Accountable to Who?

Over the past couple years I have been involved in many conversations about accountability. Accountability is usually spoken of in broad and specific terms. Sometimes an individual is said to be accountable to another individual or group. Other times a group is said to be accountable to a larger group. Ultimately we are all accountable to God, but this post is not about that… it is about the accountability we have towards one another.

Pragmatically the scenario above works out like this. I might ask Alan, Gary, and Stan to hold me accountable in a certain area. I also may place myself under the authority of what is commonly known as a “local church” for accountability. Also, you will find that a small group (etc.) is urged to do a similar thing, to place themselves under the authority of a larger group, usually the “local church” that they are associated with.

I sense that this view of accountability is different than what we see in scripture. The idea that we choose who will hold us accountable does not fit. Rather, it is the duty of all our brothers and sisters to hold us accountable. In a sense, we all have authority over each other because we have all been instructed to submit to one another. To say that one group holds you accountable while another has no right is very damaging to the unity that we should have in Christ.

So, how does this all work out in scripture? Let’s look at a few verses (I encourage you to see their context, but I will only quote what I need to make my points).

1. Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Paul encourages the Colossians to hold each other accountable by teaching and admonishing one another.

2. Hebrews 10:24-25 “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deed, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

Here we see our duty to hold our brothers and sisters accountable by urging them to love and good deeds. This verse is also important because it tells us that if we are not encouraging our brothers when we meet then we are forsaking them.

3. 1 Corinthians 14:26 “When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”

Paul tells Corinth that accountability happens whenever they assembling, by bringing a psalm, a teaching, revelation, tongue, interpretation, etc. All these things should be done for edification.

4. Hebrews 12:14-16 “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.”

This verse probably hits the closest to what people think “accountability” is today. But I believe we hold each other accountable best when we do the previous three points. By looking at accountability as encouraging, teaching, admonishing, etc. one another we will best be able to see to it that no roots of bitterness spring up.

What do you think about accountability? Are we to find someone to make us accountable or should we realize that we are already accountable to all of our brothers and sisters? How does this idea of accountability work with your understanding of the “local” church?

Comments

  1. Alan Knox says

    Me: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    God: “Yes!”

    -Alan

  2. My guess is that the idea of “picking and choosing” who we will be accountable to is more of a practical thing. In the first century, there just weren’t as many Christians in a town as there were now. In the small town that I live in, there seems to be a church on every corner. Practically speaking, it would be hard for me to be “accountable” to every single Christian/body of believers in this community. So from a practical standpoint, I find a church/congregation with which to worship and be accountable to. It’s not that I don’t think that others can’t speak into my life…I think that it’s just more of a practical thing (at least from my personal perspective…others might not personally view it this way).

  3. Alan

    :)

    Rhea

    I am really glad that you continue to comment on my blog to offer your perspective. It helps me understand where people who think differently than I do are coming from. I also think it helps others who think similarly to you.

    I understand the practicality of picking a single “local church” to join and be a part of. I would not ask anyone to stop doing that, nor am I saying it is wrong.

    The point of my post, however, was to point out the fact that it does not matter which group we choose, it does not negate the fact that we are all accountable to one another. This does not mean that you have to go out and meet every Christian in your town, state, country, or world. But those Christians who God does put in your path are people whom you should consider, regardless of their “local church” or denomination, etc.

    I assume you have friends who are Christians that do not meet in the same building that you do on Sunday mornings. This is similar to what I am talking about… only a little more broad.

    I hope this clarifies what I was attempting to say in my post.

    Thanks again for the comment.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  4. Lew,

    I definitely agree with you :-)

    I think that we probably see more “eye to eye” on this issue than we realize….I might just not be explaining myself as well as I could be. I definitely do agree that we really are accountable to EVERYONE, and that in our daily lives, we should be open to allowing others from outside our “local body of believers” to speak into our lives….whether that be encouragement, or teaching, or even, *gasp* rebuking.

  5. Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney says

    I’ve seen in some circles, (namely women…I can’t speak to men!) accountability groups or partners become either a gossip session or a bragging session, depending on the person’s circumstances.

    I think we need to focus on being accountable to CHRIST. If we have a real relationship with Him, we feel the “prick” when we’re out of line and out of His will for us.

    I’m not saying accountability partners or groups are a bad thing, I’ve indeed seen good ones. But many times they’re nothing more than a check off on our spiritual to-do list.

  6. Aussie John says

    Lew,

    Accountable to God, alone, responsible for, and towards, my brother!