by Dave Hintz
1. Not being faithful. So often, people ask us to keep them accountable and we do so for the first few days, and then it becomes an afterthought.When we do this, our Yes is no longer Yes (Matt. 5:37).Make sure that if you agree to keep someone accountable, schedule a regular appointment with them, or write yourself a reminder on your calendar to talk to your friend.
2. Forgetting that YOU are holding THEM accountable. When I have confronted people for sinning, they often lash back at me and try to shift the focus of our conversation from their sin to mine. While the wounds of a friend are faithful (Prov. 27:4), the loving thing to do in this case would be to tell them, “We will talk about myself and my shortcomings later, right now I am concerned about you and your sin. After all, you asked me to hold you accountable.”
3. Not asking specific questions: Human nature seeks to keep sin as secret as possible. Often the one being held accountable will generalize the sin to the point where it falls short of a lie, but does not offer full disclosure. Which sentence sounds more contrite? “Lord, forgive me for my sin” or “Lord, forgive me for talking disrespectfully to my parents, specifically when I told them to mind their own business in a sharp and angry tone.”
4. Waiting for them to come to you: When people sin they operate in the flesh, manifesting their old man, often hesitating to reveal their sins to others. In their quest to cover their sin with deception, they become idle and do not deal with this area of rebellion. Thus, we must take the initiative by approaching and warning them (1 Thess. 5:14).
5. Failure to be gracious: When people fail in the area of holiness, we must remember that God extends complete forgiveness to the contrite in spirit (Isa. 55:7). If the broken brother has repented, we must respond tenderly, extending grace. Harsh comments and “I told you so’s” do not encourage the faint-hearted (I Thess. 5:14).
6. Not allowing flexibility: Convictions are fluid. Paul makes it clear in Romans 14 that some sin by eating meat sacrificed to idols and others don’t. However, these camps are not static. Through much prayer and re-education people can change their convictions. One must be shrewd in this area, as many a couple has changed their convictions in the midst of much passion, rather than making a prayerful and informed decision.
7. Believing that you only have a right to hold those accountable who ask. When people ask to be held accountable, I do make a concerted effort to have regular accountability times. However, if I see a Christian brother or sister struggling with sin, it would be very much my place to ask them how they are doing. After all, God calls us to stimulate one another to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). When I was engaged to Becky, I had several people, from whom I did not solicit formal accountability, lovingly ask me some penetrating questions about our relationship. I praise the Lord that they cared enough to keep me accountable. Likewise, if you lovingly ask people about their walks, a true brother or sister will eventually appreciate it.