Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Accountability


Last week my wife and I watched the movie Courageous.  It was a good film and certainly a wholesome needle in a haystack of garbage that the entertainment industry gives to us.  One line in the movie got under my skin a little bit and I have been thinking about it.  As part of the movie, several fathers sign a declaration that was a public promise to fulfill the Scriptural roles of a husband and father.  As part of the ceremony when they signed it, the pastor said that those men were now "doubly accountable."  I think that line reflects a wrong idea of being accountable to others in the church for our actions.  More importantly, it gives a wrong idea of just what it means to be accountable to God. 
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin [is] always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done [this] evil in Your sight--That You may be found just when You speak, [And] blameless when You judge.  Psalm 51:1-4 NKJV
First, let's refresh our memories as to just what David had done.  First David observed Bathsheba bathing on her roof.  He then called her into him and slept with her resulting in her getting pregnant.  Next, to cover up his actions, he called her husband home from war and did all that he could to get him to go home to his wife.  Her husband was too good of a man to enjoy his wife while his brethren were at war so he refused.  Having no way to cover up his sin, he sent him back to war with his own death sentence.  He was carrying orders to put him in a position where the enemy will kill him.  He ultimately died in battle.  So David committed adultery, he lied, he was dishonest, and he was a murderer.  Despite all of that, David proclaims to God that it was only against Him that he sinned. 

Next we have Nathan, who was a prophet of God.  His role in this was to use a parable to point out David's sin.  He shared with David what he had done wrong and made David see his own sin.  That was part of his role as prophet, to keep David accountable.  Yet, despite that role, David apologized and confessed to God.  He did not ask Nathan for forgiveness.  He went to God. 

This is a great picture of how accountability should play a role in our lives.  First of all, whenever we sin, we sin unto God.  We do not sin against one another.  We may wrong one another.  We may make a victim out of another, but ultimately we are accountable to God.  I am not saying it is wrong to apologize or to make peace with someone who we harm, but we must understand that we are not accountable to them.  God's forgiveness or lack thereof is not premised on their forgiveness or lack thereof.  God's forgiveness is premised in your position with Jesus Christ and nothing else.  When we sin, we are told to confess those sins to God for God to grant us forgiveness.  Yes, we should make peace with anyone we offend, but even that is because we are accountable to God. 

Next we have the role of man in our accountability.  We all should have people who hold us accountable for our words and actions.  We submit ourselves under the authority of pastors, leaders, spouses, family, and friends and we do so with the hopes that they keep us in check should we start to stray.  This does not make us accountable to them.  They have no role in our judgement.  They are not going to stand before God and point out our failures.  Their role is not to make us accountable to them but to remind us that we are accountable to God.  Just as Nathan pointed out to David that David sinned before God, our friends should point out those sinful areas in our lives.  They should do so out of love and concern for our well-being.  Part of the reason I write this blog is that I want those who read it to remind me of the things God has spoken to my heart.  I hold myself to these words just by the fact that I write them and I welcome, encourage, and even desire others to point out what I may be lacking. 

In the end, we are accountable to God and God-alone.  Everyone is accountable to God and everyone will give an account to God.  To say that someone is "doubly accountable" because of some promise made before man is really pointless and silly.  In fact, it is just plain wrong.  Man is nothing compared to God and so unless there was some second god I do not know about there really is no way we can be doubly accountable.  Even subjecting yourself to man does not make you any more accountable then you were before.  Man's role is only to remind you of the fact that you are accountable to God.  Even those men who agree to hold you accountable are accountable to God for how they handle that responsibility.  There is no greater authority than God and so once you understand you are accountable to Him there really is no other place to go. 

Please understand how important that is.  God is not interested in whether or not you signed a piece of paper or if you said "I promise."  You can not stand before God and tell him that you had your fingers crossed and point out some loophole or verbal trickery in any commitment that you have made.  In fact, I daresay that when standing before God, thoughts of deception will not even enter your mind.  Each man will give an account to God for what they did or did not do.  This is even true for Christians.  Our eternal destination may not be in jeopardy, but our rewards are determined by how responsible we were with what we did with the time and resources given to us on earth.  In the end, it will not be about excuses or explanations before God.  I do not even know if we will get to speak.  I do not even know if I would want to.  It will be the truth behind our actions and the revelation of the deepest parts of our hearts. 

It is always a good thing to have people in our life who challenge us.  In fact, that is lacking in so many of today's churches.  People would rather just not rock the boat or risk offending someone.  When someone is bragging about sinful behavior, we should be disgusted and we certainly should not join them in laughing at what is an offense to God.  Trust me, it is not in the example of Jesus to be amused by the sinful acts of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  We should challenge them, in love, and remind them that what they are doing is wrong and that they will be held accountable to God.  To laugh with them or to ignore their actions is to give tacit approval of their wrong deeds and only serves to encourage wrong behavior.  For your own life, have those people who will keep you in check.  We all need to be reminded at times when our actions do not reflect our Lord.  Appreciate their challenge and work with God towards repentance.  Ultimately, understand that we are accountable to God and will have to give an account.  Others can help us remember and we should help others remember.  If we live with the knowledge that we are accountable for all that we do, I am sure we will be doing more for the glory of God. 
But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written: "[As] I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.  Romans 14:10-12 NKJV

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