How Dare You Keep Me Accountable to That!

ACCOUNTABILITY
Accountability is a funny thing. When we become Christians we eventually come around to knowing that we need accountability. More often, however, we make it our priority to get really good at holding others accountable. We are very serious and committed to the accountability of others regarding their faith, their witness, and their obedience. From time to time our friends will come to us and return the favor and it is very difficult to accept. It is never easy to be on the receiving end of the accountability stick.

In all our efforts to ensure our loved ones (and acquaintances…and total strangers) are toeing the proverbial Christian line, I believe that we routinely miss the 2 most important Christ-like behaviors. In all our zeal and good intentions, there are 2 areas to which we never call others to account. I want to focus on these 2 traits that Christ exhibited that truly require our utmost attention in holding ourselves and others accountable. Bear with me as I put the microscope on each of us (author included) and shoot very close to home here. I expect this to sting a bit because it stung greatly as it was revealed to me. We are very quick to call others to account, but are we holding them accountable for what is really important?

**Disclaimer – this article is directed towards our efforts in the accountability of others and not targeting our personal convictions. Many may hold strong convictions in the areas listed below, which I do not intend to criticize in any way. My concern is strictly with what we are missing in our accountability. **

As we sit back and ponder the ways to which we can leave our mark on the accountability factor for all those we know, we must think of the most Christ-like traits…several come to mind immediately:

1. Accountability to how we dress and modest feminine clothing.
2. Accountability to what we watch on TV and the music we listen to.
3. Accountability to having a TV at all!
4. Accountability to what preachers we listen to…or who that preacher has associated with at one time.
5. Accountability to proper doctrine!
6. Accountability toward homeschooling, women in the workplace, who we vote for, holidays we do or don’t celebrate, how much we give and where we give.
7. You name it and we will keep you accountable to it!

We are so good at calling these out when we see it. Are we definitely getting towards Christ-likeness with these? Are these common topics bringing the beauty of Christ to mind? I must say, they do not. Do these things really jump out as the Christ-like traits? They do not. Are these the behaviors that really resemble Christ? Are these the behaviors that our sanctification is leading to? Sanctification is the process of squeezing us through the meat grinder so that when we come out the other side we look more like Christ. Is this what it looks like? I think not. Each of these may require accountability as will drugs, alcohol, sexual impurity, and lying. But we are still missing 2 huge ones that are vital to our witness.

CHRIST-LIKENESS
So, what are we missing? We are so quick to hold others accountable, yet we miss these. I propose that the 2 traits most Christ-like requiring an increase in attention for accountability are:

1. Demonstrating humility.
2. Loving one another.

1. Humility: Was Christ humble? Yes – infinitely so! In Philippians 2:5-9 we see that Christ humbled Himself by leaving his glory in Heaven and emptying Himself to be in the form of a servant – a human. He had to be come nothing to be like us. He was humble to the point of obedience in death on the cross. Christ was infinitely humble. In Zechariah 9:9 it was prophesied that He was to come humble, on a donkey. He didn’t come like the king that He is, with an entourage, trumpets, majestic horses, and great fanfare. He came on a donkey, lowly and humble, a man of no reputation.This is a Christ-like trait that we should be demonstrating as Christians. We should be known as humble. Is that our reputation? Is this one of the things that people say of you?

Now, with focusing on humility, I don’t mean that we need to be humble when we come to hold others accountable on the laundry list above. I mean we need to HOLD others accountable to being humble! We need to come to our brothers and sisters and encourage them to be like Christ – lowly, humble, gentle, and kind in all things…even in our strong and bold defense of the gospel.

Paul, James, and Peter get in the act as well in 1 Corinthians 10:1, James 4:6-10, and 1 Peter 3:8, 5:5-6, where we are told to humble ourselves, be tenderhearted, like Christ who was meek and gentle. “A bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not extinguish.” (Isaiah 42:3)

Are we urging each other to be humble? Are we stirring each other up towards humility? Are we seeking a humble spirit? Christ was humble and we should be humble. We need help being humble since it is contrary to the sinful pride and arrogance buried deep in our hearts.

