One of the most painful things in life is knowing that you have been betrayed. A parent suffers tremendous pain when a child rebels. A wife is scarred for life when her husband cheats on her. A man is hurt when his friends abandon him in time of need. Jesus suffered the ultimate betrayal on the cross. He was betrayed by those closest to Him. He was betrayed by His own creation. Betrayal causes emotional and physical pain. It is a pain that is not easily remedied. Betrayal leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It harms relationships for years to come.
The affects of betrayal
Wall Street financier, Ziad K. Abdelnour said, “Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated. Betrayal of any of those is to lose all three.” When someone who is close to you violates your trust in them you lose all trust and respect you had in them. When someone close to you disrespects you and dishonors your name and position you lose respect and trust in them. When someone turns their back on you, abandons you, and stabs you in the back; there is no way to recover your trust in them. Betrayal in any form cause irreparable damage. You may be able to forgive someone who has betrayed you, but you can never trust them again. An unknown author said, “I’m mature enough to forgive you, but I’m not dumb enough to trust you again.”
The response to betrayal
When someone close to you betrays you and violates your trust in them it will take some time to recover. The affects of betrayal last a lifetime. However, there is a right and a wrong way to respond to betrayal. The first response is do not react. There is a difference between reacting and responding. Reacting is to do something in return. Responding is to do that which is constructive and not destructive. We all have a defense mechanism. When someone betrays us, attacks us, spreads lies about us, stabs us in the back; the natural reaction is to defend ourselves and to fight back. However, reacting to the betrayal by stooping to their level will only exacerbate the problem. The scripture tells us, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” When we are betrayed, we do need to respond, but we should never react.
Our second response should be to pray. As a pastor, I have been betrayed many times. There are those over the years that I put my trust in only to have them turn against me because of some small area of disagreement. Whether you are a pastor or in any other form of leadership, you will have those that will betray you and hurt you deeply. You will have those who will be a thorn in your side and cause all types of harm to your life and ministry. This is why people in leadership are some of the most loneliest people in the world. They cannot allow themselves to be vulnerable. They cannot get too close to people, for fear of ulterior motives that could bring harm to themselves and to the organization that they lead. So, how should we respond to those who have lost our trust and have betrayed us? We should pray for them. Pray that God will bless them and meet their needs. Pray that God will help them to grow spiritual. Such praying is the opposite of our natural instincts. However, God has a way of working things out in His way and in His time. As we pray for them, God will give us the wisdom to know how to respond in a way that is best for everyone.
After we refuse to react, and we commit to pray we should then respond to betrayal by doing what is necessary. Depending on the level of betrayal and the harm that it may have caused, there is a decision that must be made concerning your continual relationship with the one that has betrayed you. In the case of a marriage relationship, it is important to follow Biblical principles of marriage and to offer forgiveness and reconciliation. However, if it is in the case of a job where someone has brought harm to the success of the company, then discipline may need to be taken. The same is true in the life of a church. If there is someone who has betrayed the church by actions that bring harm to the church and to the cause of Christ, then church discipline may be needed. However, such action should be handled following Biblical principles and in love and grace with the hopes of restoration.
Betrayal in any shape or form is very hurtful and causes tremendous pain. However, it is not beyond repair. Relationships can be restored and the damage that is done can be repaired. It requires an extra measure of love and grace. It requires a lot of prayer and wisdom from above. If someone has betrayed you remember: don’t react, but pray. Once you have spent adequate time in prayer, respond in wisdom, love, and grace. And do what is necessary in proportion to the betrayal that has occurred.