Forgiveness and Trust are Not the Same

Forgiving, forgetting, and trust. These actions would seem to go hand in hand, right? So why do we continue to remember the offense and why do we struggle with trusting again? These questions have plagued me many times. We feel guilty because we can’t forget.

We are dismayed because we confuse trusting God with our situation and trusting people in our situation. 

Forgiving and forgetting is nearly impossible. We are not given a lobotomy as a result of forgiving. Our memories of the offense may remain. In my personal experience with forgiveness, the more I choose it, the less painful the offense becomes to my heart. By choosing forgivenss, I’m more empowered to stop hurt from taking me back down dark paths at every remembrance.

Consequences of the sin remain. God set the law of sowing and reaping from the beginning. Our focus becomes trusting God with the outcome. I’ve heard it said that in forgiveness, we give up our quest for retaliation. We lay our need for vengeance at God’s feet. God is the just Judge. 

“The Bible is clear about two principles: (1) We always need to forgive, but (2) we don’t always achieve reconciliation. Forgiveness is something that we do in our hearts; we release someone from a debt that they owe us. We write off the person’s debt, and she no longer owes us. We no longer condemn her. She is clean. Only one party is needed for forgiveness: me. The person who owes me a debt does not have to ask my forgiveness. It is a work of grace in my heart.”
― Henry Cloud, Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No

How do we reconcile the requirement to forgive with the issue of trusting our offender?

Jesus tells us how we will know if someone is trustworthy.

No guesswork required. We look at the fruit of their change,

A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” ~ Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:17 NLT)

Jesus is clear. Trust is maintained and regained through action. Matt 7:17

Jesus is clear here. Trust is maintained and regained through action. Does that make it a bit easier for you? It does me. Trust is not automatic. It is earned through the process of producing the fruit of repentance. 

“Many people are too quick to trust someone in the name of forgiveness and not make sure that the other is producing “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).  Forgive, but guard your heart until you see sustained change.”
― Henry Cloud, Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No

Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to allow the opportunity to regain your trust?

We can allow the process to move forward with peace. The Holy Spirit will lead our hearts by helping us recognize their new fruit or the absence of fruit. Take a deep breath. We are not alone on the restoration road.

May I leave you with good news? Forgiveness is expected because God knows it is one of the most healing things we can do for our heart – our soul. He recognizes forgiveness as the starting point on our path to restoration. On trust – it can be regained after it has been lost. I have lived this out. I have learned to trust again. As Dr. Cloud says, “Forgive, but guard your heart until you see sustained change.”

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