Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9).
From a cold heart, sarcasm spews and chases away remorse. Cain’s sin echoes down the halls of humanity and continues to resound. We are more independent than before. We stand alone. We know alone. We judge alone. We are Cain reborn.
Americans have mastered the art of seclusion, and we’ve washed our hands of any responsibility for our brother’s good. And while this sin may stand on its own (pun intended), it was likely the by-product of another sin—namely, the rejection of accountability.
This independence is honored in our society. It comes in the name of tolerance and personal space. It’s common cry is, “Who are you to judge me?” It is our praiseworthy opponent to judgmentalism.
While the world applauds such individualism, God doesn’t. In fact, He designed us to be accountable to each other from the get-go (Gen. 3:8-19). God gave Samuel to Saul (1 Sam. 13:8-14) and Nathan to David (2 Sam. 12:1-14). Even Jesus participated in the accountability of Peter (Matt. 16:21-23).
Our responsibility for each other—particularly those in Christ who can say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness—is part of God’s design. We were made and commanded to be accountable.
“God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Cor. 12:24-26)
The Word of God, when coupled with the accountability of others, is an effective way to fight sin and gospel negligence. Here are five reasons why.
Accountability stacks the odds in your favor.
Sin—the residue of our former master—is a challenging foe and doesn’t die without a fight. We were born into sin and lived in it. But as believers in Christ, that part of us is dead, and we must fight to keep it buried. When someone else is holding you accountable to God’s Word, the odds are in your favor. It is no longer you against sin, but you—locking arms with others—against sin.
Accountability strengthens your will.
Someone said we should fortify our friends to mortify our sins. This is the act of holding each other accountable. There is something about having a crowd of faithful people with you. It gives you a special strength that could not exist with you alone. Our wills mysteriously draw power from those around us. It’s an energy infused by others to resist temptation.
Accountability lightens your burden.
While accountability allows us to draw strength from others, it also allows us to lighten our burdens as the weight is distributed. One man cannot lift a single car, but several men lifting at once can. When temptation weighs hard on our hearts to the extent that we are unable to withhold its pressure alone, others can help us by lifting it with us.
Accountability encourages godly stewardship.
There is a sense of responsibility that comes when we know that we are accountable to someone else. What we do we must tell. How we think and act must come to light through confession. Such a reality will cause us to better steward our time, talent, and treasure in order to be free from embarrassment.
Accountability unifies fellow believers.
Accountability requires us to connect with fellow believers at our deepest level. When we open our lives to others, deep sorrows and weaknesses are brought to the light. It is a vulnerable state whereby we entrust ourselves to others. Such trust and honesty joins our hearts together in Christ-like unity.
Rejecting accountability is rejecting a gracious gift from God we all need. Conviction is not enough. We must also have confrontation. Otherwise, we are trying to perfect by our own flesh what began by the Spirit (Gal. 3:3).