Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

A Sobering Truth

January 28th, 2015

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12 NIV.

Never exchange the permanence of eternity for the transience of a lifetime.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a sobering truth.”

There are times when life finds you unprepared. Sometimes you don’t know how or when to be prepared. Sometimes you know when you should, but just fail to prepare. The latter can result in lost opportunities, rude awakenings, or maybe costly oversights.

In college, I learned a valuable lesson about being prepared and personal accountability. After consecutive absences, I deigned to attend class only to discover that a major exam impacting my semester grade would occur that morning. My negligence and too frequent absences had left me unaware and unprepared. In spite of my surprising performance on the exam, my semester grade was reduced to “Incomplete” because of excessive absences. My professor held me accountable for my choices and decisions, in spite of my sincere pleading and abject apology.

There is accountability in life. Every choice has consequence – for benefit or loss. Reproof is a fact of life and faith. “There will be trouble and distress for every person who does evil . . but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good.” Read Romans 2:6-11 NIV. See Galatians 6:7-10. Jesus said, “Whatever is covered up will be uncovered . . whatever you have whispered in private will be shouted from the housetops.” Matthew 10:2-3 TEV.

There will be accountability in eternity. Daniel Webster, a respected Senator of the early 19th century, was asked, “What is the most sobering thought a man could have?” Mr. Webster answered, “His accountability to God.” Reflect on his answer for a moment. Paul cautioned the Christians in the Imperial capital of the Roman Empire, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10 NKJV/12 NIV. On that day, no exception will be granted, no extension given, no excuse accepted.

BOOKMy friend, Rick, wrote a significant book I recommend to you, The Judgment Seat of Christ, which has impacted my life. The Bible says, “If any man builds on this foundation [of Jesus Christ] using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss.” 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NIV.

There is a day of ultimate accountability when your values, choices, and expenditures of time, talents, and treasures will be assessed by God. Your lifetime will be evaluated according to your eternal investment to the purposes of the Kingdom of God, in your life and the lives of others. What is noble and sacrificial will eternally endure; what is incidental and of self-interest will be consumed, with only ashes remaining, “. . the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”

My thoughts today were prompted by awakening Sunday with the poignant melody of an old hymn: “Remember; only what you do for Christ will last. Only what you do for Him, will be counted at the end. Remember; only what you do for Christ will last.” (Raymond Rasberry © 1963, Pronto Music and Simco Music Co.) Long after my life is spent, I want what I have said and done to be of enduring value. Read Hebrews 4:12-16 NIV. Never exchange the permanence of eternity for the transience of a lifetime.

Today, my prayer for you is to live each day aware of the unparalleled importance of eternity.

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Taking Responsibility

May 8th, 2013

“I am innocent . . the responsibility is yours.” Matthew 27:24 NLT.

Being a Christ-follower is simple, not complex; just follow Jesus.

My thoughts and comments today are about “taking responsibility.”

When religious leaders accused Jesus before Pilate, the Roman Governor questioned Him and announced, “I find no fault in this man.’” Matthew 23:4 NIV. He could have set Jesus free with a single word, but he did not. Instead, “He sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands, saying, ’I am innocent of the blood of this man. The responsibility is yours.’” Matthew 27:24 NLT. There was enough blame for everyone. In washing his hands Pilate thought he was through with the matter, but is more remembered for that single act than anything else he ever said or did. Washing his hands became a symbolism for every attempt to deflect blame onto another by deferring individual responsibility.

Who hasn’t heard a child’s self-justifying excuse for misbehavior, “He hit me first; well, she started it.” There is always an excuse for one’s own behavior if willing to blame someone else. Taking responsibility does not come naturally; it has to be taught and learned. Never confuse excuses with reasons. If you are looking for someone or something to blame for your shortcomings or failures, you can always find an excuse for why you did not do what you should or why you are not what you are supposed to be.

Shifting blame is a cowardly practice, but one as old as the human race. The practice began at creation and continues uninterrupted yet today. Deferring personal responsibility by assigning blame is nothing new. In Eden, Eve was tempted and readily included Adam. Read Genesis 3:1-13 NIV. When their disobedience was exposed, Eve blamed the temptation; Adam blamed Eve, then even blamed God. “’The man said, ‘The woman You put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God said, ‘What is this you have done?’” Genesis 3:12-13 NIV.

God who is always just – and always right – addressed individual responsibility and assigned fitting consequences to the Deceiver, then to Eve, and finally to Adam. God will hold each person responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, words, or actions. Read Romans 14:12-13 NKJV. And thus the die was cast in human hearts and history. By choice, you bear your spiritual heritage, whether of Adam or Christ.

Godly Character requires that you accept personal accountability, in order to change and mature. Others will carry their own guilt for their choices; for your choices, you bear your own responsibility. See Romans 2:6-11 NIV. When Peter questioned how God would handle John, Jesus’ response was clear and to the point, “What is that to you? You follow Me.” John 21:18-22 NKJV.

Being a Christ-follower is simple, not complex; just follow Jesus. Your responsibility before God is singular, just as your response to Him must be. Leave the moral frailties and spiritual failures of others for God to sort out, while you keep your heart clear before Him. Read Matthew 7:1-5 NLT. On a cross, the One who had no sins of His own took full responsibility for your sins and mine. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV. The Righteous One will deal with each of us with grace and truth. “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came though Jesus Christ.” See John 1:14-18 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will keep your eyes on Jesus alone.

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Trusted Leaders

June 16th, 2010

“Bring Me seventy . . who are known . . as leaders among the people.” Numbers 11:16 NIV

“With or without a title or position, someone is watching you and following your example.”

My thoughts today are about “trusted leaders.”

