As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NIV
While I was in college I spent my summers and some weekends working at a Christian camp. During a retreat I met a new intern whom we hit it off as friends (we'll call him Sam). When summer hit, other college kids who had been hired as summer staff started arriving and there was one guy in particular (let's name him Ben) that, although due to our responsibilities our paths hardly crossed, I just did not click with him and there was tension. Sam and Ben became friends and about midway through the summer, Sam approached me, asking if we could talk. He gently took me aside one evening, shared his heart and Scripture, telling me where I was falling short of Biblical community with Ben, whom he also spoke to privately, and encouraged me to pray about the situation, about our hearts, and to do what I could to make an effort with this guy.
I could have easily gotten offended, angry, cold, even let it mess with our friendship, but the manner in which Sam brought up the topic, how he approached me, showed that he himself sought Scripture in how to handle the conversation and hold me accountable for my actions, and even lack thereof, towards Ben. Sam wasn't being judgmental, but rather saw where I needed to be corrected and that spoke greatly to me.
Accountability can be tough. It can be painful, intruding on our personal space, but it is Biblical. We read in Matthew 18:15-17 how as believers we are to handle a situation if a fellow believer sins against us. Ephesians 4:29 says that the words that come out of our mouth should only be “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 echoes this by urging us to encourage one another. What might we be encouraging? Godly living, Biblical community, personal holiness, strengthening each other’s faith, spending time in God’s Word, seeking direction by being in prayer, and the list goes on.
When we have accountability in our life, it encourages spiritual growth and enables humility to develop. None of us are perfect and often we need supporters in our lives who can speak truth to us nonjudgmentally but directly when we fall away from what God’s Word commands of us. This isn’t to say that they’ve mastered what we might be struggling with. This isn’t them pointing out the speck in our eye when they themselves have a plank (Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:37-42), but rather them recognizing an area where we need Biblical correcting. Our greatest tool in accountability is the Word of God, and 2 Timothy 3:16 clearly tells us that Scripture “is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” I wasn’t intentionally trying to divide Sam between two friends who didn’t like one another, but I did need that wake-up call to see where I was falling short of truly obeying and living out what God has asked of me - in this situation in particular it was living in peace and unity with other believers.
How many of us need wake-up calls in areas of our lives where we are either subconsciously not walking the path of righteousness or blatantly disobeying our Lord? Ephesians 5:11 says “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” That is accountability. Does it penetrate our heart? Can it get messy? Can it be shameful to acknowledge? Yes, but when we are choosing to handle accountability in the way that honors God, that obeys His Word, there is glory in that, and we must accept it graciously, humbly, and willingly in order to grow as believers.
1. What is an area I need to be held accountable in, and am I willing to have someone keep me accountable for __________ in my life?
2. How do I typically respond when someone is keeping me accountable, and do I need to take a step back, gain perspective, and humble myself to receive it?
Lord I ask that You grant me a willing heart and ears to receive Biblical correcting when I need it. Help me to not be prideful, self-righteous, defensive or angry when I am approached about an area in my life that I am falling short in. Let Your Word be the source of reproof and fill me with righteous thoughts, so that I may act on what I have read and heard. Thank You for providing us with the greatest resource for us to examine our lives with, that gives me the direction of how I am to honor You with my life and become more like Your Son.
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