Why Accountability Matters
Want encouragement in your walk with God?
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
We call it accountability. Beginning in 2001 I had the privilege each and every Friday afternoon to meet with two women for mutual encouragement and prayer. We did this for several years and remain accountable to each other to this day. The reasons we started meeting were simple: we were young Christians wanting encouragement in our walk with God. We wanted to build a deeper, more meaningful friendship with a few women. And we were girls that loved any excuse to hang out and eat together.
It was a real friendship. The purpose of our meeting was simple but the benefits were endless and life-changing.
For Our Protection
We know that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). When I first became a Christian, I freely confessed my sin because I was acutely aware of God’s grace and forgiveness. I knew the depths of my heart and what it meant to be forgiven much. But then came knowledge, which, along with improving in godliness, can lead to pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). As I grew, I began to subtly believe I should “know better” than to sin — as if the temptation to anger or envy should no longer be a problem for me. Accountability was a good reminder that it was OK to be needy for God’s grace. It reminded me that I am a sinner and that, because of Jesus, God is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:8–10).
Consistent accountability has been an example of God’s protection in my life. To this day, though I’m further along in my relationship with God than I was a decade ago, I do not believe I’m incapable of grievous sin (1 Corinthians 10:12). I am a new creation, and I have the Spirit’s power, but it’s no longer a surprise that when I want to do good, evil is close at hand (Romans 7:21). Understanding that we are all batting on the same team (all have sinned) means we can freely share with these close, trusted friends. Accountability allows us to confess honestly to friends, and in so doing, we hold back from actually sinning.
Five Characteristics of Life-Giving Accountability
The point behind accountability isn’t just to share about sin and hear the hard words of rebuke. Though the wounds of a friend are a sign of their faithfulness, accountability should also be a time to build each other up and encourage each other toward God’s goodness and grace found in the cross of Christ. My friends and I reminded each other who we were in Christ: accepted completely, daughters of the Most High, and forgiven. We reminded each other that we knew Jesus, He was ours and we were His, and we could draw near to Him and His throne of grace. In my experience, there were five characteristics that make accountability particularly life-giving:
- We expressed a genuine love for one another because God had transformed our friendship into sisterhood. We were devoted to one another (John 15:17; Romans 12:10).
- Each week we had a choice to extend grace or judgment. We could display the love and grace that God had already extended through the judgment of Jesus on the cross (Romans 14:13).
- Each of us had an opportunity to be honest, which we may not have accomplished had we not established the habit (Ephesians 4:25).
- There were times we would need to extend forgiveness. Honest friendship sometimes leads to hurting one another. Also, as one person might go through a season of struggling with the same temptation, we’d learn to bear with our friend (Romans 12:16; Colossians 3:13).
- We bore each other’s burdens in prayer (Galatians 6:2).
More of Jesus
Ultimately accountability can be a means in which God draws us, through the friendship and fellowship of others, to Himself. Self-sufficiency says we don’t need anyone, but humility shouts for help from those God has placed in our lives. This habit of sharing and praying with others will inevitably teach us how to cast our cares on the only One who can fully bear their weight and who loves us with an unfailing love (1 Peter 5:7).
God graciously reminds us that apart from Him we can do nothing. And one great means of that reminder are the brothers and sisters He puts in our lives.
Used with permission by Global Media Outreach from Trilla Newbell. This article was first published at https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-accountability-matters. Trillia Newbell is the author of numerous books. You can find her at trillianewbell.com.
Pray this week:
Lord, will you please bring godly accountability partners into my life?
Do you need someone today who will lift you up in prayer? Send your prayer request today and a caring volunteer will pray for you.