Links Daily Devotional

Truest Accountability

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us.” (Jeremiah 42:5, NIV)

Accountability is a sticky wicket. We want our freedom, of course, but we’re also aware in our bare souls that we need others to keep us walking the so-called straight and narrow.

But wait a minute. It’s not just a so-called straight and narrow. It was Jesus who gave us this expression, and he didn’t mean it as a gentle idiom. He told his listeners in the Sermon on the Mount, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus was warning the people: Choose the way that leads to life. No wonder we should want others to hold us accountable for such a choice!

You probably recognize the purpose of accountability. It keeps you moving in the right direction, with purpose and dedication. When you take a series of lessons from your local professional, the first thing they’ll ask when you come back next week is: “Did you get a chance to practice what we worked on last week?” It’s a critical question, because it’s not worth moving on to the next step when you haven’t made a habit of the last one!

In healthy accountability situations, where you ask a friend or group of friends to come alongside you in your spiritual development, similar critical questions apply: Have you applied what you’ve already learned? Have you done what you said you were going to do?

But here’s the rub. Accountability only works when we own up to it. We can keep sloughing off and apologizing. We can offer “reasons” that are really excuses for why we didn’t get it done. We can even lie and say we’ve done something we have not. Unless…

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet wrote of an exchange he had with a remnant of scrambling Israelites on the run from the arm of Babylon. “We want to know God’s direction,” they told him. Jeremiah agreed to consult the LORD on their behalf, but he also made clear that he would be telling them everything that God wanted of them. This was no flippant inquiry, and it begged an appropriately earnest response.

The people replied to Jeremiah rightly. God would be their judge.

This is the highest understanding of accountability. We may hem and haw with our friends, fibbing our way into next week. But when we recognize God as our accountability partner, when we know that while he is merciful he is also fully aware of what we pretend to be as well as what we really are, then we have called on him to be a “true and faithful witness against us.” In this light, there’s no other way to see our walk with Jesus than this: serious business.

Jeff Hopper
March 5, 2014
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