We have all probably heard and believed the old adage, “where there’s smoke there’s fire.” After all, it is a pretty strong correlation. In fact, just tonight, on our way home from our gospel meeting, my oldest son said, “There’s a fire. I know because I can see the smoke.” We weren’t close enough to see flames, but he assumed the fire based on the evidence of smoke. Sure enough, when we got closer to that section of town, there was a large brush fire from where land is being cleared for a new shopping center.
I know that, for myself, I have often applied this rule to people, assuming an intent or outcome based on what I assumed was hard evidence. Sometimes, I’ve worded it this way: “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck … it’s a duck!”
However, at our gospel meeting this week, the speaker pointed out at least one Biblical example where these adages did not hold true. Potiphar’s wife certainly sent out some smoke signals for help, accusing Joseph of trying to take advantage of her. However, there was no fire. Joseph had done nothing wrong!
This made me think about myself and times when I may have assumed something wrongly about a person based on false information. Then I took that thought one step further and realized that, as Christians, we are almost guaranteed to have this happen to us. In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11).
I’d like to share a two-fold application that I plan to make in my life:
First, when you hear something bad about someone or observe something that could be seen in different lights, give people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ, the benefit of the doubt. “Love … thinks no evil … but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
Secondly, if we already know that Satan is going to be attacking us through false accusations, we need to heed Peter’s advice in 1 Peter 2:12 where he writes, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” Notice that he wrote when, not if. It is coming, so make sure you give them no real reason to malign you.
“Believers shouldn’t curse anyone or be quarrelsome, but they should be gentle and show courtesy to everyone.” (Titus 3:2, God’s Word)
AUTHOR: Amber Tatum