A Call To Accountability
In 1995, the oldest bank in England announced it was seeking bankruptcy. It lost nearly one billion dollars in a stock gamble. At the time it went under, it held over $100 million in assets for Queen Elizabeth.
A year earlier, the chief trader at their Singapore office started betting some very big money on Japan's stock market. He made a lot of money for the company, but then an earthquake hit Kobe, Japan, and in January 1995, the stock market took a severe nose dive.
Thinking it was a very temporary loss, the trader started doubling up on his gambling, hoping to make very large sums when the market rebounded. Instead of the bank cutting its losses, it just kept pouring money into the Singapore exchange and their employee would just use it to bet more on the market. They sent nearly $900 million dollars to this man, and he in turn, lost it all.
How could one twenty-eight-year-old employee in Singapore lose nearly a billion dollars and ruin the oldest and most influential bank in England? It all boiled down to a lack of supervision. A lack of accountability. For those who are actively engaged in stock market trading for companies, they are NEVER allowed to keep their own books. They are NEVER allowed to run freely without some sort of double check system in place. Except in this case. The employee was the only one who invested and he kept his own books. That mixture is as deadly as a match and a stick of dynamite. It's like a school boy getting to grade all of his own tests.
The dictionary defines accountability as liable or explainable.
I have to point out that there is a big difference between fellowship and accountability. For the most part, fellowship does not extend beyond the surface level of routine conversation. While accountability comes down to asking and answering the tough questions. It pushes into the real issues of life. Accountability fosters challenging, probing discussions.
Accountability within the church is an issue that scares most people to death. People are afraid that if they become real and honest with each other, there will be judgment and disapproval for their shortcomings. Pastors many times are the worst. Instead of modeling accountability, we often want to think of ourselves as above being accountable and as having to answer to no one. Not only is that type of thinking dangerous, it is unbiblical.
This morning I want to look at two questions concerning the topic of accountability. The first being, why?
Why Do We Need Accountability?
Because Satan, our enemy, loves to see us stumble
1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT) Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
Ron Hutchcraft uses the analogy of the hunting lion. A lion will not go after a whole herd of gazelles. It waits until one is off by itself, when it does not have protection of the others. Then it pounces. The moral of Ron's story is, “don't be a lion's lunch.”
Nothing can kill a ministry faster than when the leader stumbles and his or her failures are brought to light. No longer do people see all the good things that the ministry has done and/or is doing, but they only see the failures of the person. Satan just loves this. Because now the ministry is not as effective in building the kingdom.
That is why we need accountability partners. So that together we can help each other stand up to the devil. To work as the herd does to protect each other from the hunting lion. We can make sure that when we start to see another stumble, we can warn them of the potential dangers, and help to catch them.
The world is watching closely
Not only does Satan like to see us stumble, but he knows that the world is watching our every move, and they are many who are out there just waiting for us to fall. They are just waiting to say, “See this person is no better than us. They are just hypocrites.” What was the publics reaction when the Jim Bakker/PTL scandal can to light.
Matthew 5:16 says, Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. And Ephesians 5:15-16 (HCSB) Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk--not as unwise people but as wise--making the most of the time, because the days are evil. I have said this before, “Remember that you may be the only Jesus that an unsaved person ever meets.”
The other night I was at the Move to the Extreme event at GCC. The content we were putting out at the event was an anti-drug/alcohol/smoking message. There was also a strong Christian undertone to the event. We brought in a group of professional wrestlers to help us get these messages across. During intermission though, a number of the wrestlers were out back smoking. A woman who came through the area noticed this and as she passed me, made a rather disparaging comment about the hypocrisy of what she had seen.
The world is watching, and just waiting for us to fall. Accountability helps us to catch each other before this happens.
To remain right with the Lord
Christ paid a tremendous price for our redemption. Why would we want to blow this relationship with someone who loved us so much?
Accountability helps us to answer the tough questions. It helps us to stay pure in our thoughts and actions. We know that having a partner who can ask us the tough questions will drive us to think about what we are doing.
Judgment is coming
Matthew 12:36 HCSB I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. Eccl. 12:14 For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.
Each one of us will one day have to stand before the great judge and give an account for our actions. Accountability helps to prepare us for that day. It helps us live a pure and holy life so that when we do have to give an answer, we can say we did it according to God's standards.
It encourages other believers and ourselves
Galatians 6:2 (NASB) Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
The sense is, that every man has special temptations and easily fallen into sins, which constitute a heavy burden. We should aid each other in regard to these, and help one another to overcome them. Accountability is not about condemnation. It is about helping another overcome and grow stronger in Christ. We understand that we too have issues that we are not proud of.
1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 (CEV) Christ died for us, so that we could live with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. That's why you must encourage and help each other, just as you are already doing.
Author Louie Giglio writes, “An accountability group is a place where you are consistently candid, open, honest and vulnerable concerning your potential and actual shortcomings and failures in an atmosphere of mutual love, trust, acceptance and challenge, toward the goal of being conformed to the image of Christ and finishing the race.”
As you are running the race, and when your legs ache, your throat burns, and your whole body cries out for you to stop. This is when friends and fans are most valuable. Their encouragement helps you push through the pain to continue the race. In the same way, Christians are to encourage one another. A word of encouragement offered at the right moment can be the difference between continuing well and collapsing along the way.
So we have seen why it is so important to be accountable. Now let us look at what happens to us when we are accountable.
What Happens To Us When We Are Accountable?
Growth in our Christian walk
As you place ourselves in the hands of others, you will find that your walk will be strengthened. You learn from each other. As you deal with critical issues you gain greater insight. You get another perspective that helps you grow.
Accountability is not just surface conversation. As together you work out the tough issues that face each of you, your relationship gets deeper. You go beyond just sports and the weather, because you know you can ask the tough questions and get an honest answer.
Often we are blinded to a situation until our accountability partner brings it to our attention. Often we don't even listen to our spouse. It takes someone outside of the situation to show us our fault. Jim Houston of Regent College says, “Sin always tends to make us blind to our own faults. We need a friend to stop us from deceiving ourselves that what we are doing is not so bad after all. We need a friend to help us over come our low self-image, inflated self-importance, selfishness, pride, our deceitful nature, our dangerous fantasies and so much else.”
Our lives are often out of balance. I am a type A personality and it is easy for me to get too much on my plate. An accountability partner can help to point out the imbalance. Accountability helps us to set priorities based upon Scripture and then hold us to those.
A sense of personal satisfaction and joy in knowing that your thoughts and actions are matching up to God's standards. Listen to the words of 1 John 2:28 (MSG) And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we'll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives.
We have a support system
The giant redwood tree grows to be the tallest and largest diameter tree known to man. You would think that the root system of this tree goes as deep as it grows tall. But no. Their roots only go a few feet down. They survive storms and high winds because they grow next to other redwoods. They root systems are bound together with those around it, causing them to become incredibly strong. They do not fall over because of this mutual support system. In the same manner, an accountability partner can provide for this type of support system.
Though accountability is often considered a nasty word in the church, it is a should be a vital part of every believer's life. And it is not just something for men. Women, you too need to have an accountability partner. I know that it is scary to be open and honest, sharing things that you do not want anyone else to know. But God already knows. And I can tell you from personal experience, I think twice about my thoughts and actions when I know that the next time I meet with my accountability partner I am going to have to answer the tough questions he may ask.
My challenge this morning is, if you don't already have an accountability partner or are part of an accountability group, to find one. Start meeting with someone you trust. I can guarantee that your Christian walk will be better.