Posted by: Rex Boyles | December 31, 2007

” … my close friend, whom I trusted …”

I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me;
       heal me, for I have sinned against you.” 

5 My enemies say of me in malice,
       “When will he die and his name perish?”

 6 Whenever one comes to see me,
       he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
       then he goes out and spreads it abroad.

 7 All my enemies whisper together against me;
       they imagine the worst for me, saying,

 8 “A vile disease has beset him;
       he will never get up from the place where he lies.”

 9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted,
       he who shared my bread,
       has lifted up his heel against me.
  (Psalm 41:4-9; NIV.)

The statement of sin and the appeal for mercy (v.4) … I have confessed privately – to those I have wronged and to those that know of my wrong. I have also admitted it publicly and will again in order to serve the purpose for which God restored me. So as I write these words, let there be no mistake. I was guilty and in need of mercy.

Not only did I have to face the consequences of my sin, I also experienced the malice – slander – whispers of enemies. But far worse was the betrayal by a friend – a close friend.

We were sitting at lunch, when he said, “I want to be your friend … I want you to be able to tell me anything … everything, BUT … “. He then proceeded to line up opposition against me, attempting to humiliate me … to keep me in my place, a disgraced preacher out of the ministry.

Another such “close” friend chose to write a letter to say, “I have stopped praying for you.”

And yet another time in a meeting with several “close” friends – most of whom wanted only to interrogate me about my sin (5 years after the fact) rather than to rejoice at my repentance … when one “close” friend said, “When I saw you the other day, I didn’t know whether I should shake your hand or not.”

I had confessed my sin to each of these men and to many more. Each of these so-called “close” friends are longtime ministers, preachers, and missionaries. They all preach the grace of God … retelling the parable of the prodigal son. But they chose to stand off from me like the “elder brother” – rather than celebrate my return. These were men I had known for years, and their duplicitous words and actions hurt in ways that I find difficult to describe – “kicked in the gut” – “wind knocked  out of me” – “broke my heart”. (It is important that you know – I understand why they passed by on the other side, and I do not blame them – though I do believe they were unfaithful to their calling as ministers of the grace of God.)

The moral of the story: the consequences of sin go beyond the pending wrath or judgment of God – that can be escaped by His mercy and grace. It opens your life to the slander and gossip of enemies and possible betrayal by close – trusted friends. Avoid such consequences – for your soul’s sake – for your heart’s sake – for your life’s sake. But if you find yourself the victim of your own shamefulness, confess the sin and beg for His mercy … and when enemies and friends assault you, find comfort in the truth that even a man after God’s own heart suffered the same consequences. (Even the innocent One understands how that betrayal feels. John 13:18)

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