If I were a perfectly honest person, the only accountability that I would need would be a checklist. Every day I could go to my checklist and mark down one more day of successfully kicking my bad habit or completing my good habit, and that would be that. Eventually, the behavior would be engrained in my psyche and the need for a checklist accountability partner would be gone.
Unfortunately though, that checklist would end up in a pile of junk mail on my counter while I continued on doing whatever the heck I wanted with my life. I am 100% likely to have all the good intentions and none of the follow through.
We can create a great environment for accountability, we can encourage people to share what they are dealing with and to commit to letting God transform their hearts and minds. But my accountability is really only as good as I am honest. It doesn’t matter how awesome the program is, or even how committed the other people are. In the end, I am responsible for my life and my habits.
And that, my friends, is what sucks about spiritual discipline.
Or, more accurately, what sucks about us. Jeremiah 17:9 says that our hearts are deceitful and wicked, and Galatians 5:17 says that the flesh and the Spirit are in direct conflict with each other. We know for sure that our desires are prone to lead us the wrong way.
So in order to really own your accountability, you need to know yourself. Write down what you struggle with and list out known weak areas. Do you always want to look at porn after a fight with your husband? Do you end up gossiping when you talk to certain friends? Are you more likely to overeat when the kids are napping? Identify your weak spots and write them down so you can clearly see the problems.
In Matthew 5, Jesus says that if your hand causes you to sin you should cut it off, because it is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. What I think he is saying in that passage, is that any extreme you need to go to is necessary if it keeps you from sin.
So look at those problem areas. Do you need to keep a food diary and have an accountability partner check it every week? Do you need to add a filtering program on your computer and phone? Do you need to tell those friends that you are committed to stop gossiping and you won’t be talking about other people with them anymore?
What is it going to take for you? Try to get out of the mindset that it would be a pain in the butt to change your habits, and attempt to come from the perspective of “what will really stop this for good?”
Accountability partners and groups can be awesome. But we all know how easy it is to paste on a smile and say, “Yeah, it is going great!” or even, “Well, I struggled this week but I’m getting back on track” when you know that you really have no intention of getting back on track.
It isn’t your accountability partner’s job or responsibility to keep you pure, it is yours. They are available and willing to support you and help you beat your sin nature, but the real choices and the work and the practical crappiness that we deal with on a regular basis is all us.
And you know, this is why we need the power of Jesus to transform our hearts. Because change is beyond us. We are weak willed and double minded. The sin nature and Holy Spirit are at war inside us, and we NEED a Savior. Thank heaven we have one!