In Wednesday’s post, I tackled why it’s okay to keep other Christians accountable when it comes to sin.
Since I said we should do it, I wanted to also share how to do it. The following verses explain how to effectively hold someone accountable.
Speak the Truth in Love
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Eph. 4:15–16).
Before I experienced someone lovingly calling out my own sin (read more about that here), my approach to accountability would not have been loving. Instead, it would have been rooted in superiority.
If you are close with someone who claims to be a Christian and you see them in open sin, ask yourself why you want to point it out to them. Is it to help them grow in their walk and keep them out of sin, or is it to make you feel superior because you think you’re better?
If love is not your motivator, you will fail and the Body of Christ will suffer.
Follow the Steps
Matthew 18:15–17 provides clear steps for accountability.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Here’s the breakdown:
Step 1: Start by telling the person with just the two of you there. In an attitude of love, explain what you see happening and ask if they see it, too.
Step 2: If they refuse to see, then ask a few people to join you who care for the person and have also seen the behavior. This way the person will know you’re not just making it up.
Step 3: Many times it will not get to the third step, which is to tell the church. If the person doesn’t listen after the first two steps, enlist the help of a pastor or youth pastor.
Step 4: If all of these measures fail, God allows us to no longer carry the burden of making the person see the truth. He can find another way to reach the person even if it isn’t through you.
As a final step, never stop praying that the person’s eyes will be opened even if they don’t listen to you. (For more on how to pray, check out this post from our archives, “How to Pray When Someone You Love is Stuck in Sin.”)
I am passionate about Christians keeping each other accountable, because it truly changed my life and I am forever grateful. Because someone else was brave enough to call out sin in my life, it has helped me to grow in my faith and approach people in a more loving way. I am more effective in ministry because of the gift of accountability, and I think we could be more effective as the Body of Christ if we were not afraid to hold one another accountable.
What are your thoughts on accountability?
Have you ever been called out and later realized it made you a better person?
Let us know below!