How to Overcome the Bitterness of Betrayal

 In Articles, Happy Life, Relationships

“The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.” 


Have you ever felt betrayed by someone?

When someone you trusted hurts you, betrays you, or leaves you, it can be one of the most painful and heartbreaking situations. It can be tempting to feel like you failed, to quit, or even to give in to bitterness or anger. I want you to understand how to overcome the bitterness of betrayal. 

My husband, Gary, and I have experienced and had to deal with many betrayals over the years in business, ministry, relationships, and friendships… and I can tell you from firsthand experience, it’s not fun!

Remember this: Betrayal is not a reflection of who YOU are. 

Even Jesus faced betrayal. Palm Sunday celebrates the day Jesus was honored on His way to Jerusalem. John 12:13 (NIV) says:

They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!”

A few days after Palm Sunday, none of those people would worship or even acknowledge Jesus as Lord when He was arrested and crucified, but He still loved them. 

The same people who praised Jesus in Jerusalem were the same people who later cursed Him, and He loved them anyway.

Judas is another example of betrayal in Jesus’s life. Judas was one of Jesus’s twelve disciples mentoring under Him and ministering with Him. Unfortunately, Judas had selfish ulterior motives. He was self-seeking; he didn’t have any loyalty to Jesus. When a price was put on Jesus’s head, Judas betrayed Him for the money. Judas gave Him over to be crucified for a few silver coins and even marked it with a kiss. 


Matthew 26:48-50 (NIV) say: 

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus, and arrested him. 


In today’s culture, it’s unlikely that you will encounter a friend who will sell you to the authorities to be killed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t relate. I’ve heard story after story of this kind of stinging betrayal. In fact, Gary and I have experienced it firsthand on several occasions! 

There is nothing as painful or devastating as this tactic from the enemy. I can trace any time Gary and I have been tempted to quit back to this type of attack! These attacks can be especially hurtful when they come from someone you love and trust––someone in your inner circle, like Judas was to Jesus. 

A close friend, a staff member, a family member… 

Remember, a person’s betrayal is not a reflection on you as a leader or as a person; it’s a reflection of what’s going on inside the person who betrayed you.


The First Three Stages of Disloyalty

Matthew 10:16 (NIV) says, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

This verse perfectly describes how we are called to work with people! 

When you get hurt, it’s easy to become suspicious and hard-hearted toward people. God wants us to see the best in everyone. He also wants us to walk in wisdom and the discernment of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) says: 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 

There is an enemy who wants to stop us from reaching our destinies, and he will try to work through people. 

That’s why we have to use the discernment of the Holy Spirit! 

Did you know that a bull shark is half the size of a great white shark, but it’s responsible for the most shark attacks?

The moral of the story is things aren’t always as they seem.

According to Dag Heward-Mills’s book Loyalty and Disloyalty, here are the first four stages of disloyalty:

  1. INDEPENDENT SPIRIT – This is where someone starts on their pathway to disloyalty. These are people who, even though they have pledged loyalty to a person, group, or belief, begin to operate independently. In other words, the rules no longer apply. They are no longer submitted to authority. Heward-Mills says, “When a person belonging to a group, ministry, or company develops an independent attitude, he sort of becomes autonomous within the setup. The rules of the organization no longer control him.”
  2. OFFENSE A person starts operating in an offended mindset, which causes them to become bitter and even hateful. 
  3. PASSIVITY – Once someone is well into the offense stage, they drift into passivity and inaction. You may notice they start sitting in the back of your meetings, stop communicating with you, or show nonverbal signs of disinterest.

Passivity doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the person only seeks and magnifies flaws. They can only see the bad. 


Hang with the Eleven

When someone you thought was a trusted friend betrays you, you might want to take it personally.

But the way someone behaves toward you is a reflection of their character, not yours! 

Gary and I spent too many years in ministry trying to save the betrayers, and part of that was my need to please people. 

The worst part is you can’t always avoid this kind of attack. Even Jesus, who was a perfect leader, experienced betrayal in His team. That’s actually good news! People may betray you, but you don’t need to take it personally. Jesus was a perfect leader, remember? A person’s betrayal is not a reflection on you as a leader; it’s a reflection of what’s going on in them. You can pray for them, but stay the course. It’s not flesh and blood you’re dealing with. Don’t turn from your assignment. Don’t jump through hoops and sacrifice your calling in life to please people. 

I think too many leaders spend half of their lives trying to keep their Judases from hanging themselves instead of spending time with the eleven who love them, support them, and could help further their mission.

Pray for the betrayers, but continue to pursue your calling! 

P.S. Consider this: Jesus used His betrayer, Judas, to achieve His assignment. Whoa! 

You might think that sharks in your life set you back or knock you off your trajectory, but trust that, if you let Him, God will use even the betrayers to advance your purpose.


The Power of Forgiveness

What somebody did to us might have been wrong, but we have to remember that we aren’t dealing with flesh and blood. God loves that person and has a purpose for their life. We have all acted like this at a certain time or in a certain situation in our lives! Forgive others in the same way you would want people to forgive you. Forgiveness isn’t just how you treat someone; it’s how you choose to SEE someone. As we deal with betrayal, it’s so important that we keep the right perspective about who they are, so we don’t let bitterness take a hold in our hearts. 

Forgiveness isn’t a feeling; it’s a choice that requires corresponding action. Jesus told us to pray, “And forgive our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12, NLT). 

Forgiveness is a choice. God’s nature is to forgive. Human nature is to get even.

All too often, when we get hurt, we see ourselves as victims. We feel upset, confused, angry, discouraged, and maybe even depressed or suicidal. And then, we go through extremes of sulking or thinking of how we can pay the offender back––hurt them like they hurt us. We picture what has been done to us and how we can get even. 

If there is someone you are holding unforgiveness toward, I want to encourage you to forgive them today. Drop your weapons. Release your pain and say, “Father, forgive them. I forgive them.” When we choose to forgive, we’re set free from the prison that others’ sinful actions were intended to build around our hearts. 

In the midst of the greatest betrayal, Jesus still taught love and forgiveness, and gave Himself for it. 


Betrayal is the most deadly type of shark attack that exists! For information how to heal from Shark Attacks (people who hurt us) get my book, Shark Proof

To read more about overcoming, check out my blog You Are Made for Victory!


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