The Ice-Cold Truth

by Robert Jacobs

Until I get about half way through my first cup of coffee in the morning, my brain is completely incapable of communicating or interpreting anything in a coherent manner. Knowing this limitation, I normally put off reading my Bible until I can clear the cobwebs out of my mind with the help of my morning pour-over. Until then, I typically flip through my Facebook feed, making myself feel connected to hundreds of “friends” that, in reality, I have not talked to in years.

But this devotional is not about social media usage (though I should probably think about that as a topic for the future). Rather, it is about something I saw one morning during my zombie-like scroll session. Amongst the pictures of babies covered in spaghetti and grumpy cat memes, I saw a link that a friend had posted to a T-Shirt that read, “I [heart] accountability.”

It immediately gave me pause. Do I love accountability? I mean, I know that it’s biblical. I know that it’s an important spiritual discipline. But do I love it?

Activating the English PhD side of my brain—the coffee was obviously doing its job—I realized that it all depended on how I defined the word love. I “love” Ricky’s chocolate cakes because they bring me great joy and taste like a little slice of heaven. However, I also “love” my wife, who despite being like a little slice of heaven the majority of the time still lives in her flesh just as I do.

I decided that to truly evaluate if I “loved” accountability, I would have to define love as describing something that brought me immeasurable good, but did not necessarily engender happiness 100% of the time. Within these denotative confines, I did indeed “love” accountability.

The problem is that most people do not define love the way that I just did. Instead, most equate the terms love and happiness. Thus, one would only “love” something if it consistently made you happy. If you have ever had true, biblical accountability, you will know that it is not always a bed of roses.

Accountability should always be about calling you up to who God intended you to be, to remind you of the life God has called you to live. Sometimes this feels good, a kind of warm affirmation of your divine mission. Other times, it feels like an ice-cold bucket of water, shocking you as you realize that you have strayed from what God intends for your life.

Because we fear and dislike that ice water bath of truth, we will often spurn any and all attempts to hold us accountable. In Proverbs 5, Solomon describes the regret associated with dismissing the loving words of correction often associated with accountability:

At the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.” (Prov 5:11-13)

As we ponder accountability, we need to ask ourselves some very important questions:

  • Do we, like Solomon’s foolish man, despise the loving correction that often comes with biblical accountability or do we embrace it, knowing it will bring us immeasurable good though not always happiness?
  • Are we willing for our godly mentors to call us up to who God created us to be, to be holy as Christ is holy (1 Pet 1:16)?
  • Do we become angary and defensive when someone attempts to hold us accountable or do we accept their loving and truth filled comments, reflecting on our heart and choices?

Though it can be hard, we must learn to engage in biblical accountability, knowing that if we experience discomfort, it is for the purpose of making us more like Christ. If we reject the truth spoken through our mentors, we will find that at the end of our life we will be full of regret, just like Solomon’s foolish man.