Are you seeing spiritual growth in yourself? Your family? Your church?
If your answer to that question is…well…not what you’d like it to be, then consider that injecting accountability into relationships can make a big difference.
Accountability is a positive force for sanctification (and thus joy) in our lives
When it is important that something gets done there’s usually some form of accountability to make sure it actually does get done. We expect forms of accountability for filing our taxes, finishing a project at work, writing a report for school or even being at soccer practice. While we would certainly all agree that our spiritual growth is more important than these and many other things why isn’t there more accountability for doing it?
Accountability is just as vital for achieving spiritual goals as it is for other goals. It is ingrained in our nature as covenantal beings who are made in the image of a covenantal God. Consider that last statement again. To be accountable and to provide accountability is part of our identity and our life together as God’s family.
Accountability is woven into God’s design for his church and the home
Continuing with the covenant principle, God the Father has identified specific individuals who are accountable to Him to oversee the work of redemption in the lives of those under their charge in two institutions he has created: the church and the home. God the Son: Jesus Christ, is responsible for the entire universal Church (John 14:6, 1 Cor. 15:22). From Jesus, responsibility is vested in the elders who lead the local church (Heb. 13:17, 1 Pet. 5:5) and then the heads of household who lead in the home (Eph. 5:22-6:4, Col.3:19-21). All have responsibility and authority to oversee this redemptive work and are therefore, accountable to God to do it.
But God also expects there to be a level of accountability between members within the body of Christ. Consider that we are to instruct (Rom. 15:14), admonish (Col. 3:16), restore (Gal. 6:1), submit to (Eph. 5:21), and encourage (which here means “to come along side to help, to enable, to comfort, exhort and encourage”) one another (1 Thess. 5:11). These are all facets of accountability.
Accountability helps us live covanentally faithful lives
Perhaps you have experienced the blessings of having someone love you enough to offer some biblical counsel about a personal issue or situation you were facing, pray for you, and then come back a week later and ask about it. Knowing that the person praying was going to come back and ask probably helped you to do what you needed to do.
We are guilty of underestimating the power of deceitful desires
We are weak creatures and we often underestimate the power of the deceitful desires that lurk within our hearts (Jer. 17:9). Even if we, by ourselves, peg the real root of a struggle, we often need our families (home and in the church) to apply the remedy for the struggle that defeats sin. “Let him who stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). To think that we can grow without the help of our brothers and sisters is to not understand our condition as fallen creatures and to not understand “the exceeding sinfulness of sin” as Jeremiah Burroughs puts it. It is also not to understand the remedy for sin which is the work of the Holy Spirit applying the gospel through the ministry of God’s household “speaking the truth to one another in love”…which includes accountability.
Accountability requires relationships
Loving, gracious, patient, understanding accountability is not optional if we are going to see lives transformed. It is best accomplished as one facet of a relationship with a person where real life is shared and the motive for accountability is demonstrated in love. Otherwise, it comes off as legalism or as Paul would say, “a noisy gong or claiming cymbal”.
Accountability is vital
Accountability is to be a vital aspect of who we are and how we are to function as God’s covenant people. Yet, how much “coming along side” for the purpose of accountability is an intentional part of the ministry plan at your church or in your home?