Checking the mail rarely offers such a dramatic response as what occurred on a late afternoon in March. I noted in the stack of mail a letter from the Office of the District Attorney. Uncertain of its contents, I broke the seal and opened the notification.

The inebriated and reckless man who drove into my car, crushing it at a stoplight was formally sentenced.

I broke down as deep sobs wrecked my body. A year of treatments and healing had passed, but I was unaware of the tensions still held within my body. Tears released the stress and fear of being hurt again by this careless individual. The judge sentenced him; this driver was accountable for the selfish decisions he made on February 22, 2020.

Accountable – required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.

I do not know the condition of the driver’s soul; had he experienced remorse or godly sorrow for his decisions on that day? Nevertheless, he remained accountable for the damage and pain caused by his careless choices. Consequences remained to address the voluntary decisions he engaged. Accountability does not erase bad behavior and poor decision making, instead, it provides opportunity for preventing sinful behavior as well as reconciling wrongs done.

Do we live and make choices knowing that we are accountable not only to ourselves and others, but most importantly, to God? When decisions cause harm and hardship to others, God brings accountability. No one escapes the gaze of God (Hebrews 4:13). Similarly, when choices honor others offering life, hope, and encouragement, God supplies accountable commendation, blessing, and renewal to the God-glorifying soul. The apostle Paul addresses this in Galatians 6:7: “A man reaps what he sows.”

Much of Scripture addresses the nature of living accountable to God and man.

Jeremiah 17:10 – I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

While God’s forgiveness extends to each of us, He still allows us to experience the ramifications for our choices. I forgave the man for the damage and pain he caused through the accident but consequences remain. I still go bi-weekly for physical therapy and chiropractor care because of the damage done to my body over a year ago. Continuing to get help for my back does not represent an attitude of bitterness or unforgiveness towards the individual, but recognition of the ongoing consequences to the choices impacting me. Accountability gives the opportunity for the us to take responsibility. Admission through active culpability for actions and attitudes flows when we live an accountable life.

What does responsibility look like in your life? Who are you accountable to?

Just as God’s forgiveness is absolute, so too are natural results in God’s created order for harm and damage done. If I step on your toe and break it, even though you choose to forgive me, you still live with a broken toe until it heals. Forgiveness flows, repercussions exist. I am accountable for breaking your toe which might mean I pay the medical bills. I take responsibility. God’s plan involves answerability for our behaviors and beliefs and their impact upon others.          

2 Corinthians 5:10 states that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Hebrews 3:12-13 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Accountable – required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.

In what ways do you demonstrate responsibility for your behaviors? Do you deflect and deny wrong doing when damage has been inflicted to another by your choices? What boundaries can you set to live accountable to God and others?

Being accountable to God and others suggests protection and provision against selfish and ignorant conduct. Through required explanations for choices, whether good or bad, the possibility for confession and correction abounds. Living within our own echo chamber denies us the occasion for growth. When we only listen to our own voice, unfortunately we set ourselves up for deception (see Jeremiah 17:9). In the Bible, Matthew reminds us that “everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (verses 12:36-37). We must take responsibility for the words we speak and the actions we take.

If we avoid accountability we try to hide the true nature of our soul. We deceptively think our sin remains concealed, yet the truth is, God and others see. Don’t run from the responsibility for attitudes and actions of your own choosing. Accountability subjects oneself to the scrutiny of another for the sake of living a holy life. Choose holiness instead of hiddenness. There is freedom in being known.

How open are you to inviting others to address, question, and express concern about your behaviors and attitudes in the work place, home, marriage, friendships, and neighborhood? Can you believe it is for your own growth and good that others ask hard questions?

Paul reminds followers of Christ with this truth in Galatians 6:1: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Being accountable permits others to support us when we fail and struggle. God never intended us to live in isolation. We need each other. We are also reminded in this text to test our own actions so that we approach others in humility and grace. With this tender advance, repentance and renewal can commence. We extend the grace we ourselves receive from God to others as they heal and grow through the natural consequences of decisions they have made.

Let us run towards accountability. Welcome honest feedback, and allow God to speak through others as His chosen vessels. “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted…” (Proverbs 27:5-6). Sharpen one another by lovingly encouraging each other with open rebuke and trusted love while knowing that ultimately, we live accountable to God for our behavior and thoughts. The man who hit my car that day lives with both forgiveness and being accountable. I pray he lives restored to the One who gave His life for him. May we account to God with joy and freedom the lives we live.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Proverbs 12:15 –  The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Revelation 20:12 –  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

James T. Dyet, Joan Alexander. Accountable to God Living to Please Our Master (Life Design Adult Bible Study Book). Arlington Heights, IL. 2009.

A.W. Pink. Our Accountability To God.  Chicago, IL. 2009.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Bethel Music. God of Revival.

Bill Withers. Lean on Me.