Last week I wrote about the importance of setting aside time to spend alone with God. Have a Quiet Time.
Today I want to tackle a subject that we have a harder time adapting into our lives – especially us guys – and that is Accountability.
When God established the early church through the disciples, there were two words that described the means they used to go about the mission. The first word was Kerygma. This translates proclamation or preaching. The second word that really stood out was the word Koinonia. This meant participating in something together. The combination of these two things made the witness of the early church powerful and effective. You see, many people were convinced of the truth in the preaching because of the way those early Christians showed love to one another.
Paul wrote in Philippians 2:1-2 “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal!” Jesus said it this way in John 12:34-35 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.”
So how do we fulfill this command to be there for one another. To love one another. Paul wrote to the Galatians (6:1-2) “Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.2Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Now let me first say this was written to the church in Galatia. This is not an instruction manual and how to deal with those who don’t know Christ but rather those who are followers of Jesus. Restoring does not come naturally to us. In fact, it goes against our “mind-your-own-business” culture. If we “catch” someone sinning, our first instinct is to look the other way. But Paul is clear. We are not called to look the other way. This would not benefit our brother or sister. James writes in James 5:19-20 “My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life from death and cover a multitude of sins.” The “sinner” here is a follower of Jesus and sin in the life of a Christian is worse than sin in the life of an unbeliever. God expects His children to obey His Word. So what do we do when we see a fellow believer wandering from the truth? We pray for them. We should seek to help them. Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up conflicts but love covers all offenses.” This doesn’t mean that love “sweeps the dirt under the rug.” Where there is real love, there is also truth. Where there is truth, there is honest confession of sin and cleansing and restoration. Love not only helps the offender to face sins and deal with them, but it also assures him that those sins are forgiven and “remembered no more!”
Remember Jesus taught this kind of gentle restoration and as usual he taught with more than words. He taught with action. At the last supper – the night that Jesus was betrayed – he took on the position of a servant and washed the feet of the disciples. Then he told them, “now what I have done, you do to each other. I have set the example for you.”
Remember that he even washed the feet of the one who would betray him and the one who would deny him as well as the rest who would desert him.
He washed their feet to make them clean.
Spiritual foot washing has the same purpose: to wash off the dirt and make a person clean again. If this “footwashing” is to be gentle then we must be aware of the temperature of the water.
If we have a superior, holier than thou attitude, it’s like plopping down a basin of icy cold water and saying “stick you nasty feet in there.”
If we are angry and condemning it’s like offering to scald their feet in a pot of boiling water.
The only way the person with dirty feet is going to appreciate it is if we use the warm water of love and truth. (gentle spirit)
I remember one time when I was in first grade we went on a field trip to our Civic Center and we had a buddy that we had to hold hands with the entire time that we were there.
Koinonia in the church is a lot like the buddy system we had back them. We must spend time together as a family and we must do it intentionally. It requires and calls for more than a casual greeting at church but more of a sticking close together on a regular on-going basis. This is why it is important that you have a small group of people that you can be transparent with. Accountability partners are so important. If you don’t have one or two, I encourage you to get one or two. People that are like you, that can be honest with you and you with them. People that you trust with your life. Also this is why Small Groups/LifeGroups are so important. You see, If we are practicing this in our church, we will laugh together, cry together, serve together and play together. Because of that we will be able to struggle together when the waters get rough. We can pull each other up if we get in above our heads and we can call for help if someone starts going under.
The Bible describes the church as a
- building made of living stones
- a family
- a bride
- a body
Since we are like a body, we have to function together. We support each other. We feel for each other. We don’t gossip about each other (even if you think it is “helping”). You build – not tear…If one part of the body gets hurt, your whole body should stop and take notice.
I remember when I was playing shortstop as a 12 year old and I went down to field a ground ball and the ball took a bad hop and bounced up and hit me in the nose. My nose was broken, I had a black eye and huge gash. It tooks months for all of that to completely heal and my body bore the burden of the pain along with my nose.
That is the way it is in the church. When one member suffers, we all share the pain. But if we are going to be able to bear each other’s burdens, we have to be real with each other. We also must be trustworthy. We can’t run our mouths. If you do – whether you think it is a big deal or not – it matters. What is not a big deal to you is a big deal to the next person. IT IS WRONG TO OPEN YOUR MOUTH ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE TO SOMEONE ELSE! Gossip is the number 1 killer of the church and it disrupts Koinonia!
Let’s face it – most of us go to a lot of trouble to HIDE our faults! We don’t want to put our weaknesses on display. And when we come to church, we want to maintain that same facade. We need to remember that the purpose of the church is to give us a place where we can be real with each other. How can we help each other if no one admits they have a need.
It reminds me of the man who went to the Emergency Room with an injured arm. He asked the receptionist if his insurance would cover the services, and she assured him, “Oh don’t worry about that. The doctor is very understanding. If your insurance won’t cover the surgery, he’ll just touch up the x-rays.”
Too many of us would rather “touch up the x-rays” instead of admitting our problems. God intends for the church to be the place where people can admit their weaknesses and find compassion and help.
Of course you don’t want to confess your sins to just anyone. That’s why it’s so important to build close relationships within the body.
I will say it again. I believe that every man and woman who is a Christian needs an “accountability partner(s).” I believe they should be encouraging, consistent, confidential relationships with someone of the same sex.
Will you find someone today with whom you can be accountable? Someone within the Body of Christ that you trust to share with, that you trust to bear your burdens, and restore you gently. Will you do the same for them?
WE NEED OTHERS. God made us that way.