New Hope Notes
When You Are Falsely Accused
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
All of us will be falsely accused; itís inevitable. In fact, the more public, influential, or powerful you become, the more false accusations may be hurled at you. Someone once said: ìOften people will put you on a pedestal so they will have better aim at hitting you.î The Bible says.î Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.î (2 Tim. 3:12) And thatís just how it is. The question is how will you respond to it?
ìFor this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.î (1 Peter 2:19-20)
So there will be times when we are persecuted unjustly. What then do we do when that happens? You see people will often forget the accusation, but they will remember your response to it. So here are THREE PINCIPLES that will assist you in your response to unjust criticism.
1. MISTAKES AND ACCUSATIONS ARE INEVITABLE.
Remember, it happened with Joseph. First he was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. Then Potipherís wife gets upset with Joseph because he was a righteous man and chose to refuse her advances. So in retaliation, she falsely accuses him before her husband of trying to take advantage of her. So of course Potipher was angered. Hereís what happened afterwards:
"Now it came about when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, 'This is what your slave did to me,' his anger burned. So Joseph's master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king's prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail." (Gen. 39:19-20) Joseph was put in jail for wanting to serve God and do what was right.
ìIndeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.î (2 Tim. 3:12). ìCalling to those who pass by, Who are making their paths straight.î (Prov. 9:15)
In other words, what is your track record? What are you known for? Build it before accusations are launched against you. "Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, And I have trusted in the LORD without wavering." (Psalm 26:1) Circle the words, ìwalkedî and ìtrusted.î Those are both past tense, which means David was already doing these things.
"And keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame." (1 Pet. 3:16)
In order to keep a good conscience, you must keep your life as straight as you can. Remember that the greatest recourse against a false accusation is a good testimony or a consistent track record. This is what Jesus did. In fact, they called Him a drunkard and someone who frequented prostitutes. However, those things didnít bother Him because His testimony was built before those accusations were launched.
I remember getting a letter from a woman saying she was offended by a joke I told. She was so angry. So I wrote a gracious letter back apologizing because my intent is never to offend anyone. I often tell jokes so people will relax and let their defenses down. Then they are able to hear the word God has for them.
And of course I hurt when I get letters like that that accuse me of something falsely. So the Lord will ask, ìAre you trying to offend people or help them?î And my heart is never to offend, but always to do my best to help people. Then the Lord said to me, ìThen learn to suffer wellî. Thus, the second principle to help you respond when falsely accused is toÖ
2. SUFFER FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. (1 Pet. 3:17).
Weíre all going to suffer. If you are good, you will suffer. If you are bad, you will suffer. Therefore, suffer for the right reasons. If you are reproved and have done wrong take steps to correct it. You see a lot of us have never learned to suffer well. Weíve learned to accept applause, adulation, and trophies, but we donít know how to suffer well. A lot of times when we are falsely accused, we suffer angrily. We retaliate and are vengeful. However, the Lord reminds us that He can handle it all. So when you are falsely accused, do not be so quick to retaliate because the Lord is doing something in your life.
I remember as a youth pastor, Iíd have lunch with kids on high school campuses. They were in my youth group, but other kids would come by and ask questions as we talked. So Iíd take out my Bible and try my best to answer their questions. And though the teachers were aware of what I was doing, they began to mock me and call me ìMr. Gospelî. After a while it wasnít funny anymore. One day I grumbled to God and said that I was sick and tired of them mocking me. Then God showed up. He said, ìThey are calling you Mr. Gospel and that bothers you. Can you think of anything else in the world that you would rather be identified with? Is their anything that you would be more honored and blessed than to be identified with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?î I realized then that I had not learned to suffer well.
Therefore, if we donít learn to suffer well, we would have stepped over something we should have picked up and adored. We would push aside something that should be something of great value. Remember God is doing something in our lives. So be careful when we get falsely accused, donít be so quick to retaliate and suffer poorly becauseÖ
3. GODíS PLANS ARE NEVER THWARTED BY MAN.
God has a ministry for this church. And it doesnít matter how much hate mail, accusations, or angry words I receive. However, if I can say forget it and resign, Godís plans wonít come to pass. And it will not be because of those letters. Rather it will be because of my reaction to them. If you are falsely accused and blamed for something you didnít do, donít worry because Godís plans are never frustrated by manís mistakes.
ìBut the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph's charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for itî. (Gen. 39:21-22)
Look how God fashioned a heart in Joseph for those who were suffering. What Joseph didnít realize was that God had a plan for him. And that was to be the Pharaohís right hand (one of the most powerful men in the world). Yet although Joseph didnít know that, he still served and trusted God even in prison. Then little by little he began to develop a heart for those who suffered. He developed a compassion for those who didnít have resources. Joseph learned all he neeed to know to steward what God was about to entrust to him in prison under false accusation. He built a heart ready to do Godís work. His mercy grew greater than his power. And he became known more for his servant-heartedness than for his crown, wealth, or position. So when he was face to face with his brothers, he was bound by an inner commitment to help them because they were suffering. He could have retaliated because they betrayed him, but he had compassion instead. Where did he learn all that and how was his heart softened? It was through suffering. However, if he suffered poorly by being bitter and retaliated against his brothers, God would have never allowed him to become one of the greatest men in the world.
So what others meant for evil, God used in an amazing way. And although Joseph didnít know that at the time, God intended all that happened in order for Joseph to choose to respond correctly. Joseph suffered well even when being falsely accused and forgotten in prison. And he learned that man could never hinder Godís plans and thatÖ
The Lord can take anything and turn it into something spectacular. He can take false accusations and turn them into something absolutely amazing. He did it with Joseph. And when Joseph finally met his brothers, who accused him falsely his response wasÖ
ìAnd as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.î (Gen. 50:20)
God can use anything if we will learn to suffer correctly. Now do we ever defend ourselves? Well, sure but do that in appealing for truth and never retaliation or vengeance. When someone does us wrong, even some Christians think it gives us credence to completely revile anyone we want to just because we are right. But be careful because when itís all said and done, people will forget the accusation. However, they will remember what are true character is. Remember that God wants us to suffer well even when we are falsely accused because He is building and training us for His purpose.
ìAnd we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposeî. (Rom. 8:28)
Itís not if we are falsely accused, itís how we respond to what God calls us to do. So if we will remember three principles. People make mistakes and accusations are inevitable, so pattern a life of integrity. Secondly, suffer for the right reasons because people will often forget the accusation, but theyíll remember how your respond to it. And finally, remember no one can deter Godís plans because He can use anything for His purposes.
So when you look back over all you have been through, God will show you how He has not wasted any hurt in your life. Go back to the cross. Thatís because the cross is a reminder of how one man was falsely accused and died. Then as a result, bought the offer of salvation to the whole world.
Say mahalo to volunteer Rich Wilbur for this week's summary!