Forgiveness and Trust at Work – by Art Lindsley
Because of my background in dealing with religious cults (I spent five years on the board of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project in Berkeley), I was called to go to a city where a church leader had abused a small group of followers.
After years of exploiting his position in order to get money, sex, and power, he was finally found out.
This leader’s little flock was in dismay. How could their trusted leader have been so abusive in manipulating people, having many adulterous affairs and mishandling finances?
He pleaded with them to forgive him and trust him again. As I worked with the group, together we came to this conclusion: Forgiveness? Yes. Trust? No!
Christ calls on us to forgive anyone who asks. Matthew 6:14-15 is emphatic:
If you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
It is necessary to forgive. This would ideally be a transaction where, for instance, I could ask forgiveness for what I had done to you, hear the pain it caused you and the consequences of that pain, and hear the words, “I forgive you.”
If the transaction was impossible or inappropriate, then, at least, you need to let go of the offense committed against you and turn it over to God. Romans 12:17 says,
Never pay back evil for evil…If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
We can afford to let go of anger and resentment over our offence because vengeance is not ours. It is in the Lord’s hands.
In a work situation, hopefully, there can be an asking for forgiveness and receiving it, especially if the two involved in conflict are believers. But even if forgiveness is sought and received from another, does that mean that we ought to trust again? Not necessarily.
For the wounded members of the group with whom I met, it would not be wise to trust that leader again until he had demonstrated over time that he had changed his ways.
Often believers assume that a person claiming to be a believer in Christ should be trusted more than another person: If only it were true!
Believers are forgiven for their sins, but we all come to Christ with various character deficiencies. Our faults do not automatically disappear.
I have a friend, a pastor, who wanted to do a large renovation on a church. A contractor was recommended who was a Christian and had several glowing references that all checked out.
The contractor walked out after only a few months on the job, leaving about $50,000 worth of work undone.
When the church went to the courts to try to get their money back, they found out that they were the sixth client in line trying to get reimbursed. The contractor didn’t keep his word.
At the end of the day, one of the most important elements in any line of work is trust. Gaining a reputation for honesty is not only a witness to the gospel, but is the best way to do business. You can only give trust in proportion to the evidence that someone, or a company, is trustworthy.
Dear God, Thank you for placing me in my workplace. Please make me a reflection of You to all those around me. And make my reputation be one of honesty and trust, so when I speak of You, my words will not be mocked. Amen.
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Art Lindsley, PhD is vice president of theological initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (www.tifwe.org) and author of C.S. Lewis’s Case for Christ, True Truth, Love: The Ultimate Apologetic, and co-author with R.C. Sproul and John Gerstner of Classical Apologetics.
IFWE is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) Christian research organization committed to promoting biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society.