After sharing a bit regarding trusting others with a few friends at the Selma Senior Center the other day, I felt a need to share about this subject in this week's column.
The Bible’s message about trusting others was summed up by King David, who said, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8–9). David spoke from experience, having been betrayed many times by those close to him (see Psalm 41:9). Instead of becoming bitter or regarding all people as inherently untrustworthy and not worth his time, he learned and taught a simple truth, "Sinful people will fail us, but we can always trust in God."
David’s son, King Solomon, learned that lesson well and added to it, saying that it’s better to trust God than to trust our own minds (Proverbs 3:5–6).
But we still need to trust one another. That is part of being human and of living in society. Moreover, we want to trust each other. Trusting others is almost inseparable from loving others. True intimacy can only be achieved through honesty and trust. But how do we overcome the fear that arises from the memory of past betrayals, which we have all experienced?
What does the Bible say about trusting others after we’ve been hurt?
Trusting God is the first, most important step. When we know that, no matter what men do to us, God will always be there, faithful and true and trustworthy, which will make it easier to handle betrayal or disappointments. “The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).
When we are hurt after trusting others, forgiveness is in order. As Jesus told Peter, if a brother sins against you seventy-seven times a day and comes back asking for forgiveness, we should forgive (Matthew 18:21–22).
If a person repeatedly betrays our trust, unrepentantly, we are not commanded to continue to associate with him or to make ourselves vulnerable to him. However, the Bible is clear that we should forgive those who are sorry for the hurts they’ve caused us, even when those hurts are betrayal and exploited trust. After Jesus made this point, He emphasized the lesson with the parable of a servant who was forgiven a huge debt and then went out and immediately became judgmental and cruel with another servant who owed him a small debt. The heartless actions of the unmerciful servant should remind us of our need to forgive. We have been forgiven by God a much greater debt than anything other people owe to us (Matthew 18:23–35).
Finally, as we learn to trust others, we should strive to be trustworthy ourselves. This is good and godly. We should be a safe place for others (Proverbs 3:29) and keep confidences (Proverbs 11:13). We should be known for our honesty (Proverbs 12:22) and a willingness to suffer with a friend (Proverbs 17:17). Everyone goes through hard times, and we need our friendships even more when the sun is not shining. At times, we all let others down. But we should always strive to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1–3).