What do you think about Christian accountability? Do you think it is abused? Do you think it is negative? Do you think we should hold each other accountability? Beyond what you think, what does the Bible say? What does it tell us we should do? How does it tell us we should exercise accountability in the body? 1 Samuel 15 provides us with an excellent model.
Saul has disobeyed God by not completing the mission God gave him. Instead of completely destroying the Amalekites, he spared king Agag’s life and allowed his people to keep the best cattle to sacrifice to the Lord. As well as he setup a monument to himself in Carmel.
Samuel received word from the Lord regarding Saul’s actions, goes and confronts him, calling him to repent while also delivering bad news. The Lord has rejected him as king over Israel.
Samuel’s actions both tell us accountability is biblical as well as they provide us with a model to follow. Let’s look at the model Samuel gives us.
Model for Accountability
(1) We should grieve over others sins because they have offended a holy God.
The first action we should take when we learn of another brother or sister’s sin is to grieve. Sin is an affront to God. It’s rebellion against Him. Knowing another brother or sister is in sin, should cause us to grieve.
(2) We should go to the person and confront them with their sin.
After grieving, prayer for wisdom, and checking our own heart’s motives, we should confront the sinning brother or sister, bringing their sin to light and calling them to repent. Of course, we must not do this in a high-handed, judgmental, or self-promoting way, but in a loving and wise manner.
(3) We must confront them with God’s Word.
Samuel doesn’t come to Saul with his own word. He comes with God’s Word. When we go to another brother or sister in sin, we must go with God’s Word as well. Allowing Scripture to point out their sin is important because it is what is judging them, not us. All we are doing is pronouncing God’s judgment on them via Scripture. In this way, we are acting as God’s messenger, not their judge.
(4) We must call them to repent.
Confrontation should not occur for confrontations sake. Rather, its purpose is that the confronted sinner will repent of their sin and enjoy restored fellowship with the Lord. Calling the wayward to repent is an important step of accountability. One we must not neglect because it is what the whole process is driving toward.
Motivation for Accountability
For some, accountability is an uneasy topic. It is something they would never dream of doing. For that reason, let me provide you with motivation to hold others accountable and to seek it out yourself.
(1) As God’s people we should reflect His character to the world for His glory.
If we are in sin, we cannot reflect God’s character to the world. Instead, we are actually misrepresenting God, especially if we call ourselves Christians. By holding each other accountable, we are fighting for the purity of Jesus’ bride – the church – and for God’s glory. We should do this and desire this because the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
(2) Unrepentant sinners hinder the church’s witness to the world.
This is why the world sees many Christians as hypocrites. If we want to regain our name in the world, we have to start calling people to repent of their sin and to follow God. Accountable then becomes a way for the church to fight for its witness in the world.
(3) Accountability is for your joy.
When we live in obedience to God, we experience the most joy. Think about a time when you were living in rebellion to God. Were you joyful then? I know that when I am in rebellion to God, I am not joyful. Now think about a time, when you were living in line with God’s commands, were you joyful then? I know that is the time when I am the most joyful.
Accountable, confronting others with their sin, and calling them to repentance is far from negative, rather it is a way for us to fight for other’s joy.
(4) Accountability helps us finish the race.
Salvation is pictured both as a definitive historical event that happens in our life and as something to be attained at the end of our life. By holding others accountability, we help them to finish the race. We help them to obtain salvation.
James 5:19-20 says,
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 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.
For those reasons and more, we should hold others accountable. It is a grace – gift – God has given us. It is not something negative. It actually is something positive, and something we should desire.
Questions for Reflection
- How do you view accountability?
- Do you seek out accountability?
- How does your church, small group, etc, promote accountability among its members?
- Are there any other motivations you would add to the list?