This Sunday we entered into the second week of the series "The Salvation Army." This Sunday focused on the A in ARMY, which stands for accountability. Accountability in our training is the best way to maximize the effectiveness of the ARMY.
At the beginning of the service we watched a clip from the film Forrest Gump. The scene depicted the beauty of accountability. While Forrest and his fellow soldier and friend Bubba were at war, Forrest had to keep watch in the pouring rain at nighttime.
Bubba came to watch with Forrest that night, sitting next to him, back-to-back, saying, "I'm going to lean up against you, you just lean right back against me. This way, we don't have to sleep with our heads in the mud. You know why we are a good partnership, Forrest? Cause we be watching' out for one another. Like brothers and stuff."
The devil is at war for our soul. It is a 24/7 battle, one in which we cannot fight alone. We need people beside us to fight with us. Are we ready to come alongside our brothers and sisters in the Lord, prepared to fight?
It comes down to how we function as a Christians. Is church just a place to go on Sunday? Is it just a habit? If it is then we are not being useful to the body of Christ. A Christian's function is not just to attend Sunday meetings. We must pursue the Christian life actively. One of the first steps is to seek out Christians whom we can confide in, trust, and be challenged by.
We are part a body of believers not intended to walk through this Christian life alone. It is necessary to have an accountability partner, or partners to walk through this Christian journey with. Pastor Miles took the Rock church through five characteristics of an accountability partner.
Accountable to Respond
The first step of accountability is keeping one another accountable to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The ability to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit relies on the time spent together in the Word and prayer. However, we can hear the Lord speak, and choose not to respond. Therefore, we must encourage and challenge one another to obey and act when the Lord speaks.
Matthew 3:1-3 states, in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Luke 1:17 states, And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Malachi ends the Old Testament and the gospel of Matthew begins the New Testament. Between the two books was 400 years of silence. John heard and responded to the voice and leading of the Lord. He fulfilled His calling to prepare a way for the voice of the Lord, Jesus who was now to come.
Accountable to Represent
It is essential that we keep one another accountable to represent a lifestyle of discipline, unselfishness, and focus. We cannot accept a mediocre Christian life. We can't look back on our lives thinking, I wish I would have, or I should have We should seek together to participate in a life of fasting, service to others, and evangelism.
Matthew 3:4 states, John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
The significance of this verse is that in the garments he wore and the food he ate John's life reflected the spirit and qualifications he was to possess. Our lives should represent the disciplines of a Christian life. Accountability can promote such a lifestyle within us.
Accountable to Receive
As Christians it is vital to keep each other accountable to receive repentance with love and understanding.
Matthew 3:5-6 states, People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
We need to bear one another's burdens with love and compassion. Being accountable means being a listening ear, sharing struggles, and encouraging and helping one another. John the Baptist was there for the people who came to him from all over the Jerusalem and Judea.
Pastor Miles talked about a scene in the film We Were Soldiers, which recounts the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War. The scene depicted the wives of the soldiers back at home. They were a close-knit group of women all living on the same neighborhood street.
If their husbands were to die in the war they would be notified by a telegram. Once one of the wives caught on to this, she told the man who delivered the telegrams to come to her with them first, so then she could break the news to the wives. She wanted to be able to help them and bear the burden of grief with them, instead of them reading about their husband's death on a telegram given to them by a stranger.
Not only should we bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, but also those around us in need, some of whom may not know Jesus as their personal Savior.
We should make it a priority as well to be praying for those we know who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal savior, on a regular basis.
Accountable to Rebuke
The hard part of accountability is being able to keep one another accountable to bear fruit worthy of repentance. In that we must faithfully rebuke hypocrisy and sinfulness in each other's life.
Matthew 3:7-12 states, but when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, we have Abraham as our father. I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
When it is necessary, are we willing to confront sin with love and boldness? Are we willing to have someone be honest enough with us that we can be confronted as well?
Accountable to Respect
We must keep each other accountable to respect and honor the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Accountability isn't about just serving one another; it is ultimately about serving the Lord.
Matthew 3:13-17 states, Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me? Jesus replied, Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness. Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.
Jesus clearly saw the big picture. Everything was to be done in obedience to God and in honoring Him. Accountability is an essential element to a successful army. If we want to see our Christian life move to another level, we must take the important step of implementing accountability in our lives.
While we must submit to the total Lordship of Jesus in our lives, it is also vital to recognize that He gave us brothers and sisters to fight the battle with, so let's take advantage of what He has given us.
There may be someone in our mind at this very moment that we can form an accountability relationship with. Joining a small group is an excellent step towards accountability as it opens the door to a deeper intimacy with the Lord, and deeper intimacy with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.