Let's face it. We're not all that comfortable with accountability.
Still, being held accountable for good things can be powerfully helpful in each of our lives. Eleven years ago, David Weliver offered these 10 tips for personal management (2008 in www.moneyunder30.com):
- Create a personal mission statement. A completion to this sentence: "I will live …" (description)
- Set Micro-goals. Single actions that together express your mission statement.
- Use lists wisely - to prioritize the most important things each day
- Make yourself accountable - offer your list to a partner and give permission to ask you about your progress
- Reward yourself - create small rewards when you accomplish any micro-goal
- Do one task at a time - multi-tasking is not all it's cracked up to be
- Emphasize Your Strengths, Improve your Weaknesses - focus on what you do well.
- Value your time - each hour can be quite valuable
- Seek feedback - opinions from those whom you trust and will be frank with you
- Review yourself - each month, take an hour and see how many accomplished micro-goals have made you more the person of your mission statement.
WOULD THIS WORK IN MY WALK WITH CHRIST?
Can you suggest why these practical tips would not so work as you grow in Christ? For example, if your personal mission statement was, "I will live to deepen in my personal relationship with Jesus and spread His love to others," what "micro-goals" could you set that would move you toward becoming that kind of person? And what if you moved through the tips, and asked a trusted friend or two to "hold you accountable" and "provide feedback"?
There's every reason in the world to conclude that the Holy Spirit would flow through you wonderfully...with specific, spiritual planning like this, executed faithfully in His power.
THE LORD GOD and ACCOUNTABILITY
The Bible is very clear that God will hold all people accountable before Him on the "day" of final judgment.
- Psalm 10:13 (ESV) Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, "You will not call to account."?
- Matthew 12:37 (ESV) Jesus: "I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will given an account for every careless word they speak..."
- Romans 14:12 (ESV) So then each of us will give an account to God.
- 1 Peter 4:5 (ESV) [He] is ready to judge the living and the dead.
Clearly, we simply do not think regularly, nor soberly enough, about this. Forgetting or neglecting this "accountability" reality, we rationalize our sinning, engage in flippant speaking, waste time and resources, all the while believing that no actual accounting will ever happen. The truth is that it will. Our choices matter; they matter into eternity.
The Psalmist insightfully sang, "Teach us to number our days, that we might present to You a heart of wisdom."
CONDEMNATION? No! ACCOUNTABILITY? Indeed!
Interestingly, some Christians (i.e., those who have trusted Christ as Savior) seem surprised, if not stunned, at the idea that they too will have a "day of accountability."
- "What about God's mercy and grace?" they ask. "I thought Jesus' death in my place cast all my sins and failures off my record. For what am I going to be held accountable?"
How important it is to read Scripture with understanding and clarity.
On the one hand, it is true that the eternal death penalty for sin -- for both our sinful condition and our choices to sin -- that death penalty has been fully satisfied by the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches that God laid on Jesus my sin; when I believe God accounts to me Jesus' righteousness. What an exchange! Our eternal life and destiny is secured.
By faith in Christ, we will not be accountable for the death penalty our sins deserve.
On the other hand, Christians are called to follow Christ, become like him through depending on the Holy Spirit to live obediently. Our habits of sinning are to diminish; our habits of living rightly are to increase. And, because we are responsible for cooperating with the Holy Spirit toward that end, we will be held accountable to God for that willing, obedient cooperation.
Some future day, in the presence of Our Lord Jesus, we will give an account for our following, for our obeying, for "seeking first the kingdom of God," for "planting, and watering and building up" the body of Christ with quality material (1 Corinthians 3, with "gold, silver, precious stones" rather than "wood, hay, stubble").
- "Each one's work will become evident," Paul writes, "for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If anyone's work survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" [1 Corinthians 3:12-15].
- "For we (Christians) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done..." [2 Corinthians 5:10].
The New Testament echoes with the importance of our investment in gospel and kingdom work. The young Ephesian church [Ephesians 4:11-16] heard Paul underscore the critical importance of every Christian contributing, supplying, and building up the body of Jesus
CALLED TO LIVE FOR ETERNITY
The great Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed, "We have never truly breathed air nor seen light until we have breathed in the God-inspired Bible and see the world in the Bible's light."
The Bible's light to the world of men is compelling. Created in God's image, we are accountable for recognizing God's grace gifts toward us, responding thankfully, and living purposefully. All are called to believe in the Savior and walk with Him toward eternity.
The Bible's light to Jesus' disciples is even more compelling. Born into God's family, endowed with every spiritual blessing and provision (cf. Ephesians 1 and 2 Peter 1), we have the responsibility to live in ways that are eternally productive and rewardable.
What we who follow Jesus long to hear is this, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master."
Living in alignment with accountability is key. The Holy Spirit, producing the very life of Jesus in us, is the joyful opportunity.