2. Love: Was Christ Loving? Yes, of course, infinitely so! This is a touchy subject, however, because talking about Christ and His love can quickly brand you as a liberal with no backbone. I address this below. One of our tenants is “I love you enough to tell you the truth.” This is admirable in many many cases and horrendously unloving in many others. Do we sense the balance and do we see the line enough to not cross over it like a bull in a china shop? The line – the distinction – is defined by trait number 1. If we approach others with humility and true love for that person then it will be profitable. If we approach them in pride and arrogance then we are just hiding behind the word LOVE while we feed the self-righteous monster inside us. Do we truly demonstrate the Christ-like love we are called to?

Again, I’m not speaking of holding others accountable to the laundry list above in a loving way, I’m talking about HOLDING others accountable to love one another. We must love one another as followers of Christ.

All the laws and commandments are boiled down to two: Love God will all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mat 22:34-40). The commandments come down to truly loving our neighbor. In John’s first epistle, he summarizes a long passage about love by stating that this is what we were commanded: “believe in the Lord Jesus and love one-another.” (1 John 3:22-24). We are commanded to love one another. Why is this overarching commandment the one least discussed? I suggest a reason below.

Are we seeking a spirit of love towards one another? Are we stepping out of our obsession with ourselves long enough to actually love one another? Are we calling each other to love? Are we holding each other accountable: a) in love, and b) to love? Are we placing love for one another as the primary commandment and law between mankind where it belongs?  We should be. We need helping in loving one-another. We have to stop loving ourselves if we are to love one-another.

YOU LIBERAL
How dare you hold me accountable to that! Shouldn’t we be bold with the truth? Yes, if you can do it in a Christ-like manner with love and humility. Don’t we have a responsibility to call out the unrepentant sin, false doctrine, and immodesty? Yes, if we can do it in a Christ-like manner with love and humility. I can hear some shouting and the computer screen, “That’s weak! That is classic liberal, touchy feeling, God is love, ecumenical, mumbo jumbo!” Or, maybe you aren’t vocalizing it but if we are honest, those of us in the fundamental and reformed camp must admit that we cringe at the “God is love” crowd and the “peace and love” crowd. Isn’t this all for the hippy Jesus freaks and the ecumenical crowd? If we are honest, our impulse is to recoil from the suggestion that we must hold each other accountable to Humility and Love as the utmost importance.

But, let’s not recoil. Instead let’s make our greatest desire to be Christ-like. Let’s give into the sanctification process and let our attitudes be conformed into the image of Christ who was infinitely humble and infinitely loving. He commanded us to love. These concepts aren’t owned by the emergent church and Rob Bell. Love and humility is owned by Christ! He is the founder of such things. Take it back. Let us be known as those who are truly humble and truly love one-another…even our enemies and those who disagree with us.

If we want to be like Christ, we must humble ourselves in the form of a servant and to the point of death, while loving one another preemptively and sacrificially to the point of death.

We need to help each other in this.

Let’s together hold each other accountable to be more like Jesus.

17 thoughts on “How Dare You Keep Me Accountable to That!

  1. doreen says:

    This might sound trite, we talk about humility and love, but in this day and age, what does it look like?

    If someone was to say, you are not being loving, ok, what does being loving look like? They ought to know, they said it.
    Still, we know we need those characteristics, and God has them in good supply.

    Let’s seek Him for them.

    God bless.

  2. Staying on the narrow path between the two steep chasims of the “God loves everyone equally, including Hitler” camp, and the “God hates everyone but me” camp, can be quite a treacherous journey. All the while trying to balance without falling into either side is made more difficult when both sides accuse you of leaning too much toward the other side.

    Great post, ATG.

