Ever hear someone say, “It’s just me and Jesus!”?
Or something like, “I appreciate your concern, but Jesus loves me and His grace is enough for me, and I know he’ll forgive me and love me just as I am.”?
Usually, these statements are blurted out hastily when a pastor or another fellow Christian is attempting to help a fellow Christian correct the path that they are tragically heading down. In other words, it is a response people give when a fellow believer is trying to provide accountability to that person and their situation.
Go on. Say the word. Say, “accountability“.
Is it a curse word? Is it a blessing?
How does it taste? Sweet? Bitter?
How does it feel coming out of your mouth? Refreshing? Does it stick to the roof of your mouth on the way out?
What images come to mind when you say it? People helping one another? People judging and condemning one another?
For many Christians unfortunately, it seems that this word is more like a curse word than a blessing. For them, the word “accountability” tastes very bitter and sticks to the roof of their mouth and reminds them of those unloving, judging, and condemning Christians that wounded them so long long ago.
You will know when you have run across a believer who has a severe distaste for accountability when you make the fatal mistake of lovingly pointing to the scripture as a guide for a certain area of another believer’s life that they are missing the mark on. It’s almost as if they have a sudden distaste for God’s word. Which is really odd for someone professing to be a follower of Christ to develop. But, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, otherwise, I wouldn’t have believed it to be possible myself.
Now, let me caveat what I’m going to say next by saying first that there is certainly a right and a wrong way to approach another believer that is in need of biblical and brotherly/sisterly accountability. It must come from a place of love, and a general desire to see someone on the right path, and it must not come from a place of hypocrisy. In other words, I cannot try and help provide accountability to someone regarding sexual immorality if I too am caught up in my own form of sexual immorality. That’s just going to end up being the pot calling the kettle black, as the old saying goes. Or, as Jesus puts it in Matthew 7:4-5 NLT:
4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
All of that said, it is extremely unfortunate that the word accountability has become such a bad word for believers. The very idea of accountability should actually be a breath of fresh air for Christians. Why? Because it means that we don’t have to walk this whole Christian life alone. That there are actually people out there who care enough to want to help us avoid pitfalls and roadblocks on the path.
But I realize that for many the form of accountability they have received has usually come out of a place of judgment and ridicule and condemnation. As though the other person is better than this person.
I have been careful in my own life when trying to provide guidance and accountability to my fellow believers by being fully transparent that what I am addressing in them was once an area I struggled with and found certain scriptures and teachings to be severely beneficial and freeing and a great help for me to dig my way out of that pitfall. Yet, still too many times I was and I am told that I am just being judgmental, or that I’m a pharisee, or that I must be some sort of “super-Christian”, or that I must think that I’m better than them to even address these things in their life.
None of this is true of course. But it reveals a lot about the person responding to me in that way. It tells me that they have no desire to have accountability in their life, and it doesn’t matter how many scriptures I point to, or how transparent about my own life I am, none of it will matter because accountability is a curse word to them. It’s bitter. It sticks to the roof of their mouth.
What is sad to me is that this sort of behavior and response is so very contrary to what the bible teaches us about being a believer and finding accountability. And believe it or not, the bible has much to say on the topic. Here are just a few (read them very carefully and let them speak to you):
That’s just a few passages that address the idea of accountability, but I think you get the point. God’s word makes it plainly clear that accountability is an important aspect of the Christian life and one that we ought not to ignore or reject.
The reality is this, church, our perspective on accountability MUST change. We cannot keep rejecting it. Not just for the benefit of others that this shift must happen, but for ourselves as well. You see, God made the church to be a community that is accountable to one another AND to Him (not just to him), and when we deny accountability we deny His work in our lives.
And when we deny His work in our lives, we place ourselves in a very dangerous position to be in opposition to Him. And personally, that isn’t a place I want to be. I hope you don’t either. And accountability helps keep us from getting there.