Accountability Of A Christian

Accountability is a quality that elevates the humans from the floors of the animal kingdom. Accountability comes alongside responsibility. The very fact that men and women were created in the image of God and for a specific purpose makes them responsible. Though many a Christian would love to see this word erased from the vocabulary itself, accountability is something that no human can evade.

Accountability is not ‘the ability to make up accounts’. It is defined as “total responsibility for whatever one does”, being ready to present a detailed account when called upon. In biblical terms it is being answerable to our Maker for our thoughts, attitudes, words and deeds. In other words, accountability is being responsible for ‘who’ we are and ‘what’ we do.

Universal Implication

The Bible teaches that the entire human race is accountable to God without any excuse, first of all for what they have done with God’s laws and standards, which were revealed to them from time to time (Rom. 1:18-21; 3:19), and secondly, for the way they handled their God-given responsibilities. Hence, our accountability is basically unidirectional – towards God our Creator. It includes all our responsibilities – towards fellow humans and towards the rest of God’s creation, towards individuals, social structures, governments and authorities, superior or inferior. Right from Cain’s time, people, to escape from their accountability, are raising the question “Am I my brother’s keeper”, because they know that God holds them responsible. (Genesis 4:9) But today, people have adopted to be their brothers’ keepers but not their own. While living ungodly lives they try to lead others. Leaving the log in their own eyes they try to help remove the specks from their brothers’ eyes. But this work of charity will not excuse anyone from his ultimate accountability. Instead of being righteous and just they are only trying to justify themselves.

Motivating Factors

Love for God and the fear of God are the two key factors that motivate people to be accountable. Another reason can be the fear of human authorities or governments. A Christian should be motivated by the love of Christ to lead a life of integrity and absolute accountability.

One of the repercussions of our accountability is that it is escorting us to rewards and retribution. Faithfulness towards responsibilities will lead to the crown of honour and negligence towards accountability to rebuke and humiliation. This is also a motivating factor for those who are not otherwise motivated.

Frighteningly, accountability is squarely proportionate to our given responsibility and a Christian’s accountability is multiplied in the light of what God has invested in him. The Bible says: much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater. (Luke 12:48 Living Bible) The whole world will be judged for what they did with the Lord Jesus Christ, while every Christian will be held accountable for what he did with himself as a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. For a Christian the judgment of sin is over at the cross (Romans 8:1), but a strict evaluation of his Christian life against God’s standards is awaiting him. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit, however, spiritual maturity of a Christian is the result of willful obedience and moment-by-moment submission of the individual. In other words, every child of God is responsible for his/her spiritual maturity or accountable for the lack of it. The Bible speaks resolutely about the Christian’s accountability, both individual and corporate.

We are not our own bosses to live or die as we ourselves might choose. Living or dying we follow the Lord. Either way we are his. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose, so that he can be our Lord both while we live and when we die. You have no right to criticize your brother or look down on him. Remember, each of us will stand personally before the Judgment Seat of God. For it is written, “As I live,” says the Lord, “every knee shall bow to me and every tongue confess to God.” Yes, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:7-12 Living Bible)

As Christians, our words, our works, our walk, our handling of God-given resources, and our very being has to be the reflection of God’s glorious standard of holiness. We are accountable for both commission and omission. Let us take a look at some of these areas of Christian accountability.

WORD

The words we utter should bring blessing to others and glory to God. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29; see Colossians 4:6 also) Conversations of the ungodly are filled with lies, enticements, deception, blasphemies and cursing. Lies intended for good purposes and lies that are harmless are still lies. Half-truths and exaggerated reports to impress donors are also lies. Not keeping promises and not standing by whatever we have said are also lies. Flattering superiors to get favours too is nothing but lying. The habit of swearing in order to make one’s words reliable is also against the biblical teaching. (Matthew 5:33-37) A Christian’s words should be worth its meaning. Anything less than that is lying.

My friends, we should not all try to become teachers. In fact, teachers will be judged more strictly than others. All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body… Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things. The tongue is like a spark. It is an evil power that dirties the rest of the body and sets a person’s entire life on fire with flames that come from hell itself. (James 3:1-6)

Jesus warns us in Matthew12:36-37, I promise you that on the day of judgment, everyone will have to account for every careless word they have spoken. On that day they will be told that they are either innocent or guilty because of the things they have said. God told prophet Ezekiel that he would be held accountable for the people of Israel if he doesn’t warn them about their sins. (Ezekiel 3:17-21) Today’s shepherds are scared of the sheep and pretend to be blind to the wickedness within the fold. They know they are inviting God’s judgment upon themselves by not saying what God wants them to say.

WORK

This is an age of counterfeits. Bible had foretold about the ‘wolves in sheepskin’ and satan presenting himself as the ‘angel of light’. People are confused and carried away by these look alikes. Fear of God has taken a back seat in Christendom and the church and missions have become the best means of gaining fame and fortune. They think that serving God is a way to get rich. (1Timothy 6:3-5 NCV) However, God’s Word has warned us about the deterioration in the churches and missions.

