The Value of Spiritual Accountability

JP: Interesting read that was posted on SharperIron

About the author: Joy Wagner taught classes and was the ladies’ dorm supervisor at Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, WI) for 10 years. She works as a counselor at Rocky Mountain Biblical Counseling Center.

Getting What You Inspect


You might have heard the old saying, “You don’t get what you expect; you get what you inspect.” That’s a simple way of describing the process of accountability—a brother or sister in Christ “inspecting” the life of another member of the body. The difference is that in spiritual accountability a truly concerned believer doesn’t just ask questions and then remain uninvolved in the changing process. Accountability leads into discipleship. The whole process is asking a friend the hard questions and then helping each other to walk in the victory Christ offers. In most areas of life, we are held accountable for our actions. Why, then, in our spiritual lives are we are often sadly lacking in our attempts to keep people accountable or even respond in humility to others’ questions of accountability?

Real, biblical accountability is beneficial for both the asker and the receiver. On the receiving end, it’s difficult to admit weakness, yet it is the first step in true change. None of us like the idea of someone asking about our progress in areas of struggle. It’s easier to just hide behind a mask of superficial spirituality. My friend calls it “living in the world of fine.” During fellowship time, someone asks between bites of spaghetti, “How are you?” Our answer is “fine.” After church, the pastor says, “How is your family?” Our answer is “fine.” Maybe a concerned friend actually asks, “How is your time in the Word?” Our answer is “fine.” Sometimes this has become simply a polite way to start or avoid small talk, but many times our vague answer is an attempt to cover up a real struggle in our spiritual walk. Why do we so often avoid transparent communication about our own spiritual weakness? I can answer that in one word. Pride. Our pride holds us back from letting people into the broken pieces of our lives and helping us to look to Christ to restore that which was shattered.

Several times in the Gospels, Christ confronts His disciples about a particular area of weakness. Their reactions to His incriminating statements paint a picture of the depth of their character at that point. Look, for example, in Matthew 16:20-23 where Christ holds Peter accountable for his hasty words. Peter’s argumentative reaction reveals his pride. Contrast Peter’s reaction with the well-known question after the resurrection. “Do you love me” (John 21:15-17). On this occasion, Peter walked in humility and didn’t try to refute the all-knowing, all-loving question of his best Friend. He takes the position of a learner, and his reaction was the beginning of God’s using him mightily in the early church.