Betrayal is one of the most painful things to experience. It comes so quickly and unexpectantly. That’s where the real pain lies. She was your friend. He was your confidant. You trusted her with confidential information. He is your brother. The greater the trust, the greater the pain. The deeper the love, the deeper the wound.
The dictionary defines betrayal as, “to be disloyal or to treacherously reveal”. In the Bible the word betray in its various forms is used some 46 times. The Hebrew word means, “to lie, to deal deceitfully, pulling a trick.” The Greek word’s meaning is similar adding the picture of “delivering a person” for some evil intent. A very vivid picture that is often used to describe being betrayed is to say that you were “stabbed in the back”. That’s painful enough. But when the betrayal is over the top deceitful, you can describe it as being ‘stabbed in the front’ while the brother or sister is hugging you and proclaiming the blessings of God in your life.
Like the sin of gossip, being affected by the sin of betrayal is all too common. Recently I asked our congregation to raise their hands and proclaim a hearty “yes” if they have every experienced betrayal. The response, unfortunately, was overwhelming. We were studying that weekend the heinous betrayal Jesus by Judas Iscariot. Judas spent three years with Jesus. They ate together, served together, talked about life together. Jesus taught, loved, served, and cared for Judas on the deepest levels. Yet Judas, looking out for himself and a few pieces of silver does down in history as a man of evil intents, selling out Jesus in deep, bitter betrayal.
It’s not really an issue of whether we will experience betrayal, we will. The real question is how do we respond when it happens? Let’s consider and pray through a few things related to betrayal.
1. GUARD YOUR HEART
Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Betrayal does more than hurt feelings, it goes directly to your heart, the seat of all your emotions. The enemy of your souls is trying to get your heart exposed for the sake of destroying you. Solomon tells us how important it is to guard our hearts because it affects everything we do. If you respond incorrectly, your heart will harden toward other people, and worse yet, towards the Lord. Realize the goal of betrayal is to poison heart. Guard it. You will heal and things will get better. Regular prayer and Bible reading are essential, especially when you’re betrayed. It’s wrong, you’re right, to nurse a grudge. Release your heart and the other person to the Lord and leave them there!
2. FORGIVE THE BETRAYER
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)
Forgiveness is essential. It’s the very act of releasing the offender from their actions. We will not hold them against them any longer. Forgiveness is an act of faith followed by a journey of continuing to forgive and release. When we choose to harbor resentment and bitterness, we now are the offender and will suffer the consequences of our own sin. Resentment is clinging to our hurt feelings and reliving them over and over again. It’s like picking a scab not allowing the wound to heal. Forgive, by faith, the offender and look to love others in Jesus’ name! If you don’t forgive, you will not be able to enjoy the forgiveness that Jesus has so freely given you!
3. TRUST PEOPLE AGAIN
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)
All real and meaningful relationships are built on trust. The closer the relationship, the deeper the trust. Since betrayal is a complete undermining of our trust, it make sense that it has a way of undermining your trust in people going forward. This makes it really hard to trust people again. You have to be very careful not to be suspicious and worried about it happening again. As you fully trust God with your life, you will find a willingness to trust others and continue building good deep relationships. The truth is that most people don’t betray.
4. PULL THE KNIFE OUT & PLACE AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. Matthew 16:24-25 (NLT)
A friend of mine, Pastor Bob Claycamp shared a Bible study recently where he shared a great insight on what to do with the “knife in the back”. He shared how easy it is for us to keep the knife in our backs and use it as a trophy of our pain. This only nurtures self-righteousness and pride in our lives. Instead, we need to pull the knife out and place it at the foot of the cross, where in light of what Jesus has done for us, we die to ourselves and live in the newness of His life!
SOMETHING TO MEDITATE ON: Jesus experienced the worse betrayal ever. One of his most closest friends, a friendship developed over three years, Judas, betrayed him for a few bucks with a kiss. He joined the enemy in their evil plot to beat, ridicule, and crucify Him. What was Jesus response? He called Judas friend, died, and rose again.
After a betrayal, you must rise up and keep going. Jesus rose again to accomplish the will of the Father. You too, must rise up and walk in the power of His Spirit to accomplish the will of your Father.