Accountable, But to Whom?

Perhaps the most difficult task of every person alive is that of being accountable to someone and this is most notable within the Body of Christ. I will be the first to speak up for I understand that being accountable to another is the most difficult assignment that has been given to me. However, over the course of these 70+ years, accountability has always been on my ‘to do’ list.

In the beginning, I was accountable to my parents and older brothers, and my siblings were brutal!!. When in the homes of aunts and uncles or grandparents my accountability was to them. At Sunday School another set of adults became my authority figures and the list goes on and on and on. Sometimes I did not especially like for someone to have authority over me, but as I have learned, God prepares those folks for reasons we do not always understand.

We Will Give Account of ‘Self’ to God

The question then arises, “Where does this ‘authority’ come from?” Because the Bible and the Church has been a ‘constant’ in my life, literally from the moment of birth (my parents enrolled me in the “Cradle Roll Department” the first Sunday after the Monday I was born) church attendance was the norm. Accountability was understood although I most likely did not hear the word often and probably did not see the word in print until my teenage years. Webster’s Dictionary, no doubt, is the place I found the meaning. The practice of accountability was in place long before there was a cognitive understanding of it.

I am and you are accountable to someone most of the time and to God all of the time. “For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For this reason Christ died and returned to life, so that he may be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But you who eat vegetables only—why do you judge your brother or sister? And you who eat everything—why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.” 12 Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:7-12 NET2.

Everyone has most likely been accused of ‘judging another’ simply because of what another dislikes. At issue here is the fact that Jesus told a group of Pharisees not to judge another. However, in most cases today Jesus’ statement has been abused because there is a prominent misuse and misunderstanding of God’s Word. There is a valid argument, however.

Authority of God in Accountability

Our first responsibility is with the authority of God which comes to us from His Word and in His presence. We are accountable to Him primarily and His inerrant Word is our source of knowledge. No doubt the matter of interpretation comes into play and that is the reason, at least in my opinion, there are scores of denominations who claim they each have the truth and everyone else is incorrect. For this reason, not everyone will agree with what I write herein. But, let us begin with the premise that God does have the final authority over us and move on with this understanding. Paul reminds us, “ For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”

In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 Paul discusses the matter of spiritual gifts that are distributed according to the decision of the Holy Spirit whereas every person is important, “But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided. 19 If they were all the same member, where would the body be? 20 So now there are many members, but one body.” Each member is just as important as the next and accountable to one another, not being subject to the other, but simply accountable to one another in faith. But this faith is obvious by how we utilize our spiritual gifts. ”So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that—and tremble with fear. 20 But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works.” James 2:17-22.

Accountability requires that our faith is actively demonstrated by our actions, by the use of the spiritual gift given by the Spirit of God. Much is given to the faithful steward of that which is provided by God. Spiritual growth is often called righteousness or sanctification, but sadly are often misunderstood terms and used to denigrate brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not accountability, but judgment.

Often times those who misunderstand spiritual growth, righteousness and sanctification defend themselves by inaccurately accusing another with the phrase ‘you are self-righteous.’ Granted, those who are spiritually mature, are righteous and progressing in sanctification sometimes misuse or appear to misuse the Word of God when correctly describing those who are lost and without Christ. In the end everyone is accountable to God and our actions and words give testament to who we are, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Offspring of vipers! How are you able to say anything good, since you are evil? For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart. 35 The good person brings good things out of his good treasury, and the evil person brings evil things out of his evil treasury. 36 I tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37. We must make certain that our words reflect our actions and our actions reflect our words.

Can You Identify With These People?

The Bible is replete with written accounts of people who have demonstrated just how our accountability to God functions. Here are a shortlist of names whose lives reflect that fact: Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Moses, David, Joseph, Ruth, Esther, Samson, Samuel, Jonah, Noah, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Gideon, Ezekiel, Daniel, Mary, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, Timothy, James, Titus, Barnabas, and the list goes on. However, the Master Teacher is Jesus Christ when He said to the Father, “Not my will, but Your will be done…” And Isaiah wrote, “Here Am I Lord, Send Me.”

Jesus is Lord.

 

About Bob Williford

Conservative Southern Baptist pastor, missionary, and personal evangelist. An avid supporter of Texas Tech Athletics. Enjoy oil painting, writing and woodworking. My wife, children, and grandchildren are my joy. Reading and writing are great for relaxing......
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