  3. RS says:

    Good reminder ATG. We hear a lot of “holding others accountable”, but I’ve never really cared for the concept. They aren’t accountable to me. And I don’t see in the Scriptures where its my place to hold them accountable to God. What I do see is that it is my job to proclaim God’s truth, expose darkness by that truth, warn of spiritual danger. All out of love for God, His Word, and His people. And always holding myself accountable to the Word.

    Excellent point doreen. We can be loving and humble, but it will rarely to never be perceived as that by those in disagreement when we stand faithfully to truth and righteousness. Especially by those in spiritual conflict with God’s truth. “Love” today has become synonymous with acceptance. So if you dare to call sin what it is, you will be perceived as “unloving”. “Humility” has taken on a meaning more akin to Pacifism in regard to others. So any sure and confident stand for God’s truth and righteousness, particularly in an interaction with another, is often perceived as being “proud”. Jesus was indeed the very model of love and humility, yet that didn’t stop others from hating Him, even falsely accusing Him of being of the prince of demons. Though it is critical that we use great care in how we represent Christ to the world, the measure or standard of our behavior must never be based upon how we are perceived by men, but on how true we are in thought and behavior to Christ.

    Pilgrim: I take it you’ve been blogging a while? :)

  4. abidingthroughgrace says:

    @Doreen & RS – Praise be to God that we have the Word to help us see what love and humility looks like. We must be saturated with the text of the Gospels and the Epistles to see what it looks like. We can’t use the world’s definition, but only the Biblical definition. I think the key point is this:

    Christ was so humble that he DIED on the cross for God’s children.

    Christ was so loving that he DIED on the cross for God’s children.

    Are we humble and loving enough to die? To lay down our lives? I believe that is the question we must ask.

    @Pilgrim, Amen, brother. It is a fine line and one that we must walk diligently. I believe we should always err on the side of humility, love, grace, mercy, and sacrifice.

    In the love of Christ,
    -atg

  5. Linda says:

    Wonderful article. I believe we get accountability confused with expectations. I’ve learned over time that we can be very disappointed when we hold high expectations for others. They will never perform as I expect and nor will I perform as they expect…
    Also, as people are learning in their walk with Christ we are all on different levels. What I mean is some have learned submission to the Lord to a greater degree than others and we cannot impose what we’ve learned on them by force

    doreen said something that is very true and works and that is “let us seek Him for them”…. We should always compare ourselves FIRST in our walk with Christ and how he treats us… How humble and gentle he is with us.. Does he yell or force us to do things or is he quiet, calm and very patient… I’ve found that when I let Jesus satisfy-satiate me with his righteousness,,, where all others fail —I begin to learn to treat others more patiently and in a calm and loving manor–regardless of how they treat me back… Why because I am FILLED—Matthew 5:6. This causes me to want to BUILD the other person up and not tear them down

    One passage that I just love in the Proverbs says “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart”- Pr.3:3.

    It all amounts to YOKING with Jesus and letting the submissiveness of our hearts be controlled by the Holy Spirit which will gently and meekly convict the other person to accountability….

  6. “Sanctification is the process of squeezing us through the meat grinder so that when we come out the other side we look more like Christ.” ATG ~ Is this statement what you believe? I was unsure of your stance as I read that paragraph.

    You also say, ” Let’s give into the sanctification process and let our attitudes be conformed into the image of Christ who was infinitely humble and infinitely loving.” Maybe this answers my question above?

    The reason I ask is because my home group spent this past year reading/studying ‘The Gospel-Centered Life’ which presented sanctification as more of monergistic/’contemplate the Gospel’-type of definition of sanctification.

    I have always understood sanctification as a ‘process’ as you suggest. Would you say that the Christian has a role in his sanctification?

    Thanks!
    ~Yvonne

  7. abidingthroughgrace says:

    Yvonne, Hello. Thanks for your comment and great question.

    I do believe that the sanctification process is like a meat grinder in that we are run through many trials and testing of our faith and conformed into the image of Christ. We are changed and change can hurt. I like the metaphor of the meat grinder because we are the same material, but different on the other end and the process takes the form of reconstruction, which can be painful. I hope that helps clarify.