You can be certain that in the last days there will be some very hard times. People will love only themselves and money. They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, and disobedient to their parents. They will also be ungrateful, godless, heartless, and hateful. Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity. These people will hate everything that is good. They will be sneaky, reckless, and puffed up with pride. Instead of loving God, they will love pleasure. Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real. Don’t have anything to do with such people. (2Timothy 3:1-5)

Somebody commented, “Politicians are like bananas. Some are green, some are ripe but not one in the bunch is straight.” This may be more apt a description of today’s Christian leaders. Observing some of these great ‘men of god’ one will almost be convinced that satan also can preach the gospel and do it more attractively than most of us. But he being a ‘liar’ and ‘the father of lies’ denies its power by his own life.

If servants are not ready or willing to do what their master wants them to do, they will be beaten hard. But servants who don’t know what their master wants them to do will not be beaten so hard for doing wrong. If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better. (Luke 12:47,48)

God is not as much interested in fulltime Christian workers as He is in full time Christians. The best Christian ministry is being a true Christian. The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.” (Micah 6:8)

WALK

Strictly speaking, we are accountable for every single instruction in the Bible. We will have to account for what we did with the Word of God – how much of it we believed and practiced. Christian activities and prayer meetings are becoming symbols of piety and source of mere emotional satisfaction. Some use this as business platforms to build contacts, rather than seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness. God looks at the heart and judges our motives. (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:7,8; Mark 7:7) Our hypocrisy will be revealed on that day. Our sin will find us out. (Numbers 32:23)

Walk represents our total life. Christians are called to walk in light as children of light (Ephesians 5:8), walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4), walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), walk worthy of the call (Ephesians 4:1), walk in love (Ephesians 5:2) and so on. We are also placed as salt and light to the world. Like Paul we should have the audacity to say, “imitate me” (1Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; 2Thessalonians 3:7,9). We are either models or stumbling blocks for others in their growth towards Christ. It will be terrible for people who cause even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their necks. (Mark 9:42)

We are admonished not to walk after the flesh but to allow the Holy Spirit to make our lives fruitful. (Galatians 5:19-23) We are accountable for our fruitlessness (John 15:4-8,16) and no Christian will be able to explain away his spiritual barrenness. These are evil times, so make every minute count. Don’t be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t destroy yourself by getting drunk, but let the Spirit fill your life. (Ephesians 5:16-18) Walking with God is the only way to make the most of our time for eternity. The natural outcome of such a life will be a powerful reflection of the glory of God, like the glow on Moses’ face (Exodus 34:29-35) or the witness of the widow about Elijah. (1Kings 17:24)

WEALTH

As we continue to receive material blessings we tend to forget that God is the owner of everything, both the possessions that we earned through hard work as well as the resources and opportunities left at our disposal, and we are just caretakers. We are accountable for all the resources including our own body.

Don’t you know that your bodies are part of the body of Christ? Is it right for me to join part of the body of Christ to a prostitute? No, it isn’t! Don’t you know that a man who does that becomes part of her body? The Scriptures say, “The two of them will be like one person.” But anyone who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit with him. Don’t be immoral in matters of sex. That is a sin against your own body in a way that no other sin is. You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. (1Corinthians 6:15-19; See also 2Corinthians 6:16)

All of you surely know that you are God’s temple and that his Spirit lives in you. Together you are God’s holy temple, and God will destroy anyone who destroys his temple. (1Corinthians 3:16,17)

Our own lives and that of our family members should be a testimony to the message we are proclaiming. If you are called to be a leader of God’s people, rate your own life against the standards of God’s Word, particularly 1Timothy 3:1-10. Our accountability thus spans from our own life to our family to our personal money to our official funds to all opportunities that we are faced with. We strategically plan our giving. We give ‘cheerfully’ if it is in front of a camera or if our names are flashed around. We give large amounts if we can have a say in the matters of the institution. We boast about the sacrifices we made for the Lord’s sake though the perquisites we are receiving from the Christian circles are far better than what the secular world would have given us. Some of us have the ‘give it, forget it’ attitude. We don’t take pains to know whether it is put to the proper use or not. We are satisfied because we did our part and it is the recipient’s responsibility to see how it is accounted for. Giving to a cause cannot be estranged from being a part of the whole operation. There are enough examples in the Bible to illustrate our accountability as God’s stewards. The parable to the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 points out that non use of God-given resources will also invite His displeasure. Luke 12:42-48 describes the plight of the servant who abuses his God-given power and authority. James writes: If you don’t do what you know is right, you have sinned. (James 4:17)

God will hold each of us accountable for every chance given to us to do what was pleasing to Him and we didn’t, every opportunity to reflect God’s holy nature but we compromised, every occasion where we should have lifted Jesus up but elevated ourselves, every message we preached to others and never applied in our own lives, every committee we sat in and never bothered to look beyond the reports, every program we planned in the name of the ministry but with personal motives, God will judge it all.

Apostle Paul warns us: And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do. (Romans 14:12) After all, Christ will judge each of us for the good or the bad that we do while living in these bodies. (2Corinthians 5:10)

The Bible tells us in 1Corinthians 3:5-15 that servants who labour should not be the focus, rather God who brings life and growth. Servants will receive their pay according to their productivity. So we are warned to be careful about our work, the materials that we use and the sincerity we employ. Because, there will be a ‘fire test’ on the last day during which the wheat and the chaff will be revealed. Whatever is eternally valuable will be rewarded and the rest will cause embarrassment. So, let us wake up to our accountability and make up our minds to build for eternity.

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