Rather than face personal accountability it is easier to blame God or others, but making excuses only creates conflict and does not solve the problem. We must take ownership or responsibility for our failings and character defects as “Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” (Gen 3:13; Rom 14:10-12; Heb 4:13). While we might not have had the best parents in the world or the breaks others have, we are still responsible for ‘us’ – the choices made. Are we going to take up that challenge seriously and actively pursue the journey towards positive transformation? Those issues we acknowledge as not being all they should be need ruthlessly addressing as only confessed sin is forgivable.
A means to progress
and vulnerability as you let others speak into your life to show you blind spots by giving clear unbiased perspective and insights (Ps 19:12). It requires monitoring of progress and performance, asking specific questions and getting specific truthful answers with a willingness to explain our actions. Even if you know the answers, still ask the questions and help them discover the problem rather than telling them. It is vital to uphold the honour of the person being held accountable.
The motive of accountability is not to humiliate, control, manipulate or give advice unless warranted, however, warning of impending danger must be communicated clearly (Ezek 33:1-9). The aim is to bring into wholeness and conformity to the image of Christ through humility, submission, challenging, confronting, correcting and feedback. Encouragement is vital for continued progress on the road of life and recovery.
Coupled with others holding you accountable must be the personal desire and self-motivation to make right choices. Self-discipline is governed by knowing that there are rewards for good actions yet also consequences for doing wrong. In response to any teaching, insight or information we should ask what is required of me, how can I use this to be a blessing to others. Follow-up to a challenge ascertains the effectiveness of the accountability.
Accountable to God
In heaven, we will give account of ourselves
because they did not accept the offer of salvation, while the Christians will stand before Christ to give an account of the life they have lived and be judged according to their time (involvement), talent (ability), treasure (finance), thoughts and talk expended for His Kingdom (Mt 5:27,28, 12:36,37; 2 Cor 5:10; 1 Pet 4:5; Rev 20:11-15). “For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether good or bad” (Eccl 12:14). This stewardship review will include areas such as how we used the abilities and resources He gave us, how we showed His love to others and let the fruit of the Spirit develop within.
Jesus loves us too much to leave us in the condition we were when we accepted salvation but continually convicts of areas in our lives that need to be cleaned up, besides stretching and challenging us to greater heights in our experience – so we will be more effective for Him and truer representatives as His redeemed children. We will be answerable for our obedience and disobedience to His Word (Deut 18:18,19; Jn 12:48). Hence it is vital we read and live by its teachings as these represent the general principles by which we are to live (Mt 7:24-27).
What we confess to God (and people where appropriate) is forgiven, although the consequences of sin are still in effect. Being in proper accountability to God will put us into correct accountability to our fellow man. The vertical relationship to God affects the horizontal rapport to others. If there is a problem in one sphere, it will affect the other.
Accountable to others
Accountability is about taking ownership and thus responsibility
1 Cor 10:12; 2 Cor 8:21). This involves a level of discipling or mentoring, causing us to walk humbly as we seek the highest good of our fellow believers, doing what we would like to be done to us, building one another up in love and endeavouring not to be a cause of another person stumbling but help them reach their potential in Christ (Mt 18:6; Lk 6:31; 1 Cor 10:23-32; Heb 10:24,25).
An accountability partner is a Christian who teams up with another (of the same gender) for mutual edification and exhortation
who is regularly available, focused on the individual not the peripheral things and brutally honest. In a confidential and trusting
setting, they honestly report their struggles to each other, as each considers they are answerable to the other. Each should accurately
assess the others areas of concern and point them to Scripture, having the courage to tell the truth if an area needs to be confronted
(Prov 27:6). Thus a good knowledge of the Word and sharing it truthfully are important for through it we are sanctified and equipped
for living a life pleasing to God (Jn 17:17; 2 Tim 2:15, 3:17).
