Are you accountable?
God has a desire for us as followers of Christ to be accountable in the way we live out our Christian lives as well as accountable to each other as we watch each other’s backs and stir one another to love and good works.
Philippians 2:19-21. I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Timothy took a genuine interest in the welfare of his brothers and sisters in Philippi. He was not interested in looking out for himself but more so the interests of others in relation to their walk with Christ.
Let’s couple this with Ephesians 4:25 – “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
These verses tell us to be there for each other in times when our faith is challenged, either from outside by those who are yet to know Jesus or from inside when the temptations of the world surround us and suck us in. To be open and honest with each other when we see each other falling away, drifting away, forsaking our faith.
Christ also calls us to be accountable in our own lives, and everything that we do in our lives will eventually have to be accounted for. There is nothing that we can hide from God. Consider the following:
Hebrews 4:12-13. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
I tell you what, this stirred in me, fired me up and got me thinking. It made me ask the question, are we just going through the motions. We come here every Thursday, have some fun, listen to a lesson or debate an issue, often with our own agenda and not Gods and then we leave and our life does not change, we have not grown. Why, maybe because we are not as serious about our faith as we should be, maybe we have become complacent, even rebellious toward God and His ways.
Tonight I have a survey for you, this is an evaluation survey for your eyes only. This is designed for you to take a look at your faith and your life and enable you to evaluate where you are at and whether or not God is really all to you that you say He is.
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Most of you here are professing Christians, at one time in your life you committed to Christ and still profess that as the desire of your heart but your lives do not display this.
To the church of Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2 Christ said this “I have this against you. You have forsaken your first love.”
That first love they had forsaken was a love for one another and a love for Christ. This church had a good testimony, they had done the things God had asked of them, they had followed Christ and persevered in the face of temptation and hardship but they had fallen away. They had ceased to hold each other accountable to the things that they professed to believe and they had forgotten all the Christ had done and instead embraced worldly thinking.
Christ implored them, remember, remember me, remember what I have done. Remember what you first knew, how much you loved Christ and what it meant to you that He had given His life for you.
Why do we forget, why do we turn from Christ and offer ourselves to the world? Because we forget. But God never forgets, He hasn’t forgotten the first day you raised up your hands to Him and said “ God forgive me for I am a sinner in need of your grace, He hasn’t forgotten the tears that rolled down your face when you first actually realized how much He loves you, He hasn’t forgotten how you gave your life to Him and said “ I am yours my wonderful Savior, mold me, shape me, use me. Do you remember that time? Oh wasn’t it so wonderful being so close to God, so wrapped up in the arms of your creator and redeemer.
Is this you today, have you forsaken your first love? Have you forgotten why you first decided that Christ is exactly who He says He is.
Close your eyes.
You’re a Jewish person living in the first century. You’re out walking one day enjoying the sunshine and the sound of the birds singing on the soft breeze, you feel relaxed, very at ease. As you stroll along you see a hill in the distance, you’re walking toward it. As you get closer you can see a faint outline on the hill, something protruding, it’s hard to see, a bit blurry, and you strain to see as the sun shines its blinding rays into your eyes. As you draw nearer you hear a commotion, the sound of voices, some crying, even wailing, others cheering in obvious joy.
Closer still, you can now make out the outline on the hill, it’s a timber cross casting an impressive shadow over the hill as the sun moves across the afternoon sky. You had seen this before, you knew what this meant, someone was going to die today. It was not going to be pleasant, in fact a coldness runs down your spine like icy fingers and you shudder as you remember the agony of such a death. You stop, dead in your tracks, not wanting to go any further yet something seems to be drawing you toward this cross and toward the one who occupies it.
Closer still, now you see the man, fastened to the cross, closer still, the nails, you see the nails, more like spikes, driven through his hands and feet. You slowly look up, you see his face, distorted with pain, yet somehow strangely at ease with the destiny that had befallen him. You stare at his face and you suddenly remember, I know this man, I have met him before, he was a preacher and his message was one of love and forgiveness. That’s right he claimed to be the son of God and the only way to Heaven. You thought that was quite strange then but even stranger now as he hung from a cross, a far cry from the Savior of the world.
You think to yourself “why is this man hanging here, he has done no wrong” yet hang on the cross he does, only hours from death.
As you stare, His lips begin to move, you expect to hear a cry of pain or a cursing for those who have nailed him to this hideous cross but instead what you hear amazes you. “Forgive them father for they know not what they do”
These words ring in your ears “forgive them, forgive them” You think to yourself “Who is this man that he forgives those who have caused him so much pain”
You continue to stare up at his face, waiting to see if he will speak again, watching his chest as it slowly heaves up and down in heavy laboring breaths. Then suddenly he speaks “It is finished” and his chest heaves one last time, his heads bows and he is gone.
What is finished you scream inside. Tell me “What is finished” Then without warning the sky turns dark in the middle of the day. The sun hides its face as darkness descends over the hill and the shadow that the cross had once thrown disappears into the hillside.
Then it hits you, the truth of this man’s life and all that he had taught. You begin to understand and you finally realize what had drawn you to this place on this day. You fall to your knees, your heart pounding, as you confess “Surely this man is the Son of God”
Open your eyes. Do you still believe this? Do you still believe that Jesus death was what brought you into a relationship with God Is this still of utmost importance to you?
Today is the day to return to your first love. Today is the day to recommit your life to the one who gave his for you. If you’re struggling today and God seems distant, remember back to the time when you first realized his love for you and recommit your life to him.
Additional Verse and Application
6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back,
20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
Ask: What do you think James 5:19-20 is saying?
Say: Accountability will only work on a two way street. Someone must have the heart to really be held accountable to living a godly life, and someone must be willing to keep that person accountable and have the permission and then the courage to ask the hard questions.
At this point you have the freedom to decide what is the most effective way for your group to be held accountable. You can have someone choose someone else to keep them accountable. You can pair people up or, if your group is small enough, you might keep them accountable. Below is just one of several ideas you can explore.
Do: Pass out a blank card or piece of paper to everyone (or have people come up to you at the end of the meeting).
Say: “If you would like someone to help keep you accountable to any area of your life and/or you would be willing to help keep others accountable, indicate that on the piece of paper. Remember, accountability is strictly confidential.”
Do: Ask God for wisdom to pair people up or put people into groups to keep each other accountable. There is no pressure, not everyone will want to be held accountable. You might to call people on the phone afterwards to help keep things confidential.