"Eli said to her, ‘How long will you be intoxicated? Put wine away from you.'"
I Samuel 1: 14, Amplified Bible
"The Accuser and the Accusee"
"The (woman) who slurs some other (woman) is guiltier of just the same misdeed I'm sure, that (she) maintains the other is."
Christina de Pisan
Have I accused someone of a fault when in fact I was guilty of the same problem in my own life?
Why do I believe I am so quick to recognize faults in others but not in myself?
"Never put your finger on someone's faults unless it is part of a helping hand."
"Clean your fingers before you point at my spots."
Let's just say for a moment you were (or are) going through a desperate time in your life - a time when tears fill your eyes and sorrowful pleas pass from your lips. It is a time that breaks your spirit as well as your heart. And so, you decide, in a moment when you don't know where else to go or who else to turn to, to go to your local church. Hoping to find solace for the pain that seeks to steal your faith and rob you of any potential joy, you fall on your face, weeping before God.
All of a sudden you hear footsteps and a voice cries out to you, "You're drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!" (I Samuel 1: 14, The Message Bible). What would be your response to an accuser who accosted you in such a way while you were praying in God's house? Would you want to return to this church ever again? And what would be your opinion of a "pastor" who behaved like Eli did?
Coming upon the distraught Hannah as he did, before inquiring as to what was wrong, Eli pointed the finger of accusation as he assumed the worst about a woman in distress. And I wonder, "How often have I done the same thing?" In this world we live in, how quickly we find fault and point out the defects in others, never ever taking into consideration the circumstances that surround them. And worse yet, forgetting the failings that dot the landscape of our own lives.
I'll never forget a time in my life when someone I worked with accused me of something I did not do. I wasn't just hurt, I was devastated. To this very day, I can still remember exactly where I was standing when this woman wagged her finger in my face, stunning me with a lurid allegation that was based on a lie. I was charged, found guilty and sentenced in her mind before I could even open my mouth to defend myself. And as I later found out, no defense - even the facts that proved her wrong - could convince her of anything but what she had decided to believe about me. I'll confess, it took me years to get over this act of injustice. And later, when I found out this same lady had an illness which left her unable to speak, along with other friends, we formed a prayer circle to ask God to give her the healing she longed for, because during the subsequent years, God was able to work on my heart and show me what He showed Hannah, and it is that heavenly love is all we need to handle those who "falsely accuse us."
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in John 8: 3-5. Just like in Hannah's life, where it was a priest making accusations against her, so in Jesus' time it was the Scribes and Pharisees who, "brought to Him (Jesus) a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand in front, and then said to Him (Jesus), ‘Now, master, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.'" Doesn't it give you pause as you wonder how in the world these holy men knew what this woman was doing? It almost makes you think she might have been set-up by one of these wily fellows. With their "holier-than-thou" perception, they made their accusations. Interestingly enough, in the King James Version of the Bible, the phrase, "caught in" is translated, "taken in adultery." So I went to the Greek dictionary to research the word "taken in" and guess what it means? It indicates an "eagerness to catch." They wanted to get this girl! They overtook her to seize upon and possess her and haul her into court before Jesus. She was a pawn they were using to trick Jesus into contradicting the law. She was being used by her accusers and it got me to thinking about Eli's situation, too. It was possible that because of the abject rebellion of his own sons, Eli had a lot of fingers pointing at him and so, when he saw the strange acting Hannah, it gave him an opportunity to point an accusing finger at someone else so he could take the heat off himself.
In our society today, the ability to shout from the rooftops about another's failings, more frequently than not, are a shield one uses to cover their own faults and hide their own dark secrets.
There is an ancient saying that goes like this: "Do not do anything you hate to another. You do not like it when someone slanders you. Then do not slander anyone. You do not like it if someone denounces you falsely. Then do not denounce anybody. You do not like it if someone despises you, injures you, or steals something from you. Then do nothing of this sort to another."
Let us learn from Eli's experience with Hannah. For as Thomas Lye wrote, "The (woman) that is most busy in censuring others is always least employed in examining (herself)." And if we aren't careful, we may come to recognize that when we point one accusatory finger at another, we have three fingers pointing back at ourselves.
"Christians would never dream of intentionally running down other people with their cars; then why do we do it with our tongues."
When people speak falsely against me,
And when I speak falsely against them,
"But now put away and rid yourselves completely of…bad feelings toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self."
Colossians 3: 8, 9, Amplified Bible
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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