If you’ve read the Bible much at all, there is a lot about forgiveness, particularly about Jesus being asked how many times you should forgive someone for a transgression: seventy times seven…or really an unlimited number of times (Matthew 18:22).
In popular business journals and leadership blogs I read how trust must be earned and once lost, it may take years to rebuild.
As a born again Christian, I’m trying to find Jesus’ directions and the connection between forgiveness and trust. The world tells us that once lost, a person has to earn our trust back. So, how long a period of “trusty” behavior is enough? Is it one day, one week, one month, or one year? Perhaps forgiveness is immediate, but what if trust is never rebuilt. Like the husband of a repentant, adulterous wife who says, “I’ve forgiven her, but I’ll never trust her again.” Does that fracture the future relationship?
Recently a friend retold a confidence. It wasn’t particularly damaging, but the principle was that I had asked that it be confidential. I was angry but I didn’t know who to be angry with: myself for trusting, him for revealing a confidence, or the third person for re-telling it. After I calmed down, my friend and I discussed what had happened. He said that he was sorry, that it was wrong of him. Then he asked, “Do you still trust me? It is important to me to know that you still have faith in me.”
I admit my first thought was to never trust him with important information again. But what would that mean for our future friendship? Should I be guarded and not let him in on my life’s details? I made the decision to forgive him, and trust him, right then.
As humans, we are all going to fail at some point and we may lose the trust of another.
The response of the person wronged is important to the future of the relationship. You can choose to never trust again, you can trust after a period of time when trust has been “earned,” or you can choose to both forgive and trust. If I’ve repented and been transformed, would God wipe the slate clean with me in both forgiveness and trust?