On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
A friend turned on me several years ago. I still don’t know exactly what happened, but the scene is etched in my soul. I can instantly recall where we were, what was said, and my complete surprise. Our friendship seemed to be growing in the same direction, and then—BAM—we met for lunch, and it was over. I was stunned. I felt betrayed. I was deeply hurt. And I carried a potent mixture of sadness and anger around because of this for too long after.
Why am I always surprised by betrayal? Probably because I prefer to believe the best about people. This person didn’t mean to become my enemy that day, but my heart didn’t know where else to go. I wanted God to give me a green light to get back at him in my way, on my timetable, for my benefit. But why and for what? Our former friendship no longer had a foundation to stand on. In the end, I decided to sit back and leave the ultimate outcome in God’s hands.
Last November, I dug around in this same section of Romans 12 and wrote the devotional “Permission to Get Back at People?” At the time, I wasn’t thinking about betrayal, but in returning to this familiar passage, the Holy Spirit took my understanding deeper this time around. How beautiful is that?!
While everything in me wants to fight back against an offender, it’s best to let the Lord heal my hurting heart by choosing to love and serve. It’s challenging when betrayal happens, but we’re instructed to overcome human evil with divine good. This may seem impossible, but it is not when we follow Jesus’ example (cf. Hebrews 4:15). Rather than retaliate with hate, you and I can take God at His word in Romans 12:20-21 and receive what we need to not give in to the temptation to betray whoever betrayed us.
The truth about being human is that it’s not “if” someone will turn on you or me, it’s “when” it will happen next. Most people we encounter, my former friend included, don’t wake up intending to betray someone or become their enemy. But no one’s perfect. Relational hurt is bound to happen occasionally on this side of heaven. Because we know it’s coming, we can soak in God’s truth now so we can live it out when we’re grieving through the pain of betrayal.
Who is someone that you feel betrayed by? Write down what happened and what you’d like God to do to intervene. Ask God what step(s) you can take to heal through your hurt.