however when you look in the Bible, God forgives those who repent. He will not forgive those who are not turning away from their sin and to God. While we may forgive our friends even though we know they will do the same thing again and again, God requires a repentant heart. At the same time, God does not refuse to forgive people because of how many times they messed up. Anyways. that’s my thoughts. Great blog!

  2. I agree with you, Michael, and your comments are a great supplement to my argument. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that God does not forgive the unrepentant? Does that mean we should follow that same example? I know I am sometimes guilty of extending forgiveness even before it is requested, partly for my own sanity so I don’t begin to foster bitterness against that individual. I don’t believe this is wrong of me to do so, considering that I am not God, Who is unable to be bitter. And it is such a thrill to have someone request forgiveness from me and be able to say, “Already done.” To watch the look of relief on their face makes it worth it and makes me glad I was able to forgive. I only wish I was able to do so all the time.

  3. Very interesting thread. It is an issue that touches me on a personal level. I am hesitant to state that you should give forgiveness before it is requested. After all, it is something you are offering the offender, not really for yourself. If the offender is not repentant – or sorry, as the lay-folk prefer! – then is there any obligation to forgive? I don’t think so – however, that being said, we have to let things go and not be consumed by others’ bad behavior. Then we engage in bitterness, which destroys ourselves and can hurt those around us.

    I also think you can forgive and not forget – that is a bit of a fallacy, anyway. I can forgive those who have done me harm, but to take that risk again….? If I decide not to, there is no sin in that. We have been given rational minds for that reason.

    Thanks for the mental exercise!

  4. _Should_ we forgive if forgiveness has not been requested? I don’t think it is a requirement to we do so. I was just saying that often I extend it anyway so that _I_ do not become bitter. It is my way of dealing with the pain of being hurt and harboring feelings against another that I should not have.

    ‘Forgive and forget’ is, I think, a very misunderstood concept. Forgetting injury by another is not really what most people think it is – literally having no memory of the committed wrong. Forgetting, in this case, is simply you saying that you will not bring it up again in such a way as to hold it over an individual. When I say that the harm is forgotten, it means I won’t use it against you, will not try to manipulate you with feelings of shame or guilt because of something offensive you committed against me. That is really what I think ‘forgive and forget’ means.

Have anything to add to the conversation?