When We Are Falsely Accused
Read Job 22:21-22
"Agree with God, and be at peace;thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart."
• How should a Christ-follower respond to false accusations?
• False accusations from others can compound our pain. What should you do during these moments?
• When we feel attacked, we must slow down and carefully choose a response that honors God. Sometimes that will be no response at all. Why do you think this is a necessary step at times?
Eliphaz decided it was time to give Job some "tough love" by pointing out how great his wickedness was. He was not talking in generalities this time but made several specific allegations. Eliphaz contended that Job had stolen from the poor, failed to give sustenance to the thirsty and hungry, turned away widows, and crushed orphans.
I can only imagine that these allegations pierced Job's soul. He was a man who feared God and shunned evil. Because of his long relationship with the Lord, his heart was likely softened toward widows and orphans, who hold a special place in God's heart. Just the thought that he had hurt them likely angered and offended him.
It's certainly understandable that Job was angry. Letting that anger dictate his response to Eliphaz would not help matters. Anger produces hurtful words, further escalating the situation as our adrenaline rises. As Solomon wrote, "A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back" (Proverbs 29:11 esv).
Job could have gotten defensive, pointing out all of the good things he had done. The problem is that Eliphaz had already reached his conclusion--that Job failed to take care of the poor. Job in essence would have to prove a negative--that he did not fail to do something. That's a nearly impossible task.
So how would Job navigate the pain from this salt Eliphaz had rubbed in his wounds? He didn't have to show up to the argument Eliphaz had invited him to attend. He could simply not respond directly to Eliphaz at all. Instead, he could rest in the assurance that his heart was right before God. And he could trust that his Lord would answer the accusations for him.
Jesus faced many accusations during His earthly ministry. At times, He addressed them directly (see, for example, Matthew 12:9-14). Other times He did not. When He was arrested and brought before Pilate, the elders brought many charges against Him. We read in Mark 15:3-5 (ESV): "And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, 'Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.' But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed."
In the moment, when our ears are searing from the harsh words against us, the pain and adrenaline urge us to respond quickly and decisively. Most of the time such a response only makes matters worse. We are wise to remember what Proverbs 11:9 (esv) says: "By knowledge the righteous are delivered." The false accusations may never be proven false this side of heaven and our accusers may always hold their negative opinions of us. Ultimately, though, it is not human opinion that matters.
Lord, the words of others pierce my heart when they falsely accuse. Help me to follow Jesus' example in how I respond. May I always remember that it's my relationship with You that truly matters. Amen.