Remember Charles Shultz’s Peanut Cartoon? With Lucy’s record of yanking away the football at the last minute, should Charlie Brown trust her to hold it in place for him to kick? Here’s a more pertinent question. Should we trust again after being betrayed?
First, it’s worth noting that love, trust, forgiveness, and reconciliation are separate issues. Heaping them together keeps people from forgiving. We’re called to love everyone, even our enemies. We are to forgive as Christ forgave us. Thankfully, forgiveness is between us and God. It doesn’t depend on the recipient’s knowledge or cooperation. But it takes two to restore trust.
Three Biblical Examples of Forgiving Without Trusting
- David forgave King Saul—but did not trust him (I Samuel 19).
- Jesus offered forgiveness to all—but did not trust people (John 2:23-25).
- Paul forgave—but did not trust the Judaizers or Alexander the metal worker (Galatians 4:17; 2 Timothy 4:14-15).
When we forgive, we cancel the debt someone owes us. I picture turning them over to the bill collector—God. They become His problem, not ours. In forgiving, I’m saying, “This is what they did and what it cost me. I release them and what they did to You to deal with appropriately. And I look to You to meet my needs.”
God calls us to forgive because He’s forgiven us (Colossians 3:13). But forgiveness doesn’t necessarily lead to restored trust.
Trust is the “firm belief in the reliability … of someone or something.” Once broken, it can only be restored when dependability is rebuilt. A chair that crumbles when sat on is not fit for seating. A person who repeatedly proves unreliable has no right to demand trust.
We know godly sorrow leads to repentance or change (2 Corinthians 7:10). If the one who wronged me denies his wrongdoing, blames others for it, or minimizes the damage, then I cannot assume that he is trustworthy.A chair that crumbles when sat on is not fit for seating. A person who repeatedly proves unreliable has no right to demand #trust. #Wisdom Click To Tweet
Biblical Examples of Restored Trust
Should a woman ever trust the man who took advantage of her and had her husband killed (2 Samuel 12)? When the prophet Nathan confronted King David about his hideous sin, David confessed and took responsibility for his actions. He penned Psalms admitting his sin and acknowledging God’s cleansing. Bathsheba could trust David after he turned from his sin and returned to God.
Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery (Genesis 37-50). When they appeared in Egypt needing food, Joseph put them through an elaborate series of tests to expose their true character. Only after they passed the tests did he reveal his identity to them.
Before You Trust Again—Watch and Wait
Our actions reveal our hearts. Don’t coach an unfaithful person on the change you’re looking for. Some want the benefits of a restored relationship without the work of transformation. True heart change will show in attitudes and actions.
Being the recipient of God’s mercy and grace reminds us to show compassion even to those that don’t deserve it. What they owe us can’t compare with what we owe Jesus who suffered the hell we deserved so that we could have His heaven.
Because Jesus meets all my needs, I no longer need to collect debts or force relationships that are unhealthy. The motivation to restore trust, comes not from a need for this relationship, but from a desire to honor Christ.
Should we forgive that person who hurt us? Absolutely. Should we trust them? That depends on them. Have they shown repentance and change like King David and Joseph’s brothers? Or are they behaving like Lucy with Charlie Brown?