When Your Friend Becomes Your Enemy
by Linda Kozar
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy”
If you’ve been a believer long enough, you’ve more than likely been betrayed by someone close to you. Many people refer to this kind of betrayal as “being stabbed in the back.” And there’s good reason for that. You never see it coming.
In the Old Testament, friends protected your flank in the heat of battle. But occasionally, someone close, perhaps motivated by power, greed, or offense, has been known to thrust a sword into the back of a friend they had sworn to protect. Believers expect the unbelieving world to be against them and against what we believe, so we’re more aware and guarded as far as trust goes. But we do not expect such a blow to come from a fellow follower of Christ. Only a friend can betray a friend. Psalm 41:9 “Even my close friend in whom I trust, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (NASB).
No one expects a trusted business partner to embezzle from a shared account. We do not see it coming when a spouse commits adultery with a close family friend. We do not expect friends to steal money or possessions from the home we graciously invited them to. Nor do we expect our friends in church to stand on the other side of the split and cancel longstanding relationships based on a church division. But it happens.
Years ago, I gently confronted a dear friend who was having an extramarital affair. But she refused to hear the truth about her situation. Instead, she chose to believe that marrying her husband had been a terrible mistake, and that true soul mate was the other man. After our conversation, she cut off all contact with me.
She and I had enjoyed the kind of fun day-to-day interaction that truly close friends have. So for her to suddenly break all contact with me was excruciating. I cried and cried, greatly mourning the loss of our friendship.
I’m certain that ending our friendship was difficult for her as well, but I had refused to be on her side. I had refused to agree with her decision, and I regarded that decision as sin. And for her, that meant our friendship was over.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from that kind of hurt?
Nothing. That’s right—if you choose to love as God commands, your heart will always be vulnerable to others. And hurts are going to happen. But the alternative—a cold heart is worse. In order to love and be loved, we must surrender our defenses, and be susceptible. Someone down the line is going to hurt or disappoint you, and at some point even you might be that someone.
Jesus knew full well that Judas was going to betray Him to death, but He washed Judas’s feet anyway (John 13:2-5 KJV). And Jesus humbled Himself to do so in front of all His disciples—an example none of them would soon forget.
Believers are a peculiar people. We forgive those who hurt us. We return love for hatred, and right for wrong. Jesus says to, “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” Matthew 5:44 (NKJV).
Praying for an enemy transforms them from objectified adversary, to fellow human being. Prayers help us to engage our affections and bring life to the words we, in the natural, force our mouths to speak, “I forgive.”
Years later, my old friend surprised me with a visit. She’d divorced her husband and married the man of her dreams. But that relationship, and the new blended family that came along with it, were more akin to a nightmare. She asked for my forgiveness and admitted that I’d been right to tell her the truth. Sadly, though we resolved the rift that had torn us apart, neither of us chose to rekindle or renew our former friendship.
Sometimes, a close friend returns, and a relationship is gloriously redeemed.
But even if the outcome is different, forgiveness has created a bridge instead of a wall between the two parties—a bridge that both are free to cross whenever they choose.
And that is freedom.
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