Genesis 39:19-21 (New English Standard Version)
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.
It hurts to be corrected when we begin to fall off the path of righteousness, but it hurts even more when we are accused of doing something we didn’t do.
The Old Testament’s Joseph understood this better than anyone. Falsely accused of pursuing his master Potiphar's wife, Joseph was accustomed to living a difficult life. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers at an early age, and climbed his way through the ranks until the day he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s angry wife and thrown into prison. While this is an extreme case, Joseph’s response to his accuser serves as an excellent demonstration of how God’s blameless children should walk through isolation, distrust, and lies.
Despite numerous attempts to be pulled into sin, Joseph courageously stood through them all. Even after being accused of a deed entirely out of his character, Joseph’s true nature still persisted. After years of prison life, the Lord opened a door to Joseph that would lead him to become second in command of all of Egypt! An incredible depiction of the power of God even in difficult human circumstances.
Joseph is not the only significant Bible figure to have been falsely accused. In fact, Jesus Himself was tried and killed under false pretenses! Yet, despite the cruel, unimaginable punishment the Messiah received, His sufferings were used by God to fulfill a great purpose. All the earth was saved!
So how does the Christ follower handle being falsely accused by modeling the examples of Joseph and Jesus?
Stick to the truth. Joseph had nothing to hide from Potiphar, and it is assumed that he continued to tell the truth even up to the point where he was cast into prison. Do not change your answers or lie in order to escape what is true. Remember: silence is powerful!
Own the truth. Do not respond to your accuser with anger or violence. Neither Joseph nor Jesus attacked their accusers using words or physical violence. In fact, Christ healed the ear of the High Priest’s servant that Peter maimed in order to save his Master. John 18:10 depicts the powerful words of Christ, declaring, “Put your sword back in its sheath!” Jesus said to Peter. “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?” Getting the blame for something you didn’t do is infuriating, but reacting to it in a less than God-honoring way is no longer keeping you blameless. Always own the truth.
Live out the truth. Even though Joseph was trapped living out a prison sentence he did not deserve, he continued to trust faithfully in Christ. He lived so honestly that the prison wardens granted him control over an entire portion of the jail, and didn’t bother to monitor him! Continuing to live blamelessly matters, even if others regard you as someone to be accused.
If you have been hurt by others either in the Church or in the secular world, remember that you are not alone. The fact that our small, mortal minds are so limited to the powers of this earth makes the situation seem unbearable at first. But despite the name-calling, despite the gossip, and despite the pain, God is there for you. Like Joseph, the Father is waiting to show you kindness and favor, and bless your life beyond anything you could ever imagine.
Stick to the truth, own the truth, and live out the truth by blamelessly pursuing God in spite of the Potiphars of our world!
Think back on some times where you were falsely accused. How did it make you feel? How did you respond? Using what you have reflected on today, how can you respond in a more Christ-like manner in the future? This world is fallen, sinful, and broken, and many Christians are falsely accused without a fair trial. Put on the armor of God today as you seek to live blamelessly in a blame-filled world!
Genesis 40:15 (Berean Study Bible)
For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.
Hebrews 11:36 (New International Version)
Still others endured mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.