Q: I understand that the Bible teaches that we must forgive those who sin against us. Does forgiveness demand that we fully trust that person again?
A: As can be seen in Matthew 18:21-35, Christians must be willing to continually forgive our fellow man when they sin against us. Nevertheless, the New Testament does not suggest that we “forgive and forget”; the master in Matthew 18:32-34 demands repayment of the debt owed by the unforgiving servant after he was originally “forgiven,” indicating that even if the master were willing to no longer hold the debt against the servant at the beginning, it was not entirely forgotten.
Instead, as with God, so we are to “remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). There is a difference: to not remember is to remove from active, conscious memory, and refers to how we treat people; we do not hold past transgressions against them. But that doesn’t mean that we can, or will, completely forget. In a sense, forgetting would be easier, because then there would be no temptation to hold a person’s past transgressions against them!
In forgiveness we release a person and absorb the loss, be it pain, suffering, or actual property loss. But does that demand that we must trust the person again fully? Whenever possible we should move back toward trust, but it will most likely depend on who the person is who has wronged us. The less intimate the relationship, and thus the greater the distance, the less likely we are to have that trust fully restored or be put in a position where it has to be restored; the closer we are, the more likely we will need to rebuild and rehabilitate that trust.
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