Forgiveness & Trust

Jesus suffered many of the abuses experienced by victims of domestic violence. His response can serve as a model to help us forgive our abusers. The way Jesus forgave also helps us to deal with issues of trust.

As we saw previously, the Bible tells us that forgiving an abuser does not mean we must entrust ourselves to him, or allow ourselves to be abused by someone who is likely to harm us again. Even though Jesus forgave his abusers and prayed for them, the Bible says he knew that all people are fundamentally untrustworthy:

Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. (John 2:23-25, NIV)

This scripture reminds us that Jesus recognized that we are all basically untrustworthy because we are humans with sin natures (even forgiven sinners, like Christians). It may allow us to see our disappointments, hurts, and unmet expectations in a different light. We live in a world full of sin. But thank God, we have a Savior who came to turn our hurts into victories, and to turn around everything for our ultimate benefit (Romans 8:37 and 8:28).

The scripture in John 2 also points out that we, ourselves, are untrustworthy. We have all made mistakes and outright sins, and cannot point our fingers at others. This humbling thought can make it a little easier to forgive those who have betrayed our trust.

Jesus knew how untrustworthy we are and yet he loved us enough to die for us. What a wonderful thought: God still loves us, though we are unworthy. This fact makes God's grace and love even more amazing!

Jesus was able to forgive and to love people, though he did not entrust himself to them. We see that love and trust are not the same thing. We can act in love toward someone without entrusting ourselves to him. This might mean being kind or praying for someone, but keeping our distance. In his book, Love Must Be Tough (Word Publishing, 1996), Christian psychologist Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family says that often the kindest thing we can do for abusers is to maintain strong boundaries with them and to hold them accountable for the consequences of their actions (see pages 17-19, 57, 132, 159). We can forgive an abuser while still protecting our safety.


Discussion Questions:

1. What, for you, has been the hardest part about forgiving?

2. What are some signs that a person is trustworthy?

Copyright 200
7   Judy Kennedy