Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:6
While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him.
I sat in the office, legs crossed, leaning forward as I shared my latest idea with my trusted friend. He and I were working in the same field and though he had offered me a position when he opened his own fitness facility, I had accepted another offer elsewhere at the time. I never suspected I had to carefully guard the idea I excitedly shared with this person, after all, we were friends, right?
The next week, I stopped by his place of business, as we often chatted about industry issues and trends over coffee. It was then I noticed the boxes of freshly printed flyers. On the flyers without even a slight variation were the words I had shared the week before in the same room. The trusted friend had beat my boss to using my idea and exact wording for HIS advertising! He shrugged it off as “just business”, without as much as an apology.
It was one of the most painful lessons of my life.
I have often contemplated the relationship between Jesus and Judas. That Jesus allowed one who He knew would initiate the ultimate betrayal of all time into His circle challenges me still, befuddles my finite mind.
But, Jesus lived what He preached:
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?… Matthew 5:45-46
I long to be like Jesus and sometimes I am closer than I was before and sometimes the gap feels wider than ever. Often I am left realizing I resemble Peter in the courtyard denying the name I claim, by my actions, thoughts and choices.
How do we respond when others wrong and deceive us? What is our course of action when we are betrayed? What do we do when someone accuses us falsely or slanders us?
How can we bring this timeless wisdom into our present day?
The answer to all of these questions is the same. The answer is in Jesus Christ. Knowing His life, actions, responses, words. Knowing this Jesus and the Word of God that He himself revealed is the answer.
I’d like to say that nothing like this ever happened to me again. But, it’s not true. I have had a number of instances when I have been betrayed by someone I trusted. I have had people befriend me for the wrong reasons, and turn on me as soon as they got what they wanted. I have been sucker punched and surprised more than once in my career and relationships. I have dealt with fair weather friends and seemingly psychotic bosses. I have also failed and disappointed others, no doubt about it.
We live in a world of expectations spoken and unspoken. We step on toes, unintentionally at times. We get hurt, we hurt others.
The one constant pursuit that has delivered me through every single circumstance, every failure and each accomplishment as well, is my study of God’s Word and my relationship with Jesus Christ. Many things in my life have changed over the years. Many circumstances have come and gone. But my relationship with the One True Living God perseveres. It grows more passionate, not less so as the years go on. I am more in love with my Savior today than I was yesterday, however I can say with great conviction, this love is based on a more accurate picture of who He is now than my early days.
My mind and thoughts have been conformed to His. Early on, I sort of expected the opposite: God should give me what I want because I acknowledge Him. I did not say that- but I know I believed it. I know I also believed that somehow my Christianity was like a good luck charm, the kind you rub and then only good things come your way. After studying the life of the One I follow, as revealed in Scripture, I realized how misguided and twisted my perception of Christianity actually was.
Mature faith is one that acknowledges Him and is less focused on self and circumstances. It recognizes the One who claims to be the Beginning and the End and is content to be in the middle between His love and faithfulness, knowing that is the safest place, regardless of circumstances.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Indeed, because He lives, I can face anything at all.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25
*Journal Prompt & Possibilities:
1. Think about a time you have been betrayed, write about it and allow some time for prayer asking God to give you insight about the circumstances. Seek to give and receive grace. Seek to find something good from the experience (be it personal growth, or a new direction). Life lessons are not usually pain free. See if you can frame the experience in a positive light, somehow- even if it challenges you or seems difficult or impossible.
2. Write about a time you disappointed another. Ask the Lord to allow you to see from the perspective of the other person. Seek to give and receive grace. Seek to find something good from the experience. From difficult circumstances a seed of something positive may come…ask the Lord for eyes of faith to see.
3. Matthew 5: 45-46. Write the scripture in your journal and ask the Lord to help you to apply this verse about loving your enemies to your own life. Hang on for that ride!
*This post is part of a series: Devotion Thoughts for Summer Days– a combination of faith based posts published between 2011-2013 (and some written fresh this Summer) revised with journaling prompts.
Thank you for joining me on the journey!