How to react when your close friend betrays you? – 7 Lessons from the life of Jesus

“The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies. It comes from friends and loved ones” 
― Author : Unknown

How would you feel when someone whom you loved and cared for, whom you helped and even sacrificed your time, turns against you one day or betrays you?


According to Oxford Learners Dictionary, the word betrayal means

  1. to give information about somebody/something to an enemy
  2. to hurt somebody who trusts you, especially by not being loyal or faithful to them

This is a very painful moment and you may feel deeply hurt. What are the thoughts which come to your mind? Would you plan to hurt that person? Would you plan to retaliate? What would be your response?

There is an other post which I have written on dealing with hurtful words, you may read it here.

In this post, I would like to list seven ways which can help you deal with a friend who has been disloyal to you. We all know how Judas betrayed his best friend Jesus. Although Jesus had great power and authority, instead of doing harm to Judas, He did these 7 things, which any ordinary person would have never done. Let’s explore this incident in detail

It is easy to break a relationship, but it takes lot of time to build that trust. 

These 7 lessons are based on one Chapter of the Bible ie. John Chapter 13. If you want you can read the full chapter here and continue reading this post which may give you a better understanding of the context.

1. Continue to love

The moment you realize that you are betrayed, you may feel like harming that person to whatever extent possible so that you could possibly teach him a lesson. But let’s see what Jesus did when He was betrayed.

When Jesus chose his 12 disciples itself (which included Judas), Jesus knew that this disciple would betray him, but still He loved him like the others till the end of his life on earth. You may think why then did He chose him? I think one reason could be, to give us an example on how to deal with people who have betrayed us. And here is what the Bible says about what Jesus did to Judas

having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end -John 13:1

Jesus never showed partiality. He loved Judas and He had the same affection towards Judas just as He had to his other disciples. This is what we should do to the person who has betrayed us.

Sounds difficult? Now read on.

2. Continue to do good

Here in this story, the disciples were having their last supper with Jesus. Here we see Jesus taking the bread and giving to Judas. Even though Jesus was deeply hurt inside knowing that this same friend would betray him within few hours, Jesus still gave him food with his own hands.

Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. -John 13:26

Sounds strange? This is what Jesus taught us from his life. Now read what Paul taught the Church at Romans about this same principle.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. -Romans 12:17-21

3. Continue to serve him

Now when you realize that you have been betrayed, choose to serve him as if he is still your friend.

Read the portion below

so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus washed the feet of that disciple who was going to betray him. What a humble Master!

4. Do not curse him or pray against him

Jesus could have easily cursed him after the betrayal. But He never said a word that would harm Judas. This was what he said.

but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” – Luke 22:48

Note:- Son of Man refers to Jesus Christ

Never curse that person who betrayed you. You have only one thing to do. Bless him. Read the portion below.

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

So being a child of God your attitude should be also the same. Now what do you think? If Judas would have changed his mind and came to Jesus asking for forgiveness, would He accept him and continue to love him? Definitely yes!

5. Try to preserve his reputation

In such moments it’s better not to reveal the matter to others. Just wait! What if he changes his mind later!

In this case, Jesus was assembled in a room where his 12 disciples were there (including Judas). Jesus indirectly gave them a hint that one of them would betray him that night. Nobody understood that it was about Judas that Jesus was referring to. You know why they didn’t get it? I guess, Jesus would have mentioned it in such a way that no one would guess who that person was! Jesus was trying to preserve the reputation and the identity of Judas among his other disciples. That is what we should do.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. -John 13: 28

Do not speak evil about that person even in his/her absence.

6. Do not gossip about that person

You know what Jesus did when Judas left the room? He remained silent about what Judas was going to do.

Judas left the room in haste to meet the Jews and soldiers. He had planned to assist them in arresting Jesus. But Jesus continued to speak about many things to His other disciples about His departure from this world and about His return etc. But he never spoke anything bad about Judas.

Jesus could have made use of this opportunity to speak negatively about Judas.  He could have cautioned others by saying, “Be careful about this man”, “He is dangerous fellow”, “See, he is going to betray me”, “I knew this earlier” and so on. But He refused to do so. Thus He became a real model for us to imitate.

Oh what a wonderful example for us to follow! I’m certain that his other disciples must have noted this quality of their Master.

7. Give a second chance

“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”
― William Blake

I guess Jesus would have waited for Judas, expected him to come back to him so that he could forgive him and give him a new beginning. But Judas didn’t come back! Jesus would have given him a chance to repent till the very last moment because Jesus was so merciful, loving and caring.

You will never know what actually happened in that particular relationship. Just wait patiently for the relationship to be restored. God values relationships a lot. So as far as possible make every effort to be in peace with everyone.

Even if that friend of yours is not willing to make peace with you or come back to your friendship, you should be willing to forgive him and give him every chance possible to restore the relationship. This is a great moral standard.

Will you give him a chance even if it means in extreme cases, to make peace with you on his death bed?

Is this practical?

I agree that the above mentioned principles are very difficult to follow, but I believe that with God’s help this is possible and Jesus proved it. Let’s pray and seek the help of God in such cases.

By doing the above you are making a difference. There is power in unconditional love. Continue to be what you are! Never let the attitude/behavior of others change the way you are. Just imagine, what if the person changes his mind, comes back to you and your relationship is restored? There is high chance that he/she will respect you for being a true friend even when you were betrayed. You can set an example for others in your society. This way we can change this world by not allowing the world to change us.

