Has your heart been broken before? Torn apart? People we love are sinners just like us. And they make choices that hurt us and themselves sometimes. Adultery, pornography, substance abuse, cheating, overspending. And they often hide it. What’s a Christian to do when someone we love is dishonest, hiding hurtful behavior, or unfaithful? It can be very hard to know. How to trust? Am I to blame? How to encourage better behavior without trying to control, and going crazy yourself trying?
God began transforming us to be like His perfect son, Jesus, the day we chose to follow Him and accept His gift of life. Even our name – Christian – identifies who God is in the process of making each of us more like. Jesus.
So did anyone close to Jesus ever sneak wrong, hurtful behavior? I can think of one, Judas. He kept the money for Jesus’ ministry and had a habit of stealing some for himself. His desire for money eventually got the best of him, and he accepted a bribe to betray Jesus to those who would kill Him. He identified Jesus to them by kissing Jesus. Betrayed. With a kiss. But his sin destroyed himself. As sin does.
I am not inferring that all those who hurt us are on the downward spiral of Judas. We hope for renewed trust and healing. For their freedom from sin because it always kills the one caught in it. Many will be restored because God is much bigger and full of mercy. And He does mighty things when we pray and ask.
But as the one betrayed, let’s look for our own sake and example at Jesus’s relationship with a close betrayer. How did Jesus handle it? May we follow His lead when we feel betrayed by ones we love and trust. Jesus did too. He left us an example.
Jesus did not feverishly check Judas’s receipts every day. Jesus was free. So are we.
Jesus did not ask Judas daily if he had stolen anything. Even if he had. We don’t have to either.
Jesus did not abandon Judas. But he did have closer relationships with people he could trust – Peter, James, and John.
Jesus did not anxiously wonder how he was not meeting Judas’s needs and causing his wrong behavior. Asking himself, “Was Judas not feeling he had enough? Was Jesus not taking good enough care of Judas?” Judas’s choices were his own. Jesus followed His Father.
Jesus did not worry why Judas didn’t feel like He could be honest with Jesus. Jesus did not question whether Judas realized He was trustworthy, reasonable, and forgiving. Why was he hiding and lying? Was it Jesus’s own fault? Jesus knew when people’s behavior is wrong, they hide from the light. Period. People hide wrongdoing. (John 3:20) It is them. Completely independent of you. Even if you were a flawed wife, husband, friend, mother, father (and we all are), a person who chose to follow God’s ways instead of his or her own desires would be honest and trustworthy. They could choose good even if you were unworthy.
Jesus experienced true, physical, painful effects of Judas’ selfishness and sin. But Judas chose wrong, and Jesus remained faithful to God. Judas destroyed his own life. But Jesus? “God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names.” (Philippians 2:9)
Jesus kept His focus on God and trusted that if God allowed it, He would use it. He did. To redeem the world.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” Genesis 50:20 And God always does. We believe Him: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
May I share with you a direct translation of 1 Corinthians 13 from the original Greek: “Love meekly and patiently bears ill-treatment from others. Love is kind, gentle, benign, pervading and penetrating the whole nature, mellowing all which would have been harsh and austere; is not envious. Love does not brag, nor does it show itself off, is not ostentatious, does not have an inflated ego, does not act unbecomingly, does not seek after the things which are its own, is not irritated, provoked, exasperated, aroused to anger, does not take into account the evil which it suffers, does not rejoice at the iniquity but rejoices with the truth, endures all things, believes all things, hopes all things, bears up under all things, not losing heart nor courage. Love never fails.” May this describe you, my brother or sister. May you put your emotions aside, seek God’s wisdom for each moment, live in the moment, and watch God work!
Final note: This in no way is meant to encourage anyone in an abusive or unhealthy situation to remain in it or enable it. Please seek help and professional counsel, and above all, guidance of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God and prayer. Rather, this is intended for those struggling with guilt over another person’s wrong choices and difficulty trusting. It is God’s truth for your own mind to set you free. Keep your eyes on your Father in heaven. You are not responsible for another’s dishonesty or wrong choices. Pray for them. This is spiritual for them. Be faithful to Him. May He one day tell you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”