In our ever-enlightened, twenty-first century freedom-focused culture, most people hear the word accountability, and cringe. We don’t like having to be held accountable for things; we don’t like people looking at our actions and judging them; and we certainly don’t get excited about the idea of being held responsible for all the less-than-holy things we think, say, or do. Many assume accountability is a joke because of how easy it is to hide our thoughts, manipulate our words, and justify our actions. Heck, even the government isn’t accountable to anyone anymore…so why should I be? And to accept that our actions have consequences for which we are responsible? That’s un-American!
But (and that’s a big ‘but’!), as disciples of Jesus Christ, God calls us to accountability. Accountability is defined as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or account for one’s actions.” A willingness to accept responsibility… Romans 14:12 tells us that one day, “each of us will give a personal account to God [of all that not-good stuff we do].” We are going to have to come clean with God about all of it…all that stuff we hide, manipulate away, and justify…all of it. Why? Because all that bad stuff we do and say and think is sin, it’s disobeying God- it separates us from God and warrants punishment (see Romans 6:23). We have to account for why we’ve done it all.
Now, if we believe in and accept the gift of salvation that God offers to us through Jesus’ work on the cross, then all that bad stuff is covered over by His blood- the debt is paid and we no longer have to face that punishment (Can I get an Amen!?!). But even though our sins are forgiven, we still sin, and we still have to deal with the consequences . It’s like this: no matter who you are, if you do something bad to someone else or yourself, there is a consequence, and you have to live with it. You cheat on your taxes, you get audited and all the other fun IRS stuff that comes with that. You rob a bank, you get caught and go to jail. You lie to your parents, you have to deal with losing their trust and whatever else comes from it. Even as Christians, when we sin, we have to live with the consequences.
Enter God. He knows this. And He loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to have to be stuck in this endless cycle of sin and consequences and sin and consequences. So God calls us to accountability with one another. James 5:16 tells us to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Confess and Pray…and be Healed. That is what God calls disciples to do. Remember, God knows that we still sin and have to deal with it in our lives. So He calls us to some real honesty, to some heart-felt sharing and earnest caring. God calls us to be people who engage in mutual confession (not just one sided, but people sharing their lives), and energetic prayer (more than just words said half-heartedly, but with emotion and intention and love).
As disciples, as those wanting to become more like Christ, we need to become less controlled by sin and its consequences. So we need to be accountable. We need to have relationships that hold us to a biblical standard and are not afraid to bring to us those times when we fall short. Do you have that person or persons in your life that you are accountable to and whom you hold accountable? If not, ask God to bring you that person, and do the work needed to develop such a relationship. If you do, then continue developing it. Continue doing the hard work of confessing to and praying for one another, “so that you may be healed.” And as James 5:16 ends, your confession and prayer “has great power and produces wonderful results!”
Next week, we’ll look at what a godly accountability relationship looks like, and how to develop one.
Sermon Notes for “LWOA: Accountability- Sharing & Caring” from May 4, 2014
We’ve all had those times when we:
Like hiding in a crowd; prefer to not be seen; consider ourselves anti-social; like being independent
We like being alone sometimes, and it can be good for us
But when we completely separate ourselves from others (physically or emotionally)- it’s not good!
Genesis 2:8- “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Reality of the Christian life is that we are made to live with one another- to live life together, to share, care, comfort, mourn, rejoice, and grow together
59 times in Scripture God gives us commands that involve “one another”
Things like “greet” “welcome” “honor” “instruct” “accept” “forgive” “love”
According to Scripture, discipleship actually requires that we grow with and be formed by others
Discipleship involves learning how to get along with and depend upon one another
It’s easier said than done, I know!
Read Romans 15:1-7
Verse 5 is our theme verse for this series: “May God…help you live in complete harmony with one another”
We do this not just to make our lives better, but, as verse 7 states, “so that God will be given glory!”
New Series: Living With One Another
As we go through this series, consider the question: What would life be like, and how would it be different, if you intentionally and regularly obeyed those “one anothers” of the bible?
Definition: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or account for one’s actions
We are held accountable for our actions
Accountable to God: Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12
Accountable to others: James 5:16
God is working in our lives to rid us of sins, and one of the biggest ways God does that is through our relationships
James tells us to Confess Our Sins To One Another and Pray For One Another
Our lives are filled with all sorts of troubles, hardships, and ailments
Truth is that they are caused by sin- our or those of others
We are responsible for the bad things that happen in our lives
Our sinful actions always eventually bring bad consequences that we have to live with
This is where accountability comes in
We’ve all done wrong things, and none of us are too keen to share those with others, because of embarrassment or shame or guilt or the fear of being found out
Sin’s greatest ally is secrecy
God knows that, and so implores us to remove the secrecy, to find people we can share our sins with to help bring about healing and restoration
Sin lurks beneath the surface of our life. The only thing that will get rid of it is confessing it
We are to have people in our lives that we trust, to whom we can grow with and share our lives with- good and bad
We all need a relationship/s where we can have regular check-ups on how we are doing, to share our struggles, our failing, our shortcomings, not as a means of embarrassment, but to build each other up and help bring healing
Confession is hard, and an accountability relationship takes time, but it is so good and necessary for us
What would happen if we lived this out? What would happen if we intentionally and repeatedly gathered with a few other believers to confess sin and pray for each other?
Challenge: if you don’t have someone in your life that you can share real, honest life struggles with, find someone! Put the work in to build a relationship with, to whom you can be held accountable, and for who you can pray for healing.
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.