We do not necessarily need to become able or willing to trust a person whom we have forgiven

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From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 14 – How to forgive people in practical terms – some advice on what to do and how to go about it

We alluded to this earlier, but it is worth elaborating on.  We are not under any duty to trust the person whom we have forgiven.  To be wary of that person, or even to directly expect them to wrong you again, or to lie to you, or to take advantage of you, is not an indication that you have not properly forgiven them.  The Bible never tells you to trust those whom you have forgiven.  Indeed, far from telling us to trust wrongdoers, the Bible never actually tells us to trust anybody at all. 

On the contrary, we are to be cautious with all of the people that we do not know.  That means anybody who has not yet proved, by their consistent faithfulness and reliability, that they are worthy of trust.  Trust has to be earned, and over a sufficiently long period of time to be sure that it is warranted. 

That applies to the people we meet outside in the world, but also to those who claim to be Christians, and even to those who really are Christians, unless and until they have proved their trustworthiness over a period of time.  Even then, any trust that we do show, even to those people, is neither absolute nor unconditional.  We are only to trust them up to a point, the precise level of which will depend on all the circumstances. 

To do otherwise, or to go further than that, would be evidence of your naivety, not the genuineness of your forgiveness.  How then can it be that some people think that a willingness to trust the wrongdoer is essential in order to prove that one’s forgiveness of him was genuine?  The Bible never says that, or even implies it.  Indeed, it tells us to do the direct opposite, even with those who have never wrongedus, let alone those who already have.

Therefore, if you have been wronged and now feel wary of that person and don’t trust them enough to take any chances with them, or perhaps even to have any dealings with them at all, please do not allow yourself to be told that that, in itself, proves that you are being ‘unforgiving’.  At least, do not allow that accusation to be made on that basis alone.  The likelihood is that you are simply showing common sense by being wary.  If so, you should continue to be so, until it is proved that you don’t need to be.

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