Friday, December 11, 2015

Dealing with False Accusations

Be not silent, O God of my praise! For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened 
against me speaking against me with lying tongues. They beset me with 
words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, 
even as I make prayer for them. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

(Psalms 109:1-5 RSV)

Have you ever been falsely accused? Perhaps you overheard friends speaking ill of you at a party or heard "through the grapevine" about a horrible rumor about you. Maybe you have even been confronted with an ugly accusation by someone, and despite your explanations, they refused to believe you.

Accusations are damaging and harmful. It is because of this that God condemns gossip and slander repeatedly throughout the Bible. In fact, making false accusations is considered just as great a sin as adultery or murder.

1. Respond with gentleness. The Bible says that "a soft answers turns away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1). This doesn't always solve the problem, but it opens doors for resolution on your end. Always seek to be compassionate and gentle.

2. Show tangible acts of love. Scripture tells us that "love is kind" (1 Corinthians 13:4). Kindness is a word that must be expressed if it truly exists. The idea here is that love results in kind deeds. Go out of your way to do acts of kindness for the person who is making false accusations. Invite them to dinner. Send them a birthday card. Drop off a freshly baked pie. 

3. Praise God for them. Regularly thank God for this person. True, they are currently being used by Satan to slander and accuse you, but recognize where God is working in their life. If they are gifted in a particular area, praise God for that gift. If you remember wonderful times with them in the past, thank God for those memories. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 to think about whatever is right, noble, true, and commendable.

4. Pray for them. Pray for this sin that is gripping their life. Yes, their sin is hurting you, but it is hurting them far worse. The only thing damaged is your reputation but they are damaging their standing before God and their effectiveness in God's Kingdom. Worse yet, they are damaging the cause of Christ. Pray for their softening, for reconciliation, and their repentance. 

5. Decide not to retaliate. Let's face it, sometimes gentleness and kindness simply don't work, which the writer of Psalm 109 understood all too well. He wrote "In return for my love they accuse me, even as I make prayer for them. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love." Despite all his best efforts, they responded to his love with hatred, and his acts of kindness with further insults. Believers shouldn't be surprised when this happens, because anger is a dangerous, venomous thing. But live in such a way that it may never be said you returned evil for evil.

6. Recognize that often the accuser isn't after truth. The psalmist said his accusers had "deceitful mouths" and "lying tongues". Some years ago I remember being confronted by a fellow believer demanding to know why I had not sought out another believer who had left the church. When I explained that I had sought him out dozens of times, and continued to seek him out only to be constantly rebuffed, the brother said "I just spoke to him and he said you've never even tried to contact him." In this other person's anger he resorted to telling lies, and there was nothing I could do about it other than give it to the Lord. In my experience, gossips and slanderers almost always prefer lies over truth and distortions over clarity.

7. Live to please the Lord. A good reputation is a wonderful thing and it is terrifying to think how it can be ruined through no fault of your own. But in the end, we live to please our Lord. I remember one well-meaning brother coming to me, alarmed at what some were saying. He told me "you must put a stop to this! They will ruin your ministry." I replied that I didn't have to put a stop to anything. These other people were welcome to ruin my ministry because it was never mine to begin with. It belongs to the Lord. 

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