When someone has violated the faith that another person once placed in them, some conscientious Christians find themselves struggling with trust issues. They want to be forgiving, they want to forget the past, but still, they struggle with restoring trust to the offending party. Perhaps the following thoughts will help the struggling saint.
It should be remembered that it is the Enemy of our Souls who comes and lays false guilt upon us by suggesting that we are not a good person if we struggle with trust issues.
Normally, most people accept others at face value, until a person has said, or done, something that violates trust. When that happens, it is good to hold the offending person accountable, and insist they prove they are trustworthy once more. There is no need to feel guilty about wanting proof.
When Peter betrayed Jesus by denying Him three times, Christ held him accountable. It was with a look, but that look brought sorrow to Peter’s heart. “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Luke 22:61).
While Jesus still loved Peter, and forgave him for his acts of betrayal, the Lord also insisted that Peter prove himself to be trustworthy in the future. This is an important concept to grasp, for a good reason.
The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about cheap grace. Grace is cheapened when a person does not have to prove they are sorry, and can be trusted in the future, once they have hurt someone.
Peter deeply wounded Jesus.
Jesus held Peter accountable, and forgave him. But, the Lord also insisted Peter prove his trustworthiness in the future.
Consider the process that Jesus employed to help Peter prove himself.
First, Jesus sent word that He still cared for Peter. On the day of the Lord’s resurrection, an angel told some ladies to “Go tell the disciples, and Peter, that Jesus is going into Galilee” (Mark 16:7).
Second, Jesus met with Peter and began to talk to him. “Peter, do you love me.” Three times Peter was asked, “Do you really love me”, for three times Peter had betrayed and denied Christ (John 21:17).
Jesus did not immediately say, “Peter, all is forgiven, and forgotten. I trust you completely once more.”
No, no. There was a process whereby Peter had to be tested to prove that Jesus could trust Him.
So, they met and talked. And then, later, Peter was found praying in an upper room (Acts 1:12-14).
After that, the chance came for Peter to preach Christ, and declare Him publicly to be Lord and Savior. It was on the Day of Pentecost that Peter proved he could once more be trusted (Acts 2:14-43).
Because Peter had confessed the wound he inflicted on Christ, because Peter wept over his sin, because Peter longed to be reconciled, and because Peter seized the opportunity to be found faithful, Jesus said to Himself, in essence,
“I can trust this man. He is a rock upon whom I can build my church. He will feed my sheep.”
“Peter, you have proved yourself.”
The conclusion is that a person must earn trust, once it is violated. It is not something automatically given again.
Beyond that, the heart of the Christian, your heart, and my heart, must not accept false guilt from the Enemy because we have a natural struggle with trust. That struggle to trust afresh after being hurt is a Divine impulse, though the Enemy would have us to think otherwise.
My dear Christian brother, or sister in Christ, do not feel badly for struggling with trust issues, and wanting someone to prove themselves, if they have hurt you. It is a biblical concept. Indeed, a person who has violated the trust that was placed in them should want to move heaven and earth to prove they are sorry, and are fundamentally and forever different.
Let a person “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Cor. 8:8; 13:5; Gal. 6:4).
I hope this helps.
From my heart to yours, in Christ.