I spent some time this morning studying the Scriptures on “false accusation”. It is no surprise that there is much to say about it. Let it suffice to say, that a wise person would have no part in it nor should they participate in it by immediately receiving an accusation which has yet to be proven in an appropriate (biblical) manner. A false accusation can literally stain a person’s reputation for years. Of all the injustices any person may face, the sting of a false accusation is sometimes the worst. There is often no way to prove you did not do what someone says you did do. It all boils down to your character, reputation, and life’s fruit.
I have been monitoring the recent accusations concerning Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore which have been relentlessly shared through mainstream and social media. I do not personally know Roy Moore, but I do know many of his friends who are close to the judge and they are solidly convinced that he has been targeted with false accusations. It is not my intent with this blog to rewrite the accusations nor vacillate back and forth on this incident concerning the veracity or incredulity of these claims. Time has a way of shedding light on these things and while truth is sometimes slow, you can usually count on it showing up. I know Judge Moore’s testimony of being a believer and his nearly 40 years of impeccable reputation, so I am confident that God will indeed have the last say in this matter. Whatever your inclination may be to believe, truth will win out. My purpose in this writing, however, is to simply share some thoughts with regards to how we walk with our brethren when they come under accusation which may indeed be false.
I know the sting of accusation. I suspect many who are reading this blog have tasted of that trial as well. I know the feeling of being powerless to address either the fabrication or the misconstruing of certain events that have been twisted or convoluted for my destruction. What is being said about me is either a lie or a complete spin of what is actually the truth. And then to watch those who are brothers and sisters in the Lord, who have walked with me for years, in turn receive such accusations without as much as a conversation with me to weigh the matter completely is frankly…disappointing. The raw truth, however, is that the reason the Bible speaks to such things so voluminously is because the road of false accusation is one few believers escape from walking down. This is not to say that some accusations might indeed be the truth, but to immediately embrace a report without proper examination is not only unfair, it is unbiblical.
As a pastor, I have come to realize that people who are visible and influential will attract those small souls who feel they have a purpose in “bringing you down”. I do not understand this mentality, but I know beyond a doubt it exists. These people are opportunistic in their zeal to uncover whatever real or perceived flaw or sin the target person might have done. They find some sadistic joy in watching the accused person twist in the wind of rumors and live on the convoluted hope that they will be near when the accused person crashes under the weight of public opinion. Accusers understand that the vast majority of the public tend to believe evil reports. People are easily seeded with false reports as it conveniently plays to innate skepticism and cynicism. Tabloids make millions on just this principle. Apparently, so do contemporary “journalists”. When people who once had access and power find their influence dwindling, they look for ways to bring the influential down. Pastors have been accustomed to this for centuries. People who have an agenda, an offense, an evil need to destroy the leader will go to extraordinary lengths to accomplish that goal. Most leaders, like Paul, have their “Alexander the coppersmith”.
The question before us as believers is, “How do I navigate these times, especially when a fellow believer is under the scrutiny of accusation?” Do we immediately receive such a report? Do we distance ourselves so there is no possibility our credibility can be undermined by our apparent support of a possible “evil-doer”? Do we crawl up into the bleachers and watch the battle of accusation v. defense and then announce our support or disdain once the dust settles?
Not long ago an influential and visible Christian brother in our area came under an accusation of significance. This brother had a long and consistent reputation as an integral person and one who demonstrated impeccable Christian character. Since he was an attorney, as well as a notable past political candidate, it garnered no small degree of interest. The media reported the incident with it’s usual air of arrogance suggesting his lack of integrity. The brother posted a short social media defense which explained the situation and his request for patience. I was amazed at the response of Christian brothers and sisters. Some were swift to accept the report of the media. Others instantly offered their unqualified support. The whole incident was instructive to me as to how one believer should handle another believer when they find themselves under a potential “false accusation”.
1. I recognize I am living in a hostile and adverse time for Christians in America.
A person’s Christian testimony and reputation no longer guarantees a fair or just handling by the media. In fact, a visible and outspoken Christian may expect just the opposite. I have often referred to the main-stream media as the modern day “Philistines” to the Church of Jesus Christ. They cannot be trusted. I have had too many interactions from journalists and editors to accept their sense of “objectivity” without significant skepticism. I can testify by first-hand experience that the media will not handle Christian leaders unbiasedly. So, for me, when an influential Christian brother is accused by media or political forces, I am slow to naively receive such accusation without properly investigating the supposed claims of all parties.
