Have you ever been betrayed by a close friend or family member? Many of us have, but you’re not alone. Here are several examples about betrayal.
When David wrote some of the Messianic Psalms, he include in Psalm 41 a prophecy about Jesus Christ’s betrayal, writing, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9), and exactly as prophesied, the Bible says that Judas “sought an opportunity to betray him” (Matt 26:16)…”him” meaning Christ. When Jesus saw His betrayer, “Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss” (Luke 22:48)? It was only after Judas saw that Jesus was going to be crucified that “he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders” (Matt 27:3b), but by then, it was too late. This explains why “Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me’” (John 13:21), even though Jesus knew from the beginning who it was. Not only would Judas betray Jesus, but Jesus told the disciples that in their lifetime, “many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another” (Matt 24:10). Even though the Jewish leaders “were glad, and agreed to give him money so [Judas] consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd” (Luke 22:5-6), but this too was part of the sovereign will of God (Mark 10:45; John 3:16-17).
Have you ever had a close friend or family member betray you? It seems that the closer the person is to you, the more it hurts, and sad as it is, we often hurt the ones we love the most, but these are the ones that hurt us the most too. When we trust someone, but then find out we’ve been gossiped about, or “thrown under the bus” by someone close to us, it hurts worse because we loved them and trusted them. David knew a lot about betrayal by close friends and acquaintances when he was running for his life from King Saul. He wrote, “For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend” (Psalm 55:12-13). It hurts worse when it’s those we least expect to betray us because we trusted them. This has led to the ruin of many relationships. Job had enough suffering that the last thing he needed was his “friends” chastising him. He finally had enough and wrote, “All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me” (John 19:9). Even “his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Not exactly the loving support you expect from your spouse. Delilah betrayed Samson for thousands of pieces of silver (Judges 16:5). In her scheming, she “said to him, How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies” (Judge 16:15). Of course it wasn’t love but a cunning scheme to have Samson destroyed, and it worked.
Forgiveness is hard when you’ve been betrayed, but maybe we should ask ourselves, have we betrayed someone else? Maybe not betray them in the strictest sense, but by gossiping about them, not standing up for them when someone says something bad about them, or maybe we still hold a grudge about something they did. Jesus said that “if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15). If you’ve not forgiven someone, but have received and are expecting forgiveness from God, it seems hypocritical to not forgiven others. This doesn’t mean you’ve lost your salvation, but a person who’s been redeemed by God for infinitely more sin that we’ve sinned ever against others, should not withhold forgiveness from others. God doesn’t withhold forgiveness from us. As for gossip, it’s really slandering someone’s reputation or name, and God promises that “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape” (Prov 19:5). The truth that Jesus spoke, that “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12), goes both ways. You would not want someone gossiping or betraying or not forgiving you, would you, so must never gossip, betray, or be unforgiving of one another.
I consider gossip a form of slander in the sense that you are passing along or listening to something that may or may not be true, and if it’s true, then it’s not helpful to pass it along anyway. If it’s not true, it’s even worse to pass it along. There’ve been a lot of civil lawsuits that found in favor of those who were slandered, so it’s a serious issue in society today, but more so to God. Solomon wrote that “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends” (Prov 16:28). If you know you’re being gossiped about, how does it make you feel? Most people feel angry, betrayed, embarrassed, and hurt. Now imagine what others feel like when we not only listen to gossip, but when we pass it on to others…whether it’s true or not. Sometimes the word slander and gossip are used interchangeably in Scripture, but the Bible never says anything good about gossip (Ezk 36:3; Rom 1:29; 2 Cor 12:20; 1 Tim 5:13). Throughout the Old Testament, Israel was taught, “You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord” (Lev 19:16). God says, “Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure” (Psalm 101:5). Jesus equated gossip with some of the most evil sins found in the human heart, saying it is “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt 15:19).
Almost everyone’s been betrayed by a friend at one time or another, so take heart; you’re not alone. Maybe these Bible events and Scriptures will help you put it all into context. Just about everyone I know has been betrayed to some degree or another, but one thing we know; we cannot change people, we can only change how we react to them. My wife’s wisdom in this area is spot on. God alone can change the human heart (Prov 21:1). All we can do is forgive and be forgiving, and be a trustworthy friend or family member, never betraying one another…especially those we love the most. That’s because those hurt the most.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is a Pastor and Prison Minister in the State of Kansas. Jack is also a writer at Christian Quotes and Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.