Study Notes: Forgiveness and Trust

Pastor Rick Reed
(Metropolitan Bible Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)

The Bible makes a distinction between “forgiveness” and “trust.” I’d suggest the New Testament shows several important differences between the two.

Jesus was willing to forgive anyone.

Luke 23:34a: “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Jesus was not willing to trust everyone.

John 2:23-25: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not *commit* [entrust] himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”

We are commanded to forgive everyone as Christ forgave us.

Colossians 3:13-14: “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity [love], which is the bond of perfectness.”

We are not commanded to trust everyone (especially when it comes to placing them in leadership).

1 Timothy 3:10: “And let these also *first be proved* [tested]; *then* let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.”

Forgiveness must be given even to those who repeatedly sin against us.

Matthew 18:21-22: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until *seventy times seven*.”

Trust is given to those who repeatedly come through for us.

2 Corinthians 8:21-24: “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes *proved* diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you. Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.”

Philippians 2:19-23: “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the *proof* of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.”

Forgiveness should be given fully not in degrees (no holding on to bitterness or malice).

Ephesian 4:31-32: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Trust should be given as in gradually, in degrees.

Matthew 25:21: “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a *few* things, I will make thee ruler over *many* things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

Luke 16:10: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”


1. Forgiveness is given; trust in earned.

2. Even after forgiveness is given, trust must be rebuilt.

3. The rebuilding of trust takes time

– a person must first be faithful in little before being given the chance to be faithful in much. First a “few” things before “many” things.

– trust cannot be separated from credibility; and credibility cannot be separated from a proven track record.

4. It’s possible to forgive someone but to still have reservations in trusting him.