Have you ever been falsely accused of something? Maybe it was a small thing – someone claims you said a bad thing about a mutual friend, but you didn’t. Some false accusations can be very hard to prove and once the accusation is out there, it’s hard to counter it without sounding guilty! People assume that you did it before you ever have a chance to prove you didn’t. Also, how do you prove it? Proving a he-said/she-said crime when there is no evidence is one of the hardest of all. It is almost impossible to prove what someone did or did not say.
It’s frustrating and can hurt or make you angry. I have been falsely accused. My first husband, Don, and I were accused of stealing money from the church we were pastoring! The accusation was proven false the first time that person counted an offering and realized there was nothing to steal! However, even after the person admitted they were wrong, there was still anger and pain. Our conscience was clear but the accusation was still made.
Paul – Falsely Accused by His Own People
“Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” Acts 23:1 NIV
In the passage we are looking at today, Paul has been falsely accused by his own people – the Jews. They viewed him as a traitor because he had left his faith, converted to Christianity, and then began ministering to the Gentiles. They wanted him dead. Paul had actually stopped killing people and was a much kinder, gentler person but they didn’t care. They had hated Jesus and they hated Paul.
Regardless, Paul informed them that his conscience was clear! He even apologized for lashing out at Ananias after he realized that he was railing against the Chief Priest. Paul knew he would be imprisoned but he did not falter. He maintained a clear conscience in a situation where it would have been easy to say what the crowd wanted to hear just to save himself.
The Frustration and Pain of False Accusations
Being falsely accused is frustrating, Imagine that you are falsely accused and then sit in prison for the next 2 years just waiting to go to trial! That’s what Paul did. Could you maintain a clear conscience?
Talk about showing integrity! Paul did not get angry, and he never compromised his conscience or faith at all. He forgave his accusers just as Jesus had done. That’s hard to do sometimes. We know we should but the pain can seem overwhelming.
How Do We Deal With It?
So how do we deal with being falsely accused? In the world, you can sue someone for making false accusations that may have damaged your brand, reputation, or business. How do you do that within Christian circles? Could we have sued the person who falsely accused us of stealing? Not really. It was just words. He had no proof and no charges were filed. False words are the worst because there is almost no recourse. You are left helpless, depending upon the people who know you best to see through to the truth they know about you. Yet, it happens all the time.
One of the buzz words of our day is “Fake News.” There really is fake news out there and we are left with the job of trying to discern what is true and what is false. I just saw a post on Facebook where a company had supposedly made a response to a person who did not like one of their ads and the company referred to them as having a “cold, dead heart.” Just below the post, someone had done a fact check and it turns out that what appeared to be a published article was actually all a lie! But how many people read and believed the article before someone actually did a fact-check on it! Damage may have been done.
Circumstances We Can’t Control
We have all heard of cases where someone spent years in prison because of a false accusation. Their life has been stolen from them. A twenty-year-old who is put in prison till he’s fifty can never regain those years. They are gone. How do you deal with that?
There is only one way and it is the same way we must deal with all circumstances in which we are unable to control circumstances which are inflicted upon us. Our house burns down because of the neighbor’s backyard fire. We are in a terrible accident caused by a drunk driver and permanently disabled. Our child is killed in a school shooting. While these are not false accusations, the principle is the same. Nothing we can do will change the circumstance. We did not cause it and we can’t change it.
How do we deal with it? Forgiveness. We must accept that which we cannot control in life and accept that life brings terribly difficult and painful things our way. We don’t have to like it but, unless we want to live in the realm of if-only for the rest of our lives, we must learn to overcome and forgive. Forgiveness is not so much for the other person. It is for us. If someone hurts me and I forgive, I am actually setting myself free from them and their actions or words.
The refusal to forgive is like refusing to stop carrying around a pile of stinking, rotting garbage. Whatever the other person did is not changed and neither are they. I just finally realize that I don’t have to carry this mess with me for the rest of my life. Unforgiveness is rotting, stinking garbage that simply breeds depression, anger, bitterness and all sorts of bad fruit in our lives. You are the only one affected by it. Yet, we often refuse to let go. Forgiveness does not signify approval of what the other person did. Nor does it mean we suddenly forget what they did. We may never forget. Forgiveness simply means that we move forward free of that other person’s hold on our lives.
Using the Situation to Check Our Conscience
Paul knew this. He was able to see beyond the moment into God’s will. While the behavior of the Jews was despicable and wrong, Paul was not going to join them. He knew that, regardless of their hatred, God loved them. He was able to rest in God’s arms in spite of the injustice he was enduring. In fact, he utilized his time preaching to the guards!
Being falsely accused is our opportunity to check our conscience. Is it clear in relationship to the accusation? If so, then God will handle the rest. If it isn’t clear, then we need to utilize the situation to clean up that area of our mind, heart, and conscience. Perhaps our core beliefs need some shifting and realigning with the Word of God. Take the opportunity to examine yourself – without condemnation – and simply use the Word to renew that area of your mind.
Now read the Devotional and journal your thoughts. Remember, our goal is to renew our minds and conscience and it is a process best helped through repetition. You can do it!
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**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
Links to Blogs you may have missed
Day 1 – 24 Day Challenge – Renewing Your Mind and Conscience
Day 2 – Living By the Golden Rule