VIII.13. Is Forgiveness Without Trust Really Forgiveness?

Question:  This question came up in my Bible study last night. If I forgive a person but do not trust that person, have I really forgiven them?

Answer:  When we compare "forgiveness" to "trust" we are not comparing equals. Forgiveness is an unconditional act, performed on the basis of what Christ has done for us, as we see in Ephesians 4:32. Romans 5:8 lets us know,

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for (or forgave) us."

We are to forgive even when the offender perhaps has not apologized and is still offending; or has done some really terrible thing to ourselves or our family. But, are we to continue to allow ourselves, our family, or our ministry to continue in harm's way. No! This is where trust is revealed.

Paul had a situation in his life and he warns his "son in the faith," Timothy, about it in 2 Timothy 4:14-18.

"Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: (Paul does not seek revenge): the Lord reward him according to his works. (14)"

He warns Timothy in Verse 15,

"Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.. (Look out! Don't be trusting!)

In Verse 16, Paul reveals that when he attempted to defend his cause, no one stood with him. However, he does not hold that against them,

"...I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge".

In Verse 17, Paul reveals where trust should be placed,

"...the Lord stood with me...and I was delivered out of the mouth of the Lion."

Here, I think Paul is referring to Alexander the coppersmith with a bit of humor. Verse 18 shows that Paul wasn't really worried.

"And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work..."

This was just a little lesson to a young preacher.

In summary, forgiveness is unconditional; but, trust is earned through observable, trustworthy actions on the part of the one forgiven. Our Lord, Himself, in Matthew 10:16,17a lets us know we're not on a "walk in the park."

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless (or innocent) as doves. But beware of men..."

You ask "If I forgive a person, but do not trust that person, have I really forgiven them? Because you have to look for signs of trustworthiness, does not mean that you have not forgiven them. Their part is to be trustworthy. Trust has to be earned.

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