Something we can learn from the Betrayer.
Betrayal cuts us to our core.
When Judas Iscariot made his decision to betray Jesus, it was not just Jesus he betrayed. He turned his back on the tight band of brothers he had been with for three years.
At the time of the betrayal, there was so much going on: arrest, trials, worry for Jesus - not too much time to think about all of the relational implications of Judas' actions.
When the band of Jesus followers walks back across the Kidron Valley to the Upper Room in Jerusalem, it is time to address Judas' empty seat at the table.
Let's consider this for a moment: betrayal is painful, sometimes excruciatingly so. The word "betray" is a verb, an act of disloyalty. While there are varying degrees of betrayal, surely the most painful is done by those we love, those who are supposed to love us. Like Judas. After betrayal has occurred, we aren't sure we will ever be able to trust again. We aren't sure about things we used to be sure about. We become very suspicious. Lies have been told. . . promises broken. . . people proven to be untrustworthy. And yet. . . without learning to trust again, we kill off a part of ourselves.
So what can you do about betrayal? 'Seems to me there are two simple things--things which are in our control:
1) Become a person of FAITHFULNESS
While you cannot control the behavior of another, you can choose to grow your own character. If we, who know Jesus, are filled with the Holy Spirit, the fruits of the Holy Spirit should be evident. Are they showing in your life? Remember? "the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."1
When you are faithful, you will not be given to betrayal; you will be loyal, constant, and trustworthy so that is where we must start. The fruits of the Spirit are proof that we take our relationship with God seriously and our lives are witness to our integrity, including faithfulness. What else can you do to move past betrayal?
2) Become a person of FORGIVENESS I believe in order to trust again, you have to be released from the prison of unforgiveness. No one can unlock the door, and let you out; no, the prison door of unforgiveness can only be opened from the inside. Only through the power of forgiveness can you heal the pain of betrayal. That sentence is carefully worded; there is power in forgiveness.
~>Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. If you claim to be a Christian, then you know how much you have been forgiven; and discovering your ability to forgive others is a gift that frees you up. . . yeah, it releases you from a prison of hard heartedness, and allows you to begin to trust again.
~>Forgiveness grows your faith; it says that God is God. He knows, He sees, He will be your justifier. Despite what someone has done to you, acknowledge that your betrayer needs the same mercy God has shown you.
~>Forgiveness is a gift you give to others. Free them to move beyond the betrayal.
Besides, there is no better alternative than forgiveness! Revenge may seem satisfying, but is not helpful in the long run and doesn't do much to help you heal. Recently, a Johns Hopkins University research study found that the most destructive emotion to our physical health is the desire for revenge. And as you and I both know, holding onto anger prevents people from experiencing peace and wreaks havoc on everything in their lives, beginning with personal health.
So in consideration of Judas and his act of betrayal, we do well to see what we can learn about moving past it through forgiveness. Thanks for the lesson, Mr. Judas.
* - Galatians 5.22-23