Don’t accuse falsely. Of course not.
But why the concern? If we always speak what is true, why be concerned?
The concern is for what we might be doing UN-intentionally.
It is easy to ACCUSE before we KNOW. Our goal is high and takes a lot of careful watching to attain. Hear James describe it:
James 3:17 17…the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
This rules out all kinds of ill feelings. In fact, if everything we say and feel is “from above” and is first PURE then PEACEABLE, where is there place for any ill feelings?
There is no place for them. Yet we are so prone to this little-thought-of vice of falsely accusing, or accusing something we don’t KNOW that much about, that kills the spirit of brotherly kindness. Why?
Because it is so easy to accept or believe something that is less than the truth.
And so easy to accuse when we don’t have all the facts.
I want to relate a little experience here.
We have had a renter-resident on our premises who had a car with a very offending muffler. It should have been fixed long ago, but he apparently didn’t have the money, so it didn’t happen. An occasional run you could forgive, but this man was constantly coming and going. Or so it seemed.
One day when he was up and down the street so many times you almost wondered if he was trying to be heard…
One day when he was going back and forth many times, I was working in a part of the house where I couldn’t see him, but I surely HEARD him.
When my Christian sister came along, I made some kind of negative comment to her about him. She said promptly, You shouldn’t be accusing, because you don’t KNOW that it is all him. There could be other cars with the same problem.
Of course. That wasn’t the way I was thinking at the moment, but she was right. Just right.
Don’t accuse when you don’t know.
A little subsequent observing and I soon saw at least two other just-as-noisy vehicles, and if you weren’t seeing them, you wouldn’t know they were a different vehicle.
It is a point well taken. Know before you accuse.
Better to say nothing than to accuse falsely.
Anything we have not verified might be less than the total truth … might be false … might be a lie.
Anything not verified might be an assault on truth and justice.
It isn’t just about what we say. The lesson comes at us from many directions. It might be from
Accepting unverified information
Believing information we question but still assume to be true
Drawing our own wrong (false) conclusion
What is the warning from Scripture?
Proverbs 17:15 15He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.
It is equally wrong to 1) justify one who is wrong; or 2) Condemn when one is right. Either is “an abomination to the Lord.”
Job describes God’s absolute fairness:
Job 34:10–11 10”… Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to commit iniquity. 11For He repays man according to his work, And makes man to find a reward according to his way.
It is God’s absolute plan of fairness repeated ALL through Scripture, again and again and again:
Jeremiah 17:10 10I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
Justice ALWAYS. Just according to what we do. This is the standard we have to require of ourselves as well. It isn’t only about GOD’S way of working. It must become OUR WAY also.
When we come to applying it, the issue is not WHO is involved but only what is TRUE and RIGHT. What did Paul command?
Ephesians 4:25 25Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
A lie is an intentional covering of the facts. We certainly want to avoid that.
But there is another angle, and that is the danger of accepting something as true from a non-factual source, something we are not CERTAIN is true.
This is why we are non-political. Who can KNOW when the politicians are speaking what is FALSE or TRUE?
In general, it is obvious that they regard their image and what people think ABOVE the truth. How can we safely believe ANY report from the media, unless we know firsthand what was said or done? There is so much UN-truth circulated, so much pseudo reporting, so many lies, so many contradictions, and FEW known and verifiable “facts.” So blatant are the lies that one wonders if they are done intentionally so that the listener can choose the story to his or her liking and let the other go!
There are several commands about lying:
Proverbs 26:28 28A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin.
Proverbs 12:19 19The truthful lip shall be established forever, But a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Then should we verify before we believe anything?
No, it isn’t realistic. We don’t have access to the right information.
Secondly, it isn’t worth our time. We are better advised to follow the principle in Scripture and not be involved in ANY position either for or against.
Look closely, and you will see this very principle in the first Psalm. Think about what these most familiar verses are saying to us. It is telling us the kind of company to AVOID.
Psalm 1:1 1Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
To get God’s blessing, keep away from the ungodly, sinful and scornful.
What politician could you find who 1) does not WALK with the ungodly; 2) who does not STAND (stay) in the path of sinners, or 3) who does not SIT with the scornful?
We are commanded to avoid companying with all such. This advice from the Psalms pulls us completely out of the current culture.
What is the right counter for this sort of company?
Psalm 1:2 2But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
“His DELIGHT in the law of God!” What is fresh, clean, pure … it is a whole different atmosphere to breathe!
There was another law in Israel bearing on this point of falsely accusing. What was the ninth commandment?
Exodus 20:16 16”You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
How serious was God about this law? Recall that the penalty for bearing false witness was DEATH. That is how important it was to say nothing but the truth about another person! There was another command in the law:
Leviticus 19:16 16You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.
Exodus 23:2 2You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.
Another RED light: Don’t follow an idea just because it is popular. It always feels good to be accepted and approved and have people “like” you.
But there is double danger here: perverting justice by 1) taking the wrong side, and 2) influencing others to do the same.
In God’s view it is VERY important to be just, to be truthful. If we err, it is safer to err on the side of withholding the accusation.
Paul takes it even one step further:
Romans 12:17 17Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
There is a very good proverb that says this:
Proverbs 21:15 15It is a joy for the just to do justice, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.
“It is joy to the just to do judgment.” What is that saying? Let’s try another translation:
“When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous.” (ESV)
“Doing what is right fills the upright with joy.” (NJB)
Isn’t it true? Doing what is right gives us deep joy. It is a point of victory, we mastered something that is pleasing to God.
It all starts with holding back that accusation that we are NOT SURE is all true. One more thought here:
James 1:19 19So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
Jesus said it also:
Luke 3:14 14Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
Plain and simple. Like our thought about our words: TASTE your words before you let them pass your lips.
If we do this, we won’t be accusing anyone falsely.