We’ve all been hurt before. Someone you love, your spouse, your parent, your sibling, or your best friend betrays you, deceives you, hurts you, or ridicules you. No matter the cause the pain is real. Many times you have no choice what happens to you. However, you always can choose how you react to it. David knew something about being betrayed:
“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9)
For the betrayed we always have a choice of how we respond. We can turn bitter or we can get better. I’ve tried both approaches and I can tell you the latter is the more perfect way. To become bitter means to allow its poison to spread through your spirit like emotional cancer. Eventually you come to the point that you strike out just at the sound of your betrayer’s name. You take it out on innocent ones, usually those closest to you, robbing them and you of a whole and loving relationship.
The antidote to the bitterness is forgiveness. Giving forgiveness cleanses your spirit of all anger and malice. It doesn’t wash our memories clean of the event, but it does allow us to move on. And we forgive without being asked for forgiveness. If you’re bitter against someone deceased and you’ve not forgiven them, then you will be forever poisoned by bitterness because you think you must first be asked before you forgive. There is a much easier way to deal with this:
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
This does not mean we do not confront those we love when they betray us. If someone has deceived you and you find out about it from someone else, it is always best to confront your betrayer. However, do so after much prayer so that the confrontation is in the spirit of reconciling the betrayer to a right relationship with God and you.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
Take it from me, carrying around the burden of the sin of offense for decades, specifically against my father, caused great damage in my life. However, being reconciled to him through my forgiving him not only freed me from bitterness, but it also allowed my father and me to have a sweet relationship before he went to be with Jesus.
Perhaps you are the one who needs to seek forgiveness? In most cases it is the one betrayed who takes the first step because he or she is the stronger one. It is always takes the stronger person to build the bridge. But it is so much sweeter if you, having caused the chasm by your betrayal, repair the bridge and seek the forgiveness of your loved one. Even if you don’t receive forgiveness from the person you’ve betrayed, you always receive it from the Lord Jesus Christ:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
No matter where you fit into this equation, you can be set free from bitterness or guilt if you turn to Christ first and then the person with whom you need to make things right. Having been on both ends of this predicament I have learned to make immediate amends as much as it is up to me.
I long ago chose not to be what happens to me.
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers