I have been considering the whole idea of ‘accountability’ for some months now. As Christians, we are accountable to one another for the way that we live and our relationships. There are quite a few instructions in the New Testament for us to help one another with our Christian life, such as:
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (Jam 5:16 ESV)
James is encouraging confession, something we don’t often do in the modern evangelical church, at least not to one another. And later on in the same letter:
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,
20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
(Jam 5:19-20 ESV)
Christians are encouraged to take an interest in others who wander off; this has spiritual and eternal implications. And also:
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (Mat 18:15 ESV)
We are not to just accept broken relationships among Christians, but are to deal with them. They are so serious that if we read on in Matthew 18 we see that unrepentant sin can lead to people being excluded from the Christian community.
We do not naturally like accountability. It is easy to acknowledge accountability before God, but we cannot see God and judgement day seems so far off we tend to ignore it. But do we hold each other accountable for our lives? Do we have a culture of confessing sins to one another? Do we take the lifestyle of our brothers and sisters in Christ seriously?
I am accountable before God for my actions, as are all Christians. I am accountable to my elders for my ministry. I am accountable to my fellow elders in my denomination for my lifestyle and teaching. And this is good for me.
Recently, there have been a number of times I have found people unwilling to be accountable. They are happy to do their own thing but are uncomfortable with being questioned and having some sort of oversight. We need to be humble, to acknowledge that as sinner we need to be corrected sometimes.
At church I am trying to encourage a culture of Christians meeting one to one together. This personal relationship forces us to ask hard questions of one another, and makes us accountable in a real way to someone else we trust. For some this will be a big step. It is hard being completely open and honest, especially with regard to sin. But I pray that all of us will encourage one another and spur one another on to love and good deeds, and help one another to appreciate God’s grace even to sinners like us.