I get this question a lot, because I resist the use of the word ‘accountability’ to describe our relationships as brothers and sisters together:
I have been reading some of your books and listening to some of your CDs and they are really making a difference in my journey with God. Last night we had our new Assoc. Pastor, Scott, over for dinner and we got to talking and “accountability” came into the conversation. In fact, he evidently left his last church because they refused to deal with some people who were in obvious sin. I had heard you say in one of your teachings that you dislike the words accountability and commitment. That they are not used in the Bible. That is true, but what about passages like Matt 18 and Titus? Is that not accountability? Or, is that not what you are meaning when you use the word accountability?
Here’s how I responded: No, I don’t dislike the words, my point is that ‘commitment’ to an institution is not New Covenant language. My commitment to Sara, and my commitment to other brothers that I labor with in any given season are incredibly important to me.
My issue with accountability is that Scripture never uses that word in our relationships as brothers and sisters. We are all accountable to God. That is clear. We are called to love each other deeply, not hold each other accountable. That said, I don’t ever see love ever separated from truth. Matthew 18 and Titus (and many other passages) are simply about believers walking in love and truth with each other, not allowing blatant sin to become embedded in their midst. Love always speaks the truth and tries to rescue people caught in sin with gentleness. It does not delight in holding people accountable. So that kind of honesty for me is not accountability (which is an institutional word), but a relational reality of loving God and others with his life and truth.
Thanks for replying to this. It’s kind of sinking in. I realize my accountability to God is much higher than any accountability to other believers. So dealing with blatant sin is more on the level of pointing out truth in a loving manner and turning them to God for accountability. Is that close?
People who think they have to hold others accountable have misunderstood the passages on New Testament church life and do not know the power of love and honesty.
One final note: I just wish our sense of ‘blatant sin’ included religious arrogance, greed, and unloving actions toward broken lives, not just the sexual sins we’re so fond of despising and judging!