No One is Above Culture’s Influence

Culture's Influence

No one is above the influence of their culture. Even Samuel, the great prophet of God was not above the influence of his surroundings.

Samuel Not Above the Culture

1 Samuel 16 tells of Samuel’s journey to anoint the next king over Israel. After traveling to Bethlehem, escaping the suspicion of Saul, and convincing the elders he came in peace, Samuel calls the elders and Jesse’s family together for a sacrifice.

After they gathered, Samuel noticed Jesse’s son Eliab. He was tall and his appearance was pleasing. He stood out from the rest. Samuel thought he was God’s next king. He was not, however, the one the Lord would anoint as king. Sure, he looked the part, but his heart was not right. He was not a man after God’s own heart; that would be his brother David.

Samuel’s thoughts and the Lord’s declaration tells us something important. No man is above their culture’s influence. When Saul was installed as king, Israel praised and exalted him because he looked the part. He looked like all the surrounding kings. Samuel’s thought shows culture rubbed off on him; it influenced him.

Understand Culture’s Influence

If we are honest with ourselves, we are all influenced by our culture and traditions in one way or another. Knowing that anyone can be influenced by their culture, we must ask ourselves:

  1. How does our culture influence us?
  2. How does our traditions sway our thinking and decisions?
  3. How does God’s Word tell us we should act?

It is important we ask ourselves all these questions when approaching a decisions, especially the last question because God’s Word should be our guide in everything we do.

Question for Reflection

  1. How have you noticed your culture influencing you?
  2. How do you deal with its influence?



Christian Accountability


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

  1. How do you view accountability?
  2. Do you seek out accountability?
  3. How does your church, small group, etc, promote accountability among its members?
  4. Are there any other motivations you would add to the list?



A Man After God’s Own Heart: Connecting the Cross to 1 Samuel

I have been reading through 1 Samuel this last week. When I came to chapter 13, something struck me while reading the discourse between Samuel and Saul. Let me give you some background information before jumping into their discourse.


Saul was set to again fight against the Philistines after Jonathan had initial defeated them at Geba. After their defeat, the Philistines came out strong with thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops. The text says, “They were like the sand on the seashore in multitude” (1 Samuel 13:5). This caused the Hebrews to be afraid, some crossed over the Jordan, others hid, and the men who were Saul at Gilgal trembled. This was obviously a tense time for the nation of Israel and their leader Saul. There newly installed king had won a military victory once against the Ammonites and his son Jonathan had defeated the Philistines, but Jonathan’s victory seemed only to anger the Philistines, causing them to come out against the Israelites even stronger.

Apparently, Samuel had told Saul to wait at Gilgal for seven days (1 Samuel 10:8), but Samuel did not show up in the allotted time (1 Samuel 13:8). As a result, the people following Saul began to leave. Instead of waiting for Samuel, the prophet of God, Saul decides to proceed without him in offering sacrifices to the Lord. Just as Saul had finished offering burnt offerings, Samuel shows up and asks, “What have you done?” Sauls response is telling of  his heart. He says,

“When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering” (1 Samuel 13:11-12).

Samuel responds by telling Saul that he has not obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and, as a result, the kingdom will be taken from him. Immediately afterward he tells him,

The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14).

Later on in Chapter 15 we read about another instance when Saul rejected the commandments of the Lord and did what the people wanted. There he did not kill all the Amalekites or destroy all their livestock, instead he spared their king, Agag, and sought to sacrifice the livestock to God because that is what the people wanted to do.

Common Thread

The common thread that is running through these narratives is Saul’s lack of obedience to the Lord and his desire to please his people.

  • Instead of waiting for Samuel to come to Gilgal, he offered sacrifices to the Lord when the people started to leave.
  • Instead of killing all the Amalekites and devoting all their livestock to destruction like he was commanded by the Lord, he listened to the people and kept the livestock to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord.

The result, is that Saul was to be removed as king over Israel (1 Samuel 13:14), and God regretted making him a king (1 Samuel 15:10-11).

Man After God’s Own Heart

Saul was not a man after God’s own heart; rather, he sought his own fame and glory by pleasing those he was ruling over. As I read about Saul, I saw a little of myself in him, but I also learned a valuable lesson.

If I want to be a man after God’s own heart, I need to obey God’s commandments even when it is not popular. Even when others will shun me, walk away from my leadership, or outright persecute me, I need to obey the commandments of the Lord because that is to what I have been called.

A man after God’s own heart obeys the Lord rather than people. He seeks the will of God rather than his own will.

Our Example

David becomes our immediate example of a man after God’s own heart, but he failed from time to time, seeking his own will instead of God’s.

Even though he represents a man after God’s own heart in the immediate context, it is not until we get to Jesus do we see someone who perfectly exhibits what that means. Jesus lived a perfect life and was even obedient to the point of death, accomplishing the Father’s will instead of seeking to glorify Himself (Philippians 2: 6-11).

Salvation Before Obedience

Jesus is our example, but He must be our Savior first. Try as we might, we can never hope to live as Jesus did without first being raised from the dead. We are inherently sinful people, who want nothing more than to accomplish our own will and please ourselves.

If we ever hope to obey God’s commandments and live an obedient life like Christ, a life we will never fully live this side of eternity, we must believe that Christ is our Savior. When we do, will be made a child of God, given a new heart, and the Holy Spirit will indwell us. With our new heart and the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, we will be better able to obey the commandments of the Lord.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Can you restate what it means to be a man/woman after God’s own heart?
  2. Do you understand why you must be regenerated before you can live as a person after God’s own heart?
  3. Do you ever seek others approval rather than living for the Lord?
  4. What is the chief end of man?