18 We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches; 19 and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness, 20 taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; 21 for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
Accountability is a tough thing. Maybe it’s just for me, since I tend to have control issues and don’t like feeling that I have people overlooking my actions. But it is important to have accountability in whatever it is you do. From the normal worldview, we see it as necessary because it seems like less and less people can be trusted. I’ve also come to learn that a solid contract keeps friends honest. One of the notes in my bible suggests that the generous gift that Paul is talking about is money and this passage highlights the employment of an accountant to manage the money properly. While that makes sense and could very well be the initial intent of the author, let’s take a look at the spiritual side of things.
We are all individually responsible for our own spiritual growth. This responsibility carries the weight of doing what is necessary to grow. If any of you have been on a sports team, you have experienced the accountability you have towards each other. In the off-season you are motivating each other to get into the gym; the coach calls you up when you miss an afternoon practice. When I was training to go into the Marines, I had a running partner whom I was accountable to that would help motivate me not just start the run, but keep pushing forward during the run. Yet the running itself was still my responsibility. Our spiritual development is just the same.
I actually had a conversation last night with one of my spiritual accountability partners and I admitted that I was starting to get into the habit of just sliding by. I haven’t been proactive in my growth in my relationship with God and I finally realized it was starting to affect other aspects of my life. I’ve been tiring easily, I’ve been more stressed and grouchy, and I haven’t been feeling as connected to God as I am used to. I realized I haven’t been sharing my struggles with others as much as I should and that I haven’t been holding myself as accountable as I should.
Lack of accountability is what leads to the path of destruction. Our fallback phrase is always, “I’m only human. I’m not perfect.” Yet we are called to be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Yes, individually we are only one person but together we are accountable, responsible, and not easily swayed. Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. I always love putting this verse together with Matthew 18:20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. In the Ecclesiastes verse, the third strand is God in our presence. There are many times throughout the scriptures where it highlights the need to have others around us of the same faith in order to help us through our struggles. Our accountability to them and ultimately God is what keeps us standing when we are ready to fall over.
Additionally and increasingly important, our accountability enhances our witness to others. Just the mere fact of having some sort of accountability system set up gives a little more credibility to anything you are doing in the world. Because accountability forces honesty, it gives people a little less reason to doubt and it helps you make sure you are being honest! Our sinful nature is constantly battling us and it can be very easy to slip into habits of deceitfulness. My wife mentioned to me last night that when I was working my previous job I was never as eager to wake up as early as I do now. My response, “because I had no accountability.” Our lack of accountability makes it too easy to just slide by.
How are you making sure you are held accountable?