Life, purpose, and joy described the last three years of Marie’s new life in Christ. Four years ago she was reunited with her old school friend Christine, who had explained to her how the Lord had died for her sin, forgiven her, and given her new life. Marie had listened eagerly to her long-lost friend, as she could see that Christine had what she had been looking for all of her life. After months of long conversations, Marie understood the gospel, cried out to the Lord for forgiveness, and experienced a new life characterized by life, purpose, and joy.
Five years previously, Marie had discovered that her boyfriend, Tom, had betrayed her. Not only was he looking at inappropriate things on the internet, but he also lied to her friends about her, and had stolen a lot of her money. Marie had trusted Tom with her heart and was devastated to discover that he had swindled her the whole time. Marie thought that her hurtful experience with Tom was in the past, but things started to resurface since she had started a relationship with Mark. Mark was a member of the church, preached regularly, and helped disciple new believers. Mark and Marie soon had a relationship and Marie was terrified. Could she ever trust another man again? What if he swindled and betrayed her as well? While there are many areas we could cover, I will touch on four: Jesus the betrayed, having a biblical understanding of human nature, the need for prudence, and the role of the church.
Jesus the Betrayed Marie is not alone in being betrayed. The Son of God, Jesus Christ himself, was betrayed by one of his disciples. Judas had shared in his life and ministry for three years and was in one of his innermost circles. Judas asked the chief priests what they would give him if he delivered Jesus to them and they agreed to the sum of thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16). He came with a great crowd with swords and clubs, and betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matthew 26:47-49). Judas’ betrayal led to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Since Jesus knows what it is to be betrayed, Marie can trust that the Lord understands and has compassion for her. Jesus became flesh to help the offspring of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16), and he sympathizes with her weakness. Since he remained sinless when he was tempted, he can provide Marie with mercy and grace when she herself experiences temptation (Hebrews 4:15, 16). She can know the love, compassion, and help of Jesus as she moves on and learns to relate to people in new ways.
A Biblical Understanding of Human Nature Marie will need to understand what the Bible teaches about who she is. She is created by God, fallen into sin, and redeemed. As a believer she has the daily fight to put off what is of the flesh and to put on what is of Christ. Marie will probably struggle with a craving for love and acceptance, and terror of being rejected. She may be tempted to do anything Mark wants so that he will love her, or be so scared of his rejection and possible betrayal that she will refuse to let him into her life. Given the depth of betrayal that she has experienced, it is important that these heart issues are understood with compassion by the church, Mark, and herself, as part of how the Lord is helping her become like Christ. Marie can slowly learn to trust Mark and let him into her life, as she trusts the Lord and Mark shows that he is a trustworthy person.
The Need for Prudence To be prudent means to act wisely. We read about the importance of prudence in the book of Proverbs. The simple are instructed to have prudence and to walk in the way of insight (1:4; 9:6). The prudent act with knowledge (13:16), discernment (14:8), and give thought to their ways (14:15). As a prudent person, Marie is not to blindly trust Mark, but is rather to be discerning, insightful, knowledgeable, and thoughtful, while not being distrustful. If their relationship progresses, it may be a way of showing love to Marie if Mark is not only completely transparent about financial issues, but also ensures that she is given some form of financial legal protection. These are signs to Marie that he truly loves and cares about her and will not take advantage of her.
The Role of the Church Proverbs teaches us that whoever walks with the wise will become wise (13:20). Older people in the church, both individual women and couples, can help Marie. They can help her trust the Lord, support her as the Lord works on her heart, give her advice about financial issues, and be a model to her about how to relate to others in loving, wise, and prudent ways. Beginning a new relationship is both a joyous and a frightening experience for Marie. Thankfully, it is also a time for her to know our Lord better as One who understands her and wants to work on her heart so that she becomes more like him. While she trusts the Lord each day, he can help her live in a prudent way. As a member of the local church, she can receive the help and wisdom from other believers who have experienced the Lord’s help through the struggles and joys of life.