Summary: With God’s help, we can respond appropriately to those who treat us badly.
How to Deal with False Accusations
Intro: Have you ever been falsely accused of something? How did that make you feel? In high school I was accused of something I would never have thought of doing. One of the city policemen told one of my friends that he’d heard from a reliable source that I had intimidated a grown man into buying alcohol for me. Apparently I had threatened to beat him up if he didn’t do it. Well, I don’t recommend anyone doing what I did. I hopped in my car, and my mom insisted on going along, and I pulled over the policeman and confronted him about it. I told him he was welcome to search my car. Well, he didn’t believe me, so I just let the matter drop, and nothing ever came of it.
-People generally feel indignant when they are accused of something they did not do. It is a difficult thing to deal with when you are misunderstood and misjudged. All Stephen wanted to do was help people. He was living in obedience to Jesus and was sharing the good news of God’s forgiveness with everyone he could. Unfortunately, he was falsely accused, just like Jesus was.
-How should we deal with false accusations? Different situations may call for different reactions, but I believe we can find some principles to guide us as we look more closely at the verses we read. The main point of today’s sermon is this:
Prop: With God’s help, we can respond appropriately to those who treat us badly.
TS: Let’s look at a few of these principles that will help us deal with false accusations.
I. Live a Life of Integrity
-We have already read about Stephen’s character. The general requirement for the 7 men chosen to serve back in v.3 was that they were known to be full of the Spirit of God and wisdom. So Stephen fit this, but he is also singled out as being full of faith and the Holy Spirit. V.8 says he was full of grace and God’s power.
-I think we could safely say that Stephen was a man of integrity. He had solid character based on his relationship with Jesus.
-Stephen could humbly, yet boldly answer his accusers, along with the entire Sanhedrin as he stood before them, because he had nothing to be ashamed of. If the song had been written then, he could have sung, “It Is Well with My Soul,” and would have been telling the truth. Perhaps Paul had someone like Stephen in mind when he wrote about the qualifications of a deacon: 1 Timothy 3:8-10 8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.”
-It is very likely that Paul (or his Hebrew name Saul) was a member of the Sanhedrin as Stephen stood before them. In Acts 8 Luke does say that Paul was there giving approval to Stephen’s death. As Luke was writing the book of Acts, he most likely interviewed Paul and got his version of things as they happened. If so, Paul related that Stephen’s face was like that of an angel. Whether he was using imagery to describe his character, or whether his face had a literal physical glow to it we cannot be sure. But we can be sure that Stephen was a man of integrity and was not guilty of the things that he was accused of.
-Peter writes about suffering for doing wrong and shows that it is not noble for us to humbly take the punishment we deserve. 1 Peter 2:20 says, 20”But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” Stephen suffered for doing good and was falsely accused.
-How then can we have integrity? Integrity indicates wholeness. If we have committed our entire heart and life to Jesus Christ, then we are in all the way. We aren’t partially faithful, partially honest, or partially saved. We are complete in Christ because He completes us. Integrity begins with a right relationship with Christ, because without Him we can never be whole. Without Him, we will miss what we were created for- a loving relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
-When we are falsely accused about something, a life testimony of integrity, honesty, and faithfulness is the best witness in our case. If the accusation is out of character with our life and reputation, then the absurdity of the accusation will be evident to many. However, if it seems like something we would do, then our life testimony needs an overhaul.