In every society one who commits an act of betrayal is despised and considered unfit to live in that society. Chamber’s Concise Dictionary defines betrayal as: “the act of betraying”. It goes on to define “betray” as: “to give up treacherously: to disclose in breach of trust; to let go basely or weakly; to deceive (the innocent and trustful); to seduce; to discover or show; to deliver up.
Acts of betrayal can cover a huge range of activities from betraying one’s country to betraying little children. In all cases, though, it involves a breach of trust. The breach of trust is painful to those who trusted, but also painful to the perpetrator of the action. It is more painful and despicable when the one who breaks that trust is a close relative or friend.
Well-known examples of betrayal
No doubt the most famous and oft mentioned act of betrayal is that of Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Judas Iscariot was a close friend and follower of Jesus Christ. He may have been related to the other apostles in some way, as it was a close-knit society. In Jesus’ case, He knew Judas was a thief and also that prophecy stated that one of His followers would betray Him (Matthew 17:22 Matthew 17:22And while they stayed in Galilee, Jesus said to them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:
American King James Version×; Matthew 26:21 Matthew 26:21And as they did eat, he said, Truly I say to you, that one of you shall betray me.
American King James Version×).
Judas went so far as to betray Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48 Luke 22:47-48  And while he yet spoke, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near to Jesus to kiss him.
 But Jesus said to him, Judas, betray you the Son of man with a kiss?
American King James Version×). Betrayal by a complete stranger is bad enough, but when a trusted friend betrays you, the pain is far greater. Judas did not escape unscathed. That betrayal weighed heavy on his conscience too. Matthew 27:3-10 Matthew 27:3-10  Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,  Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see you to that.  And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.  And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.  And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.  Why that field was called, The field of blood, to this day.  Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;  And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
American King James Version×explains that Judas felt remorse and tried to give the money back. His offer was rejected and he threw the coins down on the temple floor and went and hanged himself.
Everyone suffers by the breaking of trust. Luke 23:47-48 Luke 23:47-48  Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.
 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
American King James Version×tells us that the centurion who crucified Christ as well as the whole crowd of onlookers felt remorse and pain at what they had done.
When people who are known to be trustworthy act to betray trust in some way, they may indeed not realize what they are doing. Some acts are done in the heat of the moment and may be driven by emotion. Deeds that have taken planning and care in order to deceive and betray are of a different order.
Almighty God has much to say about matters of trust. The Ten Commandments contain directions that deal with trust. Thou shalt not commit adultery, steal, lie, lust and covet are all commandments dealing with trust. Our society suffers terribly when a generation of people abandons these clear instructions.
Untrustworthy leaders bring devastation
In the book of Malachi, God condemned the priests of Israel to shame and rejection because the “lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth… But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi (Malachi 2:7-8 Malachi 2:7-8  For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
 But you are departed out of the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×). In verse 10 the accusation is that “we deal treacherously with one another.” Dealing in treachery is betrayal of trust. Malachi 2:14 Malachi 2:14Yet you say, Why? Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet is she your companion, and the wife of your covenant.
American King James Version×speaks against betraying the wife of one’s youth. God goes on to list some of the offending types of people, such as: sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers and those who exploit wage earners, widows and orphans (Malachi 3:5 Malachi 3:5And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×).
Our own laws have strong penalties for people who are in a position of trust, but who betray that trust in dealing with the people they are to help and protect. Marriage and the union of one man and one woman is perhaps the closest unit in our society. The Bible says they are “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×). Perhaps that is why marriages are almost impossible to rescue when adultery occurs.
Among the most heinous of crimes are those committed against the helpless ones in our society. Widows, orphans and all little children are in need of protection and care. They are vulnerable and have no choice but to trust people who surround them. Child pornography and the sexual abuse of children must bring a stench to the nostrils of God. Teachers are given responsibility with the young and if they should abuse the helpless, the judgment of God is more severe upon them (James 3:1 James 3:1My brothers, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
American King James Version×).
When a little child is molested, scars are left that may never heal. We read cases where dozens of little children have been molested by a single pedophile. Pedophiles are usually adults whose lives are totally miserable. Yet, destroying the bright future of a child is unacceptable. Pedophiles are often given a slap on the wrist by the criminal justice system and let loose to become predators once again. Our laws are far too lax against those convicted of causing such lasting pain.
We must still trust in others and be trustworthy
It is awonderful experience to meet someone who is completely honest and in whom you can place your trust. Micah cried out about the conditions in his time. He stated: “The faithful man has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; every man hunts his brother with a net” (Micah 7:2 Micah 7:2The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
American King James Version×). He goes on to advise people not to trust “in a friend” (Micah 7:5 Micah 7:5Trust you not in a friend, put you not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of your mouth from her that lies in your bosom.
American King James Version×). Jesus quoted some of Micah’s words in Matthew 10:35-36 Matthew 10:35-36  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
American King James Version×. He said that your enemies would be from you own household. It is terrifying to think that fathers would betray children and children parents.
Paul worked among people and was often betrayed. He commented that we are to trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men (1 Timothy 4:10 1 Timothy 4:10For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.
American King James Version×). Paul knew he and we would suffer betrayals of various sorts in our lives – this world does not keep God’s law.
It is clear that we must trust people. We must trust that we will not be betrayed – yet knowing all the time that it is possible and one day someone will betray us. The simple act of driving a car down the street is an act of trust in the other drivers. You believe they will stay on their side of the road and not endanger you. We trust people to stop for pedestrians – and by far the greatest majority does stop – but pedestrians are also run over every day on our busy streets.
We trust our spouse when we are not home. We trust our children. We do not spy on everyone to see if they are trustworthy. We also know that adultery is rampant and children are being drawn into the drug scene or are tempted into skipping school. Parents may leave children at home alone with strong admonitions that there are no parties. Children do betray the trust of their parents.
Everyone suffers from betrayal. It does hurt. Those who have been betrayed are angry and the betrayer is often struck with remorse. This is Satan’s world and he is the greatest betrayer of all. God gave Lucifer great responsibility and power. He betrayed that trust and convinced a third of the angels to follow him. God endures much betrayal, but His character is the very pinnacle of trustworthiness.
It is a mark of good and godly character to be trustworthy -- to have a deep inner drive never to betray the trust of God or of other human beings. To fulfill our responsibilities as caretakers of the weak of this world – children and widows, the blind and ill, the poor and hungry --is the road that leads to eternal life. If we love God, we will keep His commandments (1 John 2:2-6 1 John 2:2-6  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
 He that said, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
 But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
 He that said he stays in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
American King James Version×). We are then perfected in Him and, by walking just as Jesus walked, we become like Him.
Betrayal of others is a huge sin. It warps our characters and leaves pain in the lives of those we should be loving and caring for. Choosing to stand for trust and truth pleases God and brings an end to self-inflicted pain and the pain we cause others. Stop the pain – be trustworthy.
To learn more about the root causes of betrayal, request the free Bible study aid Why Does God Allow Suffering?