by Larry Geraldson
“Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him” (Matt. 26:48-50).
We have all had those experiences which left us feeling betrayed: that moment when, out of the blue, someone who claimed to be a friend stabbed us in the back. David described it this way in Psa. 41:9: “…mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”
The experience can leave us baffled, bewildered, scratching our head and wondering why. Often the motive is unclear, but the hurt is deep and difficult. Often it comes from people who have benefited from our friendship, which leaves us feeling hurt and robbed. We feel deceived and rightly so because we could not perceive their methods. David describes their methods this way: “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords” (Psa. 55:21).
Betrayal is real and the pain is real. But the question is, “How do I, as a believer, deal with it?” This is a challenge. Most believers do not turn to Scriptures to distill the principles and precepts necessary to properly deal with the experience. When events like this occur, we often begin to process the event in our mind, playing it back, over and over again, hoping to find some small sliver of reason or logic that might justify the pain. The problem is that the continual replaying drives the memory deeper and deeper into our psyche. Rather than exercising our hearts, we exercise the flesh. By processing it over and over, it becomes cemented into our being. We think we are distilling it for good but often, we are simply mixing it like concrete, which becomes the building material for Satan to build a stronghold, behind which we will guard an even more dangerous problem called bitterness. Once the stronghold is built and the bitterness rooted, it can be very difficult to overcome.
By now, you may be identifying with the betrayal I have described. Maybe it was a marriage gone bad, or a child that benefited from your parenting, only later to denounce you to the face. Maybe it was a co-worker. Maybe it was a preacher who disappointed you. I have heard so many descriptions over the course of my ministry, but none seem more painful than those that happen when fellow believers betray each other. The betrayal often takes on a life of its own. It may begin with a complaint but grows into a tale told many times as something supposed, that finally passes through perception and arrives as an imagination without any brush with the truth. Almost always, it is supported by an utter lack of exercising our Christian duty to go to the person to explore the truth.
So, how do we deal with this according to Biblical principles and precepts? Jesus said in Matt. 5:10-12: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
• We need to understand that we are “blessed.” If we handle this kind of experience correctly, we will remember that we are blessed, and we will replace the broken record that plays over and over in our minds with a regular and routine reciting of our blessings. Counting our blessings is one of the greatest “weapons of our warfare” that can quickly bring light back into the dark thoughts that have prevailed in our minds.
• We need to exercise the things we know in our hearts, not in our heads. As a believer, you have a new nature. With Jesus in your heart, your heart becomes your “city of refuge.” Run to it and stay there. Remember Gal 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Also, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). Also, Psa. 61:3-4: “For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.”
• We need to pray for those who have done us wrong. This is extremely difficult. It’s like the first attempt to walk after knee replacement. Exercising an area that is sore and hurting is not easy at all. But remember what Jesus said in Matt. 5:44: “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Praying is so important. My personal list is longer than I would like, but the reality is that through my journey of faith, there have always been names on my list of people I pray for, who have “done me much evil.” It goes with the territory. As Christians, we remember what the Scripture says in II Tim. 3:12: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
The one constant that my enemies can know of me is that they will be prayed for, and their specific names will be recited before God often. Psalm 143:1-4 says, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.”
The whole of this process is described by Paul in II Cor. 10:4-6: “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
• Finally, the truth will be known eventually. Let me remind you what Jesus said in John 8:32: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This reality is one that I have seen proven again and again in my life and ministry. Eventually, the truth will be known.
Always remember that Jesus suffered the ultimate betrayal. He was betrayed by Judas because of our guilt. The pain and the hurt He bore for us are incomparable to any pain and suffering we could ever imagine. They lied about Him and accused Him of things that were not true, and ultimately, they killed Him. He willingly suffered and died for my sake. So, I remind myself (when I read Matt. 5:11-12) — “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven” — that I am no better than my Lord.
So, be patient, exercise your heart in the principles and precepts of God’s Word, count your blessings and hide in the person of Jesus Christ. In time, He will free you from the persecution of evil-doers. Sometimes you may feel like you’re standing alone, but never forget what Paul said in II Tim. 4:17-18: “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me… And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”