    I believe that the Christian does have a role in his sanctification in only this area: abiding in Christ. We must believe and have faith in Christ and then we will bear fruit. This process is God’s work through us as we abide. But even this is not of us, but a gift from God as we see in Eph 2:8. So, God does the work, but we are responsible. It is a mysterious thing.

    Some scripture:
    Romans 6:19: I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

    ***Here WE present our members as slaves and it leads to sanctifiction.

    1Thes 4:3-4: [3] For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; [4] that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor…

    ***again “your sanctification: that you abstain…” This is obedience.

    1 Peter 1:1-3: [1:1] Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, [2] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

    ***Now “in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus” – responsible, yet of the Spirit. More here:

    1 Thes 5:3: Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    And finally, probably the most clear passage from Philippians:
    Philippians 2:12-13: [12] Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, [13] for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

    ***Work it out, for it is God who works in you.

    I hope this helps clarify my meaning.

    In the immeasurable riches of Christ,
    -atg

  8. LInda says:

    I have struggled with sanctification… I know it’s monergistic but I’m confused as to knowing if I’m doing God’s will or God is doing his will through me.. It’s hard to explain.. I have let fatalism dominate my thinking some and it has caused me to become a bit paralyzed. Does this make any sense? If God works in me to will and to do his good pleasure” then wouldn’t that mean that it doesn’t matter what I do to bring it about that God will bring it about regardless of what I do or not do?

    abidinginChrist,,, your verses here make sense and are very helpful in that we do have responsibility to be OBEDIENT and to ABIDE but that’s where it ends and God does the rest through the Holy Spirit in me.. But yet as you said,, even the obedience and abiding are from God…

    This is a huge mystery to me all I can do is fall back on 1 John 3:20 — “God is greater than our hearts”
    1Jo 3:19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
    1Jo 3:20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

  9. RS says:

    Linda:
    In Sanctification, God does the work of making us holy unto Him. We do not, and cannot do such a work. It is incumbent upon us to yield to His Spirit for that to take place. He empowers us to do His will, yet it is up to us to do it, in His strength (such as denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him – all actions we do). As we do so, He sanctifies us. Which is why we look forward to the words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt.25:23).

  10. I second Bridges’ book. I also point out the Bible has MUCH to say about us working and pressing on, regarding our growth in Christ, which is our sanctification. This process certainly is not synergistic (in which each side depends on the other) but neither is it monergistic – because we do cooperate and work as God works on and in us.

  11. Linda says:

    Thanks Rs, Lyn and Manfred for scripture which comforts me and encourages me and sets me free.. Thanks for the book you recommended Lyn.. I’ll look into it

    In Christ and all for HIS glory and honor,
    Linda

  12. todd3588 says:

    I would add to Manfred’s post just above…
    We, as blood-bought children of God, are to be:

    working,
    pressing-on,
    putting-off the old man,
    putting-on the new man,
    striving toward godliness,
    buffeting our bodies – bringing them into subjection,
    overcoming the world,
    denying ourselves,
    taking-up our crosses everyday,
    laboring in prayer,
    sanctifying ourselves,
    consecrating ourselves,
    doing the will of God,
    obeying His commandments,
    renewing our minds,
    be perfect.

    It’s quite comforting to me to know that we are His workmanship….for the above list.

    Todd
    Texas

  13. abidingthroughgrace says:

    Linda, the others have great encouragement. There is always that difficult balance for our feeble human minds to understand. We can end up talking in circles: “God did it, so I now do it, because God gives it to me, so I can do it!” Ah!

    In John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he “Must” be “born again”. HE MUST! be born again, which he cannot do on his own. Its crazy. He must do something that he is incapable of doing.

    In John 15, Abide in Christ so that you’ll bear fruit, but you cannot bear fruit without Christ!

