“These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.” (Zechariah 8:16-17, ESV)
Yesterday we talked about the trustworthiness of God. Today let’s take that a step farther and talk about our need to be trustworthy in our relationships with others.
People sometimes disappoint us. They break our trust, and it hurts. If that person is really close to us, it hurts even more. The person we thought had our back, doesn’t. As Proverbs 25:19 tells us, trusting in an untrustworthy person is painful. They cannot be relied upon.
“Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.” (NLT)
Trusting someone is difficult if someone has proven themselves less than trustworthy in the past. It takes much longer to rebuild trust once a person has shown themselves untrustworthy. The story of Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark, however, shows that restoration is possible.
Paul and Barnabas took John Mark, Barnabas’s nephew, with them on their first missionary journey, but he returned home after a short while (Acts 13:13). We aren’t told why he abandoned the mission. Later, as Paul and Barnabas prepared for their second journey, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them again. Paul refused because of his previous desertion (Acts 15:36-41). The contention over John Mark caused the two men to go separate ways. Paul evangelized with Silas, while Barnabas and John Mark traveled together.
Is that the end of the story? Far from it. As time passed, the young man was able to reestablish the trust he had lost with Paul. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, his son in the gospel, Paul asked Timothy to come to him in Rome. Paul was in prison and only Luke remained with him. He instructed Timothy. “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry” (II Timothy 4:11, ESV). Thankfully, John Mark had rebuilt the trust he lost by turning back from that first journey.
How do we regain someone’s trust once we’ve failed? Or how do we decide to trust again if someone has betrayed our trust? Can the relationship be restored?
Realize that while trust can be lost in just a moment, it cannot be regained that quickly. Trust must be earned, and that takes time. The Bible does not tell us how long it took before John Mark regained Paul’s trust and was considered “very useful to me for ministry.”
If we are sincere in desiring to mend a broken relationship, start by repenting and seeking forgiveness. If both then wish to rebuild their relationship, the following attributes will help restore trust.
- Consistency. Do what you say you will do.
- Honesty. Be truthful.
- Sincerity. Be genuine.
- Transparency. Take responsibility for your actions.
- Respect. Show kindness and courtesy.
- Patience. Allow time to build trust.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10, NKJV)
Lord, I pray that You will help me to life a life of integrity and faithfulness so that I do not offend my brother or sister and lose their trust. My greatest desire is to live in a way that honors You and always reflects a Christlike spirit. Forgive me for the times I have failed You and failed others. Help me to once again show myself trustworthy.