Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Okay, now a follow-up to this post on "forgiving and forgetting" which was itself a follow-up to this mega-post.

I presented three illustrations of grace, through forgiveness and discipline, in action. I hoped to demonstrate that one can forgive an offender but still maintain a disciplinary distance, if you will, in one's relationship with the offender. The illustrations were:

1. My daughter poured coffee grounds all over the kitchen floor. I forgive her, which means I treat her as if she'd never done it. But I move the coffee canister out of her reach so she no longer has access to it.
2. A wife runs up massive credit card debt shopping online. Her husband forgives her, which means he treats her as if she'd never done it. But he nevertheless cancels her credit cards to prevent subsequent offense.
3. A husband is addicted to online pornography. His wife forgives him, which means she treats him as if he never looked at those images, but she nevertheless installs a web filter and monitors his browsing.

So, is this really forgiveness? I'm asking it to myself, so I'm assuming someone else is asking it also. I tried to point out in that previous post that we can't cheapen grace to exclude a disciplinary aspect, but if we are to treat someone as if they'd never hurt us, wouldn't that include opening ourselves up to the possibility of suffering that hurt again?

What we're talking about now is trust. Trust is both the seed and fruit of reconciliation.
You can forgive someone you don't trust, but you can't trust someone you haven't forgiven. Trust takes time.

Actually, that's what trust is. Trust is the offender's repentance plus time.
When someone sins against you, theoretically speaking, you can forgive them immediately. You can respond with grace nearly instantaneously. But in most cases of severe offense, disciplinary action is necessary, and this action is a two-way street. Over time, the discipline "rehabilitates" the offender and cultivates trust in the offended. (This is always assuming, of course, that the offender is truly repentant and the offended is truly forgiving.)

It takes time, but a repentant person can re-create trust between himself and the one he's sinned against. Your mileage may vary.
So grace and forgiveness can be immediately offered; trust and restoration most often cannot be.

To the illustrations again:

1. Our coffee canister is back within reach of my daughter. I was at the point to treat her as if she hadn't spread coffee all over the floor mere moments after she'd done it. But now we are at the point where I really trust she won't do it again. Although I know my daughter will disobey every day (she's reliable like that ;-), it doesn't occur to me to think she'd play with the coffee again. Time grew trust.
2. Some day the concerned husband will trust his wife with the credit cards again.
3. Some day the dishonored wife will not think to see where her husband has been going online. Over time, she will trust that his repentance has stuck.

Trust is repentance plus time.


At 7:48 AM, Blogger judas icarus said...



That's an equation that needs to imbedded in all of our spiritual caluculators! : - )

Very succinct and very simple.

You know that could very well be an apropos series at BCC.... and one that hopefully would not be diluted or made too contemporary... so as to make it Bible-lite!

(Please no... iRepent... iForgive.... with larger than life cardboard cut-outs!)

This particular issue is as old as sin.... ain't it?

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Jared said...

Well, I thought it was pretty good. ;-)

It works "outgoing" too: The more forgiving I am, the more trusting I can become.

It really is an echo of discipleship to Jesus. Our initial trust starts us on the journey, and the longer we go in the spirit of repentance, the more our faith grows. God's forgiveness is sustaining and the longer we walk in repentance, the more trust we will have in Him.

It's just a good deal all around.

At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said.....my illustration, after many years of sobriety (finally), I TRUST my husband now. He has walked the walk, and allowed time to heal us both. it didn't happen overnight. but one day I woke up and the anger and bitterness was gone. and I said thank you GOD, for bringing us through this and we are in trust with each other, and at peace with each other. will I FORGET the pain I suffered,
of course not. But trust, forgiveness on my side,
repentence in action and verbally to all parties harmed (especially to my children and I)on his side, has brought a peace
and a sacredness now to our family that can with God's blessings continue to grow.
as you said it cannot, and
will not, and does not, happen immediately. It takes time.

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Trevor said...

Jared, kudos to you.

Your writing is incredibly articulate...and prolific...

The rate at which you are churning out all these posts is impressive.

Keep 'em comin'

Trevor Davis

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Jared said...

Trevor, thanks so much.

As to my prolific posting:
"Jared Wilson" is actually the singular nom de plume of a gaggle of harried bloggers all typing feverishly in a poorly lit basement in order to produce 4 (or 5) posts a day. Sort of like all those guys who wrote under "Franklin W. Dixon" in the Hardy Boys Series. ;-)


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