Entering into an accountability partnership is not to ‘fix’ one another; as our first responsibility is us (Mt 7:3-5). Nor is the focus discussing the negative power of the old sinful nature rather to help guide into God’s positive truth and the freedom that Jesus died purchase for us.
Take a soul-searching look at yourself and consider where the enemy might find a crevice in the defense of your inner world. Maintain the regular spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, meditation and prayer that put us in touch with Jesus, coupled with open accountability with others – by encouraging and affirming us when we show growth but also in challenging and holding us to the standard of Godly character when we show evidence of substandard performance. We should do regular check-ups on ourselves although other people can often see things we can’t. Consistently be in accountability to a few trusted friends as you also speak into the lives of others (Mt 7:3-5; 1 Cor 9:27). Be prepared to ask and answer searching questions that go beyond the surface level, as often there will be at least some measure of truth in the honest and transparent responses that must be keep confidential.
In love we can ask
were the enemy, where would you attack? What is the state of your sexual perspective at the moment – fantasies, entertainment? Where does your mind stray to when not engaged in the ‘job at hand’? What is the diet you have been feeding into your thought life? Have you compromised this week, gone anywhere, lingered on what is impure? What have you thought about, or looked at on the internet that you would be ashamed of if your wife/husband/parent or God were looking over your shoulder? What challenges do you think you’ll be facing this week? Have you given truthful answers to these questions? These are not to be condemning times, rather the aim is to challenge and identify trigger points. No one is above being questioned, but be careful not to accuse, as this can cause a negative adverse reaction. Challenge with facts and truth (1 Sam 15:14).
You have the choice to submit to their insights and wisdom if you believe they are right. The motive is not peer pressure, manipulation or any other form of control that can quickly lead to abuse, rather it is developing a mature relationship with Christ (Col 1:28). Don’t overload people with areas to work on, rather focus on key areas (Act 15:19,28,29). Set progress goals and practical stages to advance in your walk with God. Our first priority is to ourselves but we are also responsible for others.
As we genuinely are interested in others we earn the right to speak into their lives (Phil 2:3,4).
Being in accountability is for our protection
Sin takes its toll on the individual and those directly affected including the body of believers. Thus, often it becomes a group issue. We need each other – we are walking the same road, so why not go in a group – not in co-dependency but support roles. I am my brother’s keeper, doing to them as I would like them to do to me (Gen 4:9; Lk 6:31). This is not pointing of the finger, inferring I’m holier than you, shunning or ignoring the person but of loving, humble confrontation with the aim to restore, lifting them out of the ditch back onto the pathway of life, aware that in the future the roles may be reversed (Eph 4:15,25). With integrity hold each other accountable not in a legalistic manner but because of love, wanting the best for them. Spur one another on to purity and holiness being responsible for your fellow believers. Every Christian will benefit by having an accountability partner (of the same gender) with whom he or she can pray, talk, confide, and confess (Jas 5:16). However, it is important to remember the Holy Spirit is the only One who can make a change in someone’s heart – it is not the job of one sinful human being to 'fix' another.
Allow others to speak into your life
our need and humbly point us to Scripture. United we stand but alone we are no match for his schemes. Our faith won't survive without the input of others – we need them and they need us. The body of believers will grow and build itself up as each part does it work (Eph 4:15,16).
Being in accountability is a voluntary safeguard for our benefit. It’s a relationship entered into for our gain, proportional to our self-discipline, honesty and willingness to make ourselves vulnerable. Be honest with each other and share your burdens, difficulties and temptations. Being in accountability does not reduce the need for self-discipline, but rather assists us to keep on track away from the fires of sin. Even church fellowships that do not relate in a meaningful way to other like-minded believers consistently fall into error and ungodly practices.
See also: age of accountability, brothers keeper, confront, disciple/discipleship, discipline, examine, excuse, honesty, humility, judging, mentor, ownership, rebuke, reconciliation, responsible/responsibility, self-discipline, temptation, words.