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Responsibilities of the Church 9: Provide Accountability

Responsibilities of the Church Day 9 – Provide Accountability

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” (Galatians 6:1-5, ESV)

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16, ESV)

Accountability: the obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions (Webster’s Dictionary).

While individually we are all held accountable to God, collectively the local church provides a network of accountability among its members. This was part of God’s plan for His people and gives us an added layer of defense and protection, if we are willing to submit to those who seek to lead us. A person with no accountability will fail. This is true of both the believer and the unbeliever. We are held accountable at school, at work, within relationships, driving a vehicle, as a member of a community, as a child, as a tax payer, etc. To refuse to submit in these areas will result in certain failure, including broken relationships, unemployment and a general lack of success, accidents, and possibly even imprisonment. Since this is true in the world’s sphere, how much more should we consider its importance within our local church?

God’s Word itself is the Authority to which every person is accountable. It gives us the blueprint for living in a way that pleases God. It is the ultimate textbook for His expectations for all of us—no one is exempt. We are all accountable to Him and to His Word. But He has given us an incredible support within the Body of Christ to help one another uphold His teachings and principles. I have found this support to be invaluable many times, even though it has also been humbling.

We live in a society that strongly opposes the idea of receiving helpful criticism. Our skin is thin and we bristle at receiving advice. We are prideful and do not often embrace the gift that it is when we receive constructive criticism from anyone, much less a well-intentioned fellow believer. This prideful attitude is sinful and stands in the way of our spiritual growth and development. In order to remain strong, dedicated to living out the truth of Scripture and charting a course that is pleasing to Christ, we must be open to receiving helpful, loving and gentle correction.

Note that the support we receive in holding one another accountable is to be gentle. People do not respond well to bullying, dictatorship, or harsh ways of giving correction. If we want to truly help out a brother or sister who may be stumbling, they must first know that we are approaching them out of love, care and concern. This will start long before an issue arises; these relationships are best formed on healthy soil. 

There must be leadership within each local church, and it is the responsibility of church leaders to be in tune with their flock and to personally know and visit with each member regularly. Leaders in our local church are there for our good, giving us a level of accountability. Another layer of accountability we enjoy is the relationships we’ve developed within our church families. In these friendships we can be honest and know we have the love and support—and sometimes correction—of those believers. 

In my own church family, I have a handful of people I would feel comfortable calling in the middle of the night, knowing they would come to my aid immediately. I have people I can call when I need advice, and I trust those people to advise me well. I also have had those who’ve had to gently share something with me that wasn’t my favorite news to hear, yet after careful consideration, I knew they spoke out of love and only wanted to see me prosper as a Christian, as a mom, as a wife or friend. We need to appreciate the concern another believer may have for us, and be willing to hear them out. 

Accountability within the church is a gift; it helps us stay on track in our Christian walk. While receiving correction may be uncomfortable for us, Scripture clearly lays out the responsibility we have to hold one another accountable. May we be willing to speak up when someone we love is straying from the path, and may we be willing to accept what others feel led to share with us. It’s for the purity of each local church that accountability is developed, embraced, and carried out in a loving manner.

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