Monday, October 10, 2011

Accountability and Judging Others

I can be a very impatient person. Unfortunately my impatience can get me into trouble and this past week was a good example. I ended up doing something that I should not have done. When I mentioned what I had done, a friend of mine immediately busted me. It didn't take much. There is a saying that “a word to the wise is sufficient.” He merely reminded me that what I had done was wrong.

Admitting that I have done something wrong can sometimes be very difficult. And sometimes the hardest person to admit it to is myself. (It's my Superlative-Self at its worst.) In this instance a fellow Christian held me accountable and I think that as Christians we sometimes fall down in this area. Far too often we want to sugarcoat sin and wrong doing. We do this through not admitting that even the smallest little thing that seems fairly inconsequential is still a major thing in God’s eyes. We also do this by saying that “we are all sinners and we all do things wrong” in such a way that minimizes the impact of any individual sin.

In this instance the system of accountability that God wants us to exhibit worked well. Unfortunately I don’t always see this happening on a large enough scale. Part of becoming a Christian means that we are to obey all of Christ’s commands which includes submitting ourselves to correction by fellow Christians. Jesus warned us to “Judge not, that you be not judged” which really seems to tell us the opposite of holding one another accountable. If we are not to judge then how are we to hold one another accountable?

But this interpretation is taking Matthew 7:1 out of context. Reading the full context of Matthew 7:1-5, we see that what Christ is warning us against is hypocritical judgment. In this particular case it would be as if I were trying to hold someone accountable but not allowing that person to hold me accountable for the same exact behavior. Jesus gives us some guidelines in Matthew 18:15-17 on how to handle corrections within the church. My friend followed these guidelines and directly called me out. I immediately saw where I was wrong and I took steps to correct my behavior. It is how accountability is supposed to work. We shouldn’t just welcome someone holding us accountable, we should expect it.

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