by Samuel Parrish, Campus Director, LHM Charleston, SC
“And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13
Ugh. Another 2 hours I have to cut out of my already busy week to sit and listen to people I don’t really like talk about how they can’t seem to get their life together.
If you’ve attended a Sunday school class or a small/life/family/cluster/recovery group in the last five years, you’ve probably thought the same thing every once and awhile.
Long periods of awkward silence that give way to prayer requests for that one guy’s aunt’s neighbor’s cat who was stuck in a tree can wear down on even the most committed believer.
Sadly, if that’s as deep as we ever go, or we give it up entirely as a waste of time, we will miss something that both Jesus and the authors of the New Testament saw as essential for the Christian life.
In the Gospels, Jesus told quite a few parables involving agriculture. Sometimes the focus was on the seed or the fruit. In others, he emphasized the factors beyond the farmer’s control like weather, weeds, and soil. Many though highlighted the relationship between the owner of an estate and his workers. Whether his sons, or hired labor, the workers would receive a task from the landowner, and a time period to get the work done. This would be followed by a moment of reckoning, where the workers would give an account for the work they had done. This was completely appropriate and expected. The owner had given them his resources to steward to his advantage and promised reward if they worked diligently.
We seem to understand this principle well when our paycheck is a few hours late on the direct deposit, but totally disconnect it from how we spend our Saturday afternoons.
Of course, I work hard 9-5. That’s my company’s time.
The weekends, though, are mine.
Psalm 24 doesn’t mince words:
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein.”
Not only does God own time, he owns us and the world as well. So when the writer of Hebrews says that we are exposed before God and will give an account for our lives, what is that truth supposed to do in us? Is it a God-sized scare tactic? Maybe a promise of wealth if we work really hard?
Accountability reminds us that we are under authority. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, reminded them that they were not their own; they were bought with a price. In accepting Christ as Lord, we are giving up the right to self-identify. In Christ, we are a new creation. In Christ, the old is gone and the new has come. In Christ, we have an inheritance. None of those things are true unless we are in Christ. Being in Christ overwrites any false identity the world, the enemy or our fallen selves might have named us.
Accountability reminds us that we are stewards, and not owners. Time, money, and relationships: they all belong to him. This doesn’t mean however, that will be fighting over crumbs. By his grace, we have been lavished with good gifts that are to be used to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1). Paul tells Timothy that God has provided everything for us to enjoy. Stewardship is not drudgery. It’s a call to do and use every resource available to make Christ great among the nations.
Accountability reminds us that obedience is rewarded and wickedness is judged.
God is not like one of my elementary school teachers. On the first day of school, she taught us this elaborate system of conduct, various tiers of rewards and punishments meant to keep us in line. It didn’t take long to realize that she not only didn’t enforce the boundaries, she didn’t reward compliance either.
While it might seem scary to think that we will answer for every action, word and thought, we have a great hope in Christ. He died and rose so that we would not stand condemned on the day we give account, justified by his blood and adopted as His son/daughter!
So accountability this side of eternity helps us remember. And when we remember, we should worship. Our actions no long stand as a record against us! By his death, that record is nailed to the cross, and we are free to live a life of obedience by his ever-present grace.