    So, hear is my counsel. Stay in the Word of God and stay in pray. Read sooooo much scripture that it is just bubbling out of you. Read Genesis through Revelation over and over and over again. You must be saturated with the Word. If you are already reading a lot…read more! We must abide in Christ and he will bear the fruit. Rest in Christ, abide in Christ and the fruit will come from God through you. Areas where you are concerned will develop. You suddenly have strength do resist or to give or to love more. You’ll have strength and desire to be different. Obedience is the Fruit.

    In all that, however, keep a close eye on fall into a works righteousness self-justification mode. We can try really hard to bear fruit and end up essentially taping store bought fruit to our branches…they aren’t from God, the wither, decay, and stink.

    these might be helpful to you:

    http://defendingcontending.com/2011/09/13/what-vine-are-you-abiding-in-part-1/

    http://defendingcontending.com/2011/09/23/what-vine-are-you-abiding-in-part-2/

    http://defendingcontending.com/2011/10/22/what-vine-are-you-abiding-in-part-3/

    In the love of Christ,
    -atg

  14. RS says:

    Linda:
    I concur with all those above. But just wanted to add 2 more cents (and hope it doesn’t cause confusion). I’ve seen people make two errors regarding Sanctification:

    1) God does everything, I do nothing. So I’ll just pray for God to take away my temptation with gambling, porn, adultery, homosexuality, covetousness, etc. etc. And I’ll pray God gives me love for that difficult person (even though I hate his guts), that He’ll make me trust Him, and that He’ll make me give to the poor and needy.

    2) I’ll man up and do all the outward things Christians are supposed to do. I’ll say all the right words, go to church, give to the poor and needy, support Pro-life politics, quit cussing, quit drinking, quit flipping off drivers that cut me off. I’ll even set time aside every week to read my Bible, pray for others, buy lots of books from well respected Christian authors. I’ll even teach Sunday School..

    I’ve seen those of #1 spend their whole lives in bondage to sin, waiting for God to “take away their temptations”, never truly dying to themselves and living unto the Spirit. Then tacitly blaming God for not “changing them”, under the distorted notion that they are powerless to do anything, so do nothing lest they somehow deny God’s sovereignty.

    And I’ve seen plenty of those of #2 who do “all the right things”, yet have no real evidence of a changed heart. Their self-discipline extends only so far as their limit is reached, then look out! You could be on the receiving end of the most volatile outburst of rage you’ve ever experienced. Or they lose interest over time, backslide, or justify living not so straight and narrow. And when real trust in God is required, such as a long trauma or life and death emergency, there is usually nothing there but fear and terror in their hearts.

    True Sanctification lies NOT in the middle between these two, but in a separate plane altogether. All throughout Scripture, in both Testaments, is the undeniable principle of obedience. Yet we see that acceptable obedience always originates from a heart after God, rather than a mere outward conformity. At Justification, we are made alive spiritually, given God the Holy Spirit to dwell within, and given the mind of Christ. From new hearts we WANT to do all that is pleasing in His sight, AND have been given the ability to do so. The fruit of righteousness then becomes naturally evident, flowing forth from the life we have in Christ. And Sanctification is a process that comes naturally.

    Hope that helps. And now, after all this truth, the question becomes, “RS, how well are you applying these truths to you”?

  15. Linda says:

    Love it!!!, abidinginChrist to be in God’s word til it’s bubbling over….

    RS you’ve made sense… Essentially for point #1 it means for EXample, God takes care of the Birds but they STILL have to go get the worms….Hah! Thanks

  16. gold price says:

    Even though accountability partnerships are springing up on campuses all over the country, that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Consider some of the questions students are asking each other: “So, how did you spend your time with Suzy last night?” “Have you broken any of the standards that you established? If so, how? How can you make things different next time?” “How are you encouraging each other in purity? in faith? in love?” When necessary, they get even more blunt: “Are you having sex?” “Have you lied to me in answering any of these questions?” These questions may seem quite bold, but if expressed by a trusted friend who is committed to upholding you in prayer, they are a wonderful demonstration of love.

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