At the beginning of this month I signed up for a community group fitness class. Right after I did, I texted my sister-in-law and asked her if she wanted to join me on this fun crazy escapade. To my delight, she said yes, and we’ve both been faithfully showing up twice a week ever since. You see, I knew I had about a hundred percent better chance of not flaking out after the first or second class if I had the accountability of knowing someone else I knew would be there as well, expecting me to show up and endure the joys of working out alongside them.
In some ways our Christian walk isn’t that much different than the habits and behaviors in other aspects of our lives. I don’t know a single person above the age of 14 or so who isn’t busy, with a schedule full of responsibilities and a half dozen or more things to attend each week. In the whirlwind and busyness of daily life, it can be easy at times, without accountability, to allow our spiritual to-dos to fall through the cracks the same way we may taper off on a new exercise plan.
All of us benefit from accountability for our actions and having someone to gently help encourage us back on track when we slip up. Ecclesiastes tells us it is not good for someone to labor alone, a truth which can be applied to our walk with Christ.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
One of the benefits of camp is that during summer camp there is some built in accountability for campers and staff. Your friend will notice if you don’t pay attention during campfire, counselors ensure campers stay engaged during cabin devotions, and friendly competition encourages cabinmates to work on memorizing scripture together. Outside of camp, this isn’t always the case. Do you have people in your life right now who seek to encourage you and hold you accountable in the things of Christ in the same way?
Accountability isn’t just about knowing someone will be asking questions if you don’t show up at church this Sunday. Accountability in Christ is about believers in love reminding each other to continually strive to be more like Christ. When sin, either through action or inaction, keeps us from this goal, it is the responsibility of our fellow believers to hold us accountable to what we should be doing.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:1-2
If you don’t have fellow believers in your family, circle of friends, or church body who regularly hold you accountable to striving to be more like Christ, you need to seek them out. Every believer needs fellow believers to hold them accountable to faithfully attending church, reading and studying scripture, spending time in prayer, memorizing scripture (Matt Henderson had a great blog on the importance of memorizing scripture last week), and using their spiritual gifts to serve the Lord.
It can be awkward, and messy, and go against our American idea of “not needing any help,” but the truth is we all do need help and accountability to keep from straying in to sin. Pity, Ecclesiastes says, on the one who falls and has no one to help him up. Be willing to ask for help from your fellow believers and be willing to be that help for others. Even when it’s awkward. Even when it’s hard. Maybe even especially then.