2. Long term Christian reputation and character deserves the benefit of the doubt.
When a person has walked several decades with integrity and character, that deserves consideration. I was asked on one occasion to testify before a South Carolina sub-committee concerning a person’s character with regards to an accusation they were facing. I told the members that this person was of good character and as a pastor I had watched their life for over 15 years. I also mentioned that the reason this was significant was because most people can only fake good character for about 6 months. The committee laughed out loud. Why? Because they knew the observation to be true. People can only fake integrity and character for a short period of time before the “real” person manifests. A decades long resume of a person’s character deserves the benefit of the doubt before they are thrown under the bus of public opinion.
3. Jesus became of no reputation to walk with me.
The Scripture is clear that Jesus became of no reputation to hang out with us. He suspended His right to maintain His reputation in order to reach out and walk with a fallen humanity. My prayer for years has been that I become more like Jesus. I understand the need for a good reputation with man and with God, but sometimes we become so concerned about our own image that we walk away from friends who might need us. If I see a credible brother under the onslaught of accusation from a Philistine Press Corp, I need to support them until such time ALL the facts are in. Christians should not be “fair-weather” friends to one another. We need to stand with those who have both confessed our same faith and walked with longevity the Christian walk.
4. Receiving a false accusation too quickly is worse than being innocently deceived.
Everyone needs to do a personal Bible study on false accusation. The amount of revelation directed at this phenomena warrants the question as to “why”? Why would God put that much information, wisdom and precept concerning this dynamic? I believe it’s because He knows the propensity of the human heart. He knows how susceptible we are to both speaking accusations and receiving accusations. I maintain that my patience in waiting for the truth to be made manifest while supporting my accused brother in no way makes me culpable for any possible bombshell. Better I be accused of being naive through innocence rather than being judged by God for supporting a “false witness”.
5. Consider their friends.
Friends speak volumes concerning a person’s character. You can always fool a few people, but to fool numbers of good discerning people (while possible) is more challenging. There’s an old saying which goes, “Birds of a feather flock together”. The integrity and endorsement of a group of friends says something to those weighing an accusation. I will stipulate that in every Apple barrel the possibility exists that you may indeed find a rotten one, however, an abundance of good fruit in any barrel would lead one to assume that it’s a quality barrel. If an accused person is running with an integral crowd, that deserves some consideration.
6. Consider their adversaries and accusers.
An accusation is tied to people’s credibility. This is a foundation stone of American jurisprudence. This is why we face our accusers and have opportunity for cross examination and why a jury of multiple people render verdicts which are said to be beyond “reasonable” doubt. The media and slanderers do not have to yield to that process on most occasions. They can accuse and be on their merry way. Adversaries can pounce and be thought morally virtuous. The story of Joseph is a prime example of a virtuous man being falsely accused by a spurned woman. By today’s standard most people would stand with Potiphar’s wife without any appropriate scrutiny of the accusation. The story of Joseph feels so relevant despite being thousands of years old because we know these things happen. We also know that adversaries, like Joseph’s brothers, seize opportunities to remove godly influence from their environment. Pay attention to those who accuse and those who jump on the band-wagon. Their character and integrity must be weighed as well.
7. What you sow in these moments, you shall reap.
One day we all shall fall under the weight of false accusation. It’s a part of human existence. People will lie on us. When that moment happens, rest assured that how you handled your brother’s accusation will come back to be applied to you. The principle of reciprocity (sowing and reaping) is clearly taught in the Scripture. Be careful of the seed you cast in moments like these lest you find yourself in your own harvest of accusation.
My instinct at this moment is to support Roy Moore both as a Christian brother and a senate candidate. I am not from Alabama so I cannot vote for him, but I would counsel my Christian friends from that state to hold steady before you believe these reports. There is plenty of time to pick up rocks and throw them should something be more firmly established regarding these accusations (by the way, that line was sarcasm). The media and Washington D.C. are dark places right now. Divination is at work in our nation and many stories are being twisted and tangled for nefarious and evil purposes.
Let’s be wise…
Let’s be patient..,
Let’s wait for the truth train to pull into the station…
That’s the train I’m boarding.