Have you ever had a person notice that you were sinning and then call you out on it? How did you feel? Embarrassed? Angry? Grateful?
I became a Christian at a young age and have lived a faithful Christian life. Somewhere along the way, I began to think that I was better than other Christians because “my sin wasn’t as bad as their sin.” That’s a prideful and self-deceiving attitude, but I acquired it nonetheless.
Then in my senior year of college, I had an experience that forever changed me. I was in the car with a guy friend and saw a girl who I absolutely could not stand. I looked at my friend and said, “Do you see that girl right there? She is terrible . . . ” and I went on to list every negative thing I knew about her.
While I sat there feeling good about my superiority, he looked at me and said, “Sarah, why do you think you’re better than her? You don’t know what she’s been through in her life that makes her the way she is. We are all sinners, and Jesus died for her. You sin, too, and Jesus loves that girl just as much as He loves you.”
I wanted to fire back with some witty retort, but I couldn’t. He was right.
I was just as guilty.
Just as sinful.
Just as in need of a Savior.
My stomach still churns when I think about that moment.
Rethinking the Speck
I’ve noticed that even in our Christian culture, it often seems taboo to keep each other accountable for our sin. When I talk about this topic, I am usually met with the following verses from Matthew 7:3–5:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
I’ve noticed that people usually stop at the phrase “do not judge” and don’t even consider all the truth that follows afterward. If they do make it past this part, I often hear the “plank” defense. If we are walking around with proverbial planks in our eyes we will never be able to help one another.
This just isn’t true. If you read the last verse, it clearly indicates that after we have our plank removed, just like I did in college, that then we can effectively remove the speck from the eye of our brother or sister. My friend was able to successfully remove the plank from my eye that I didn’t even know was there. I am eternally grateful he took biblical accountability seriously.
Two Reasons for Accountability
Here are two reasons we need to keep each other accountable.
1. Avoiding sin.
Sin is serious! It separates us from God and wreaks havoc on our human relationships.
In Matthew 5:29–30, Jesus says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
There is no room for misinterpretation here: All sin is serious.
If we see a Christian who has sin in her life and seems unaware, as a fellow Christian we need to say something. (I’ll break down how to do this in Friday’s post.)
2. Growing in godliness.
God gave Christians each other to help us in our walk, just as my guy friend helped me. A second reason to hold each other accountable is so we can grow in knowledge and strengthen each other’s walk with the Lord.
Ephesians 4:14–16 sums this up when it states:
So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 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.
When we call each other out in love and accept it willingly, it helps us grow or “mature” in our walk with Christ. We get to become more like Jesus.
Keeping one another accountable is healthy and not a battle for spiritual superiority; it’s a way to love each other well by helping each other live like God asks us to. There is a correct and biblical way to do this. We’ll talk more about that on Friday.
Have you ever been held accountable for a sin in your life? How did you respond? Let us know below!