Now what are the other things you may have noted from this incident?

I would like to know more. Could you please drop a comment below. Also if any of the above principles are not clear, kindly drop a note below, we may discuss more OR you can contact me here.

Have you subscribed your email? It’s FREE! Please enter your email address at the bottom of this page and click ‘Subscribe’.

Stay connected!

Sign up now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

  • Zeno Ben Sunny

    It was really a thought provoking article Donnycha. We ought to be like Jesus. The article helped me to check up my life again with the word of God.
    Keep up the good work.
    God bless you.

    • Donny Thomas Kurien

      Thanks Zeno. Yes we need to pray and seek God’s help to be more like him.
      God bless you.

  • Joanna Sara Valson

    A great applause for writing this up!!

    Yes, it is one of the daily challenges in christian life. The greatest battle I face is to continue to be what I am and not change my attitude…. this takes a lot of self-denial, capturing of emotions, blinding my hurts, taking up my cross and living the way Jesus lived..
    I have realized that there’s only one Person who can help me out with this battle..the Holy Spirit.. the One who is very near, when you are about to fall..

    • Donny Thomas Kurien

      Yes sister, we really need the help of the Holy Spirit to put these into practice. I remember this verse from John 14:16

      “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Comforter [the Holy Spirit] to help you and be with you forever”


  • Arun K Babu

    Good article bro. Now I remember the Joseph’s life in the old testament. He also betrayed by his own brothers. He also forgave them and continued to love them. Because he was very well understanding about his dream. If his brothers didn’t betrayed him, he couldn’t see his dream came into fulfilled. Jesus also knew about his future, as the verses says in John 13:3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God. So I think like this, if we knew our future very well we will act like Jesus. As you said like it’s bit hard to behave like that. But with the help of God all things are possible amen. Now I am praying like this, oh Lords never let me face such situations in my life.

    • Donny Thomas Kurien

      Yes bro. Joseph’s life was also similar. Yesterday I was reading another article on the life of Joseph and yours was a confirmation to me. Thanks a lot.

      And as you mentioned from John 13:3, that the ‘knowledge of God’s word’ helps us to stand strong in such situations. Yes it’s a revelation. May god help us.

      God bless you.

  • Tara Gomez

    Betrayal by a friend or even a family member is something which people find very hard to come
    to terms with. The pain & the lack of trust that follows you and bears it’s burden on you can be unbearable.
    Jesus faced a similar situation and dealt with it as no one ever did and He set us an example to follow. But I didn’t find it easy to follow when I faced a similar situation. Then I decided to take Him at His word and put it into practise. It’s found in Matthew 5:44,55. Jesus said,”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.”
    I began by praying for the person even when my feelings were so muddled. Then I did some good for the person. In so doing I set myself free from my prison of pain, anger, bitterness & unforgiveness & also gained that friend back.
    The Word of God works. We only need to put it into practise with His help.

    • Donny Thomas Kurien

      Thanks for those three tips
      1. “Then I decided to take Him at His word and put it into practise.”
      2. “I began by praying for the person even when my feelings were so muddled.”
      3. “Then I did some good for the person.”

      It is great!

    • Soumya

      Thanks Tara for the insight on this matter. Often, one may come across such a situation in the hardships of Christian life. And trust me, it is not easy to implement the above points that Donny has so beautifully and concisely mentioned here in his post! But we must.

      Why? The very first elements that are disrupted in such an act of betrayal (or the like) are the love and trust towards that person, which is hard to be repaired. You are bitter, wounded, traumatised and you cannot look peaceably towards the person from then on. But Jesus tells us to ‘Love’ our enemies (as you mentioned Matt5:44) – the very same love that has been broken by the treachery to be forcefully applied towards the person who has hurt us (this has to be by His grace). Subsequently, we are able to bless, do good and pray for such a person as mentioned in Lk 6:27,28 .

      You know, in Psalms 147:3, God is said to heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds. I believe praying for the enemy takes us to a greater level in the quality of Christian life. Its a two-in-one application: it heals us and it also heals the person whom we are praying for and brings that one to realisation (believe it or not!). Of course, it has its time, sometimes this happens soon or later. But I believe our prayers for the one who hurts us never goes in vain before our Heavenly Father. This is what I have understood so far. Any difference in understanding this matter is greatly appreciated! :)

      Great post Donny!

      • Donny Thomas Kurien

        Well said Sr Soumya. Yes it is difficult.

        Also unconditional love is a ‘choice’ not a mere feeling. So in such cases where a friend betrayed us the trust is broken, it is difficult to repair. But if we willfully ‘choose’ to ‘continue doing good’ then immediately we will feel as if we doing the same thing as Jesus and we know that we are not alone. Jesus also practiced the same which gives us courage and boldness.

        Also it takes a bit of self denial as Sr Joanna rightly mentioned below. We have to deny our self image and sometimes we will have to do an extra step to make sure that the above are practised. And as you said, it’s all possible only by His Grace and strength.

        And eventually the relationship may be restored with greater friendship. Our ultimate goal should be to maintain healthy relationships, since God values relationships.

        Thanks for your comments. Let’s seek His help more.

  • varun singh

    Superb dear. But really I don’t know how to follow it. Finding path…

  • Joshua Valson

    For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.! Blessed write up!

    • Donny Thomas Kurien

      Yes exactly. Also when we get to know a glimpse of the forgiveness God offers us, it becomes easy to forgive others.