Betrayal is Painful

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Betrayal is Painful

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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 26:21).

Judas went so far as to betray Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48). 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 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 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). In verse 10 the accusation is that “we deal treacherously with one another.” Dealing in treachery is betrayal of trust. Malachi 2:14 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).

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). 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).

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). He goes on to advise people not to trust “in a friend” (Micah 7:5). Jesus quoted some of Micah’s words in Matthew 10:35-36. 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). 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). 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?

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