Accountability is a funny thing. When we become Christians we eventually come around to knowing that we need accountability. More often, however, we make it our priority to get really good at holding others accountable. We are very serious and committed to the accountability of others regarding their faith, their witness, and their obedience. From time to time our friends will come to us and return the favor and it is very difficult to accept. It is never easy to be on the receiving end of the accountability stick.
In all our efforts to ensure our loved ones (and acquaintances…and total strangers) are toeing the proverbial Christian line, I believe that we routinely miss the 2 most important Christ-like behaviors. In all our zeal and good intentions, there are 2 areas to which we never call others to account. I want to focus on these 2 traits that Christ exhibited that truly require our utmost attention in holding ourselves and others accountable. Bear with me as I put the microscope on each of us (author included) and shoot very close to home here. I expect this to sting a bit because it stung greatly as it was revealed to me. We are very quick to call others to account, but are we holding them accountable for what is really important?
**Disclaimer – this article is directed towards our efforts in the accountability of others and not targeting our personal convictions. Many may hold strong convictions in the areas listed below, which I do not intend to criticize in any way. My concern is strictly with what we are missing in our accountability. **
As we sit back and ponder the ways to which we can leave our mark on the accountability factor for all those we know, we must think of the most Christ-like traits…several come to mind immediately:
1. Accountability to how we dress and modest feminine clothing.
2. Accountability to what we watch on TV and the music we listen to.
3. Accountability to having a TV at all!
4. Accountability to what preachers we listen to…or who that preacher has associated with at one time.
5. Accountability to proper doctrine!
6. Accountability toward homeschooling, women in the workplace, who we vote for, holidays we do or don’t celebrate, how much we give and where we give.
7. You name it and we will keep you accountable to it!
We are so good at calling these out when we see it. Are we definitely getting towards Christ-likeness with these? Are these common topics bringing the beauty of Christ to mind? I must say, they do not. Do these things really jump out as the Christ-like traits? They do not. Are these the behaviors that really resemble Christ? Are these the behaviors that our sanctification is leading to? Sanctification is the process of squeezing us through the meat grinder so that when we come out the other side we look more like Christ. Is this what it looks like? I think not. Each of these may require accountability as will drugs, alcohol, sexual impurity, and lying. But we are still missing 2 huge ones that are vital to our witness.
So, what are we missing? We are so quick to hold others accountable, yet we miss these. I propose that the 2 traits most Christ-like requiring an increase in attention for accountability are:
1. Demonstrating humility.
2. Loving one another.
1. Humility: Was Christ humble? Yes – infinitely so! In Philippians 2:5-9 we see that Christ humbled Himself by leaving his glory in Heaven and emptying Himself to be in the form of a servant – a human. He had to be come nothing to be like us. He was humble to the point of obedience in death on the cross. Christ was infinitely humble. In Zechariah 9:9 it was prophesied that He was to come humble, on a donkey. He didn’t come like the king that He is, with an entourage, trumpets, majestic horses, and great fanfare. He came on a donkey, lowly and humble, a man of no reputation.This is a Christ-like trait that we should be demonstrating as Christians. We should be known as humble. Is that our reputation? Is this one of the things that people say of you?
Now, with focusing on humility, I don’t mean that we need to be humble when we come to hold others accountable on the laundry list above. I mean we need to HOLD others accountable to being humble! We need to come to our brothers and sisters and encourage them to be like Christ – lowly, humble, gentle, and kind in all things…even in our strong and bold defense of the gospel.
Paul, James, and Peter get in the act as well in 1 Corinthians 10:1, James 4:6-10, and 1 Peter 3:8, 5:5-6, where we are told to humble ourselves, be tenderhearted, like Christ who was meek and gentle. “A bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not extinguish.” (Isaiah 42:3)
Are we urging each other to be humble? Are we stirring each other up towards humility? Are we seeking a humble spirit? Christ was humble and we should be humble. We need help being humble since it is contrary to the sinful pride and arrogance buried deep in our hearts.
2. Love: Was Christ Loving? Yes, of course, infinitely so! This is a touchy subject, however, because talking about Christ and His love can quickly brand you as a liberal with no backbone. I address this below. One of our tenants is “I love you enough to tell you the truth.” This is admirable in many many cases and horrendously unloving in many others. Do we sense the balance and do we see the line enough to not cross over it like a bull in a china shop? The line – the distinction – is defined by trait number 1. If we approach others with humility and true love for that person then it will be profitable. If we approach them in pride and arrogance then we are just hiding behind the word LOVE while we feed the self-righteous monster inside us. Do we truly demonstrate the Christ-like love we are called to?
Again, I’m not speaking of holding others accountable to the laundry list above in a loving way, I’m talking about HOLDING others accountable to love one another. We must love one another as followers of Christ.
All the laws and commandments are boiled down to two: Love God will all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mat 22:34-40). The commandments come down to truly loving our neighbor. In John’s first epistle, he summarizes a long passage about love by stating that this is what we were commanded: “believe in the Lord Jesus and love one-another.” (1 John 3:22-24). We are commanded to love one another. Why is this overarching commandment the one least discussed? I suggest a reason below.
Are we seeking a spirit of love towards one another? Are we stepping out of our obsession with ourselves long enough to actually love one another? Are we calling each other to love? Are we holding each other accountable: a) in love, and b) to love? Are we placing love for one another as the primary commandment and law between mankind where it belongs? We should be. We need helping in loving one-another. We have to stop loving ourselves if we are to love one-another.
How dare you hold me accountable to that! Shouldn’t we be bold with the truth? Yes, if you can do it in a Christ-like manner with love and humility. Don’t we have a responsibility to call out the unrepentant sin, false doctrine, and immodesty? Yes, if we can do it in a Christ-like manner with love and humility. I can hear some shouting and the computer screen, “That’s weak! That is classic liberal, touchy feeling, God is love, ecumenical, mumbo jumbo!” Or, maybe you aren’t vocalizing it but if we are honest, those of us in the fundamental and reformed camp must admit that we cringe at the “God is love” crowd and the “peace and love” crowd. Isn’t this all for the hippy Jesus freaks and the ecumenical crowd? If we are honest, our impulse is to recoil from the suggestion that we must hold each other accountable to Humility and Love as the utmost importance.
But, let’s not recoil. Instead let’s make our greatest desire to be Christ-like. Let’s give into the sanctification process and let our attitudes be conformed into the image of Christ who was infinitely humble and infinitely loving. He commanded us to love. These concepts aren’t owned by the emergent church and Rob Bell. Love and humility is owned by Christ! He is the founder of such things. Take it back. Let us be known as those who are truly humble and truly love one-another…even our enemies and those who disagree with us.
If we want to be like Christ, we must humble ourselves in the form of a servant and to the point of death, while loving one another preemptively and sacrificially to the point of death.
We need to help each other in this.
Let’s together hold each other accountable to be more like Jesus.