Isaiah 53:7 – “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
As the middle child in a family with five children, I had my fair share of squabbles and disagreements. Being physically weaker than my siblings, I needed an arsenal that would counter the usual sibling rivalry battle strategies. I couldn’t win battles by slapping, poking, or hair pulling. I couldn’t outrun my adversaries. I knew that I would always be the last to reach my mother when all else failed. Yes, I was careful to pick my battles, and as I tried to avoid conflict, such battles were not many.
However, on the occasions that I would fight back, my weapons of warfare were deadly. Even at a young age, I knew how to manipulate the truth. I learned to wait until just the right moment to plant a pointed insult, and I knew how to finish off my opponent with a snide, sarcastic blow. My timing was impeccable. As a writer, I know the power of my words. I ask God to keep me on a short leash and I welcoming his warning when I am tempted to fall into such churlish behaviour as an adult.
Although I definitely was not always the innocent one as a child, there were a few occasions where I was falsely accused. One such time remains the object of much laughter in my family. It took place when I was six, and my younger brother was four. Injustice stung as I received a spanking for his crime. I did not go quietly into the night. My protests were as loud and clear as only a six-year-old girl could make them. “I didn’t do it! I’m the good kid, remember? Hey, wait a minute, this isn’t fair!” The thirst for sweet revenge overwhelmed me. Forgiveness toward my accuser was slow in coming, but eventually, I did forgive the little rascal.
As false accusations will come against you, learn how to deal with them.
At an alarming rate, Christians face false accusations in the media and the marketplace. People misunderstand our motivations and intentions. Pastors sermons are taken out of context and plastered across social media as evidence to prove the biblical unsoundness of their teaching. Elders give an innocent side-hug to a hurting member of the church and rumours of infidelity soon follow. When a pastor’s wife takes an active role in church life, she is labelled as a usurper of authority. If that wife takes employment outside the church to supplement her husband’s meagre income, people accuse her of being materialistic. A small group leader speaks a fitting word of praise to someone in their group; the recipient takes the encouragement as a patronising insult. Such is the life of many in ministry.
At such times, it can be tempting to throw a six-year-old sized temper tantrum. “I didn’t do it! I’m the good kid, remember? Hey, wait a minute, this isn’t fair!” It’s all too easy to wallow in self-pity. We find it almost impossible to forgive.
It is natural to wince at the sting of injustice, and yet Jesus asks us to follow the example he set before us.
Amid horrible betrayal, false accusations and incredulous slander, Jesus didn’t defend himself. He didn’t stage a counter-attack against his accusers. When the rulers of the tribunal demanded that he speak, Jesus didn’t refute the charges brought against Him. Instead, He spoke the truth.
Matthew 26:62-64 – “And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
And then… Jesus took it one step further. While hanging on the cross and in indescribable pain, Jesus did not call down legions from Heaven to smite His accusers. Quite the contrary. Summoning up the tiny bit of strength he had remaining, Jesus cried out to His heavenly Father. “Forgive them!” He relinquished his right for retribution, his future, and his very life into His Father’s hands. Our Saviour took his last breath free from unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness.
“If I am perturbed by the reproach and misunderstanding that may follow action taken for the good of souls for whom I must give account; if I cannot commit the matter and go on in peace and in silence, remembering Gethsemane and the cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” – Amy Carmichael
God promises to battle on our behalf. But he can only do so when we relinquish our carnal weapons of self-defence. As we follow Christ’s example of forgiveness and relinquishment, the Balm of Gilead stands ready to heal our wounded hearts.
Be accountable to others if you know you fall into the traps of self-justification and self-defensive attitudes. Make sure they are people who love and respect you and who will speak the truth in a loving, affirming, yet honest way.
Choose to forgive and to move on when your words, actions, and motivations are misrepresented by others. Attempting to defend your heart against someone’s preconceived ideas about you will not end well usually. Love well, be authentic, be quick to apologise when you do mess up, and go on with your life.
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
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Until Next Week,
©2020 Katherine Walden