Vol.XIX No.IV Pg.6
June 1982

Handling Accusations

Joe Fitch

Accusations impose inescapable duties on all concerned. Consider.

There is an unavoidable duty to justice. A witness to evil cannot ignore the wrong. "And if a soul sin, ...and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity" (Lev. 5:1). Like it or not, he is involved. His only choice — to sin or be an accuser.

Every accuser has a basic duty to prove his charge. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established" (2 Cor. 13:1). "One witness shall not rise against a man for any iniquity... at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established" (Deut. 19:15). Such testimony — or other definite proof — shows the accusation to be fact.

Three possibilities follow the accusation. The accuser is obligated in each case. First, the accuser may prove his accusation. He is not yet finished. He must seek to restore the accused (Gal. 6:1 Mt. 18:15-). Secondly, the accusation may be true, but unprovable. It is possible to see a sin committed, and be unable to prove it (Deut. 19:15). Nevertheless, there is still the duty to restore the sinful brother. Love for him allows no less; duty forbids ignoring it. If the man accused refuses to hear and denies his sin, others cannot be expected to treat him as guilty without proof. It is a stalemate; justice awaits the judgement of God. Thirdly, the accusation may be untrue. Deliberately or not, the accuser has testified falsely. He sinned against the accused. He must apologize and try to correct the effects of his false accusation.

The accused also has necessary duties. There are two possibilities — the accusation is true or false. If it is true, the accused must repent humbly and do what is right. To continue in sin is a barrier to self-respect, to the fellowship of good men, and to acceptable worship of God (Mt. 5:23). If the accusation is false he must confront the accuser and demand proof. He must clear himself and expose the lie. The accusation must not be ignored. His second duty is to the false accuser. He must accuse him of his sin and seek to restore him (Mt. 18:15-). The false accuser may not be a Christian nor concerned with justice. In such cases, a good life is the only defense against slander (1 Pet. 3:16) and God's reward the ultimate blessing (Mt. 5:11).

Often ignored are requirements imposed on every person who listens to an accusation. He has inescapable duties. The accusation declares that someone has sinned — the accused or the accuser. First the hearer must demand proof. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses" (1 Tim. 5:19). This is not peculiar to elders. They must receive the same fair treatment justice demands for all. If the accusation is proved, the hearer must go to the accused to reprove and restore him. If it is unproved and untrue, the hearer must rebuke the false accuser.

Joe Fitch
6326 Peacepipe
San Antonio, TX.