The importance of Christian accountability

Years ago a friend taught me something very valuable.

There are three sides to every story. There is your side, their side, and the truth.

Most of the time we think there is only two. However in every story, every perspective we have our own personal understanding of the issue in mind. Sometimes we may leave out information, other times we might even add information. This is why it is very important to hear both sides of the issue and come to a conclusion of what is really going on. Within our Christian walk we face this as well. However it’s not a particular event story that’s in mind here but rather our own sins.

The greatest challenge we as believers face is dealing with our pride. It is normal for us to never want to be wrong on certain things that we use our faith in Christ and His guidance to lead us. When we have a strong feeling about something it is usually followed by “I feel the Lord guiding me to do this or feel this way”. This is not always a good practice to continue. I’m fact nowhere in scripture will you ever find any instruction to trust your feelings. As Jeremiah 17:9 put it, our hearts are deceitful above all things.

It is only the Lord who knows our heart 100%. He designed it. Knitted us together in our mothers womb (Psalm 139:13-14, Jeremiah 1:5). He is the one who took our heart of stone and gave us a new heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Proverbs instructs is that we are not to lean on our own understanding but to trust the Lord with all our heart. Or in other words, trust the Lord in everything. It was He who said we shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3). Which Christ quotes to Satan during is forty days in the wilderness. The idea behind this is that we should trust less in the worldly things, less in our flesh and more on everything the Lord gives us. Especially His Holy Scriptures.

Identifying accountability

My mother has a hand towel in her kitchen that says “Mom is right about everything”. We often joke about this together because many times in my upbringing, she would attempt to give me guidance. After I would ignore her council I would then find myself coming back to her saying “mom you were right”. This does not mean my mother truly does know everything, but rather she has an extra 23 years of life experience than I do. There of course are various things I surpass her in understanding and experience. In any environment, there will always be someone who is more knowledgeable in various things. Mechanics, artists, computer technicians, and so on.

When it comes down to the Christian Body, the same is true. We will always have someone who has a deeper understanding on various things. Whether it be a seminary graduate, or someone who has simply been a Christian for the past 30 years. Accountability within the body is very important and helpful for our spiritual walk. We must always be willing and able to hear the concerns and guidance of other brother and sisters. In some cases, the Lord may even use non believers to instruct us. While they may not be well versed in the things of God, our world has come to be influenced by the Christian faith that without knowing it, practice some godly principles.

About 5-6 months ago I found myself in a particular sin. I was so sure about what was going on that I failed to hear the council of others. After a discussion with a friend of mine it truly hit me that I was in the wrong. A verse came to mind that held me accountable.

19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:19, ESV)

Matthew 18:19-20

The context of this verse does not simply mean that when two or more are gathered that the Lord is there too. If it did, what would say for that person who is alone? What’s being said is that when two or three come together, the Lord is with them to lead into right decision. It’s a passage on discernment.

One big way I believe we can know if we are truly in the wrong is to analyze how many people have confronted us on a particular issue? It would be one thing if we are simply confronted by one person, we might just brush it off and think we are not in sin. But if there are multiple individuals who have tried to reach out to us and address their concerns, it is more likely that we truly are the one in sin.

Failure to be accountable

When we fail to take accountability from others seriously, we often find ourselves in a pickle. Accountability is the effort from others to keep us from doing something we will later regret. We may even find ourselves in a position in which we have consequences to deal with. Failing to heed the concerns of others leads to so much damage.

  1. It will damage our relationship with them
  2. We may loose their trust
  3. We may push them away
  4. The relationship may be severed altogether.

Matthew 18:15-20 is a wonderful example of not only accountability within the church, but most importantly between other believers. In this passage you will notice that the accountability first comes privately. If that goes unheard then others are to be involved.

As noted above, it is very important to hear the concerns of others. To let go of our sin of pride and take to heart the possibility we may be in the wrong.

All believers fall short of perfection. All believers still stumble into sin. If we live a life that denies our sins, we ultimately are deceiving ourselves and the truth of God does not reside in us (1 John 1:8). As our Lord puts it in John 3:19-20, the wicked hide from the deeds in fear of them being exposed.

There is hope. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). The recognition of our sins, and the repentance of these sins brings true healing. We can not expect to be at peace with God or others if we fail to let go of our pride.