Have you been betrayed by a close friend? Most of us have. It hurts when a friend gossips or fails to be there when we need them. What can we learn from David about how to respond? And why does what comes naturally only deepen our pain?
Joshua 1 & 2
When a Friend Betrays Us
My Own Familiar Friend
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me (v. 9).
Like David, we have, probably, all had a “familiar friend” who has betrayed us. Betrayal hurts. It hurts when someone we trusted gossips about us. It hurts when a friend we counted on turns away when we need her most.
But like David, we can choose how we respond. We should start by turning to God.
David prayed, “But You, O Lord, be merciful to me, and raise me up” (v. 10).
Jesus raised the bar even further. He commanded us:
“… love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven ….” (Matt. 5.44-45).
How we respond when we are wounded whether by a friend or a perceived enemy says a lot about our spiritual maturity.
How do I respond? How do you respond? Are we able to bless those who spitefully use us? Or do we respond in anger and unforgiveness? The latter is easy. It comes naturally. And our sinful hearts will allow us to feel downright justified with anger and bitterness. But look at our Proverbs reading to see why these questions are so important.
The Easy Way Turns Out to Be the Hard Way
Verse 15 says, “Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard.”
Yesterday I referred to this verse when I said, “Life gets hard when we decide we can make our own rules.” Responding with sinful anger, bitterness, criticism or gossip seems like the easy way to go. It comes naturally to our sin nature.
On the other hand, responding in a godly way seems hard at first. But as we travel down each of those roads, what seemed easy becomes the hard road as we suffer the consequences of our sin. And what seemed like the difficult choice becomes easier, because God is at work (Matt. 11.28-30, Gal. 6.7-10). See the Y-chart above and my post “Responding to Difficult People” for a more complete explanation of this passage.
Today’s Other Readings:
Joshua 1 & 2:
Be Strong and of Good Courage!
Moses has died and Joshua has just assumed the leadership of God’s people. Some of God’s first instructions to the new leader were “Be strong and of good courage!”—not just once, but repeatedly (vv. 6, 7, 9).
That advice is for us today, as well. Whatever God has called us to do, He’ll give us the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to do as long as we rely on Him.
Do a Heart Check
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (1.8).
We love the promises of God like “you will have good success,” but so many of God’s promises are conditional. In this passage God lists three conditions:
1) “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth,” 2) “you shall meditate in it day and night,” and 3) “observe to do according to all that is written in it.” “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
How much time to you spend reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word? Do you meditate, think deeply about, its great truths and instructions? Is it in your mouth? Or is your mouth filled with complaining, criticizing and condemning? Are you a doer of the Word or just a hearer?
God is faithful to His promises and there are many kindnesses that God extends His children just because of His mercy and grace. He never treats us as we deserve, but like any good parent He expects us to be growing and becoming more like Christ. That requires faithful, grace-empowered obedience on our part.
Changed or Not?
What a great story about the Gadarene demoniac! The man ran around naked, lived in the tombs and was so violent chains couldn’t hold him. But once he had a genuine encounter with Jesus, he was changed (v. 35)!
Even though we are not saved by our works, genuine salvation will produce good works. Jesus said, “You will know a tree by its fruit” (Lk. 6.43-45). How has your life changed since becoming a believer? Or has it?
You may be religious. You may have attended church all your life. You may believe in God. You may even be a “good” person by the world’s standards.
But religion can’t save you.
And looking “good” on the outside while your heart is far from God will only make you prideful and self-righteous.
The only path to salvation is a relationship with the living God through His Son Jesus Christ. We must believe the Gospel: recognize that we are sinners without any ability to save ourselves, that Jesus is who He said He was, that He lived a sinless life, died on a cross as payment for our sins, rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father. We must put our trust in what He did on our behalf instead of ourselves and surrender our lives to His lordship.
What about you?
If you’re not sure about your relationship with Him, cry out to Him. Confess your sins, tell Him you believe, and surrender your life to Him. You can do it right now: in your living room, in your office, or anywhere you are.
If you do, seek out a Christian friend or a pastor. Tell them of your decision. Then find a good Bible teaching church and start your new life in Him. Contact me in the comments section below and I’ll be glad to help you or answer any questions.
And if you are a believer, look back at our reading in Joshua and consider the questions I posed there. How much time do you spend reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word? Do you meditate—think deeply about—its great truths and instructions? Is it in your mouth? Or is your mouth filled with complaining, criticizing and condemning? Are you a doer of the Word or just a hearer?
And what about your response to our reading in Psalm 41? How do you respond when wounded by someone? Do you respond with blessings or do you respond in anger, unforgiveness, and vengeance?
Do a heart check. How has your life changed since becoming a believer? I hope you’ll share your testimony and your struggles.
Changed by His grace,
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