There is a principle of leadership easily drawn from today’s verse and it is this: the most trusted leaders are known in the circle of people they are asked to lead, and will have come from among those same people. Occasionally in times of crisis a leader may arise who was previously unnoticed or overlooked but generally, trusted leadership is evidenced from among the people through the processes of time and proven record.

The news recently told of a political candidate in North Carolina who won the Democratic Party’s primary for the US Congress. He was unknown, unemployed, raised no money and made no campaign appearances. Yet he won the primary election! How confident do you think voters in the general election will be of this unknown candidate for such a national office?

People tend to respond most cooperatively to those they know well and are more comfortable when knowing another’s history of reliability. The placement of a leader should be no surprise to anyone; the hoped for response should be two simple words of recognition, “Of course!”

I suggest that everyone is both a follower and a leader; you are following someone and others are inevitably watching and following you. Learning to follow another supportively may be the beginning steps in your becoming a trusted leader, and that recognition is not a release from your continuing to remain a good follower as well.

A leader does not deserve, and should not expect, a quality of followers any more loyal and supportive than others have seen them to be. “Care for the (people) of God entrusted to you . . because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord over the people assigned to your care, but lead by your good example.” 1 Peter 5:2-3 NLT.

When given to you, the opportunity to lead others does not first grant you honor and privilege; the trust of others gives you responsibilities and accountability before God that should call for an honest humility. Society recognizes and enforces the sober duty of a parent’s responsible care and leadership of their children. The community holds parents legally accountable for their children’s health, safety and well being. As well, responsible “elder care” is a growing social concern in an aging and ailing community, and those failing that trust face legal consequence.

How much more is the sacred accountability for shaping lives spiritually and eternally? “Leaders . . keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17-18 NIV/See James 3:1 NIV.

Notice in today’s verse – “The Lord said to Moses, Bring Me seventy . . who are known to you as leaders among the people” – God is the One before whom all leadership is brought, and to whom all leadership is ultimately accountable. Remember everyone is a leader in some way to someone else. With or without any title or position, someone is watching your life and following your example. My Dad taught me, as a young minister in training, “Others who follow may exceed your liberties; be careful. They may fall short of your discipline; be exemplary.” That’s good advice!

My prayer for you today is that you would be easy to follow and careful to lead.

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Fully Alive

January 25th, 2010

“I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 NIV

“It is arrogance to assume that your life is yours to do with as you want.”

My thoughts today are about being “fully alive.”

It is easy to assume a mistaken idea of what it means to be fully alive. Some think that means to live as you want with no restraints, free to do what you want when you want and to whomever you want. At the root of such an idea is wrongly thinking that your life is yours to do with as you want. Is that ever really true?

Here’s what the Bible plainly says as Paul writes to Christ-followers who were living carelessly and independently, “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT. Consider this, “Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that . . you were redeemed from the empty way of life . . with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish.” 1 Peter 1:17-19 NIV. What a price God paid for you! If you rightly belong to another, there is a debt of love, obedience, and service you owe.

There is a measure of that principle to be seen in ordinary employment. You can’t accept another man’s wages and then work as you please, and if you please. Even more so, this principle is very true in marriage. You voluntarily embrace sacred vows that come with restraints and accountability to live for another’s best. You know what happens to the success of either of those if you reserve to yourself the right to live as you please. Human nature accepts, even expects, privilege while demanding every option and ignoring any personal obligation. Life will not work that way for you.

The best life is found in doing what you should, not as you would – joyfully doing what God wants rather than what you or others want. Your life came from God and daily comes from God. Do you not then owe Him everything? Read Romans 11:33-36 NLT.

As a teen, I learned a simple chorus: “Without Him, I could do nothing; without Him, I’d surely fail; without Him, I would be drifting, like a ship without a sail.” I have found those words to still be true. Faith is not an attachment to your life; it is the heart and core. From that, every other thing revolves.

Trying to live by your clever wits, depending upon your own strength, obeying any impulse, and pleasing yourself first and foremost just does not work out in the long haul. Life can be tough when you try to live it on your own terms. There is a sweet surrender when you come to the end of yourself, and there find that God is your sufficiency. Read John 6:66-69 NIV.

Have you heard a person say someone “doesn’t have a life?” The Bible describes such a person, “who lives for pleasure (and) is dead, even while he lives.” 1 Timothy 5:6 NIV. Isn’t that a sad description? But that’s true of some, who are simply unwilling to allow Christ to live in and through them. Here’s the rest of Paul’s words, “I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:19-20 NLT. That’s the only way to be fully alive, as you were intended!

My prayer for you is: that you know what life really is and where that alone can be found.

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The Simple and Satisfying Life

September 25th, 2009

“What do you have that God hasn’t given you?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

“You serve at God’s pleasure, with God’s provision, under God’s direction.”

My thoughts today are about “the simple and satisfying life”

It is tempting to presume that who you are, or what you have, or what you can do is of our own making. It rarely, if ever, is. Your individual talents, abilities, possessions, and even your relationships and opportunities are not things you own. When Paul was addressing the pride and boasting of believers in Corinth, he challenged them to consider, “What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 NLT. Not easy to miss Paul’s point or debate his reasoning.

Among the first words a toddler learns to express is their declaration of ownership, “Mine!” And it seems that one of the hardest and last things they learn as adults is how very few things really are! If they ever realize it at all. The Bible describes this insatiable need to own and control and the internal and external conflicts that result in this way, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1 NIV.

There is very little that originates with any of us, or of which any of us are truly owners; you are really a steward spiritually of whatever has been entrusted to you by God, out of His grace and ample provision. See 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV. That being true, you are not free to do with that as you please. You serve at God’s pleasure, out of God’s provision, under God’s direction, and with ultimate accountability to Him. “As each has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God  . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12 NIV/1 Peter 4:10 NAS. That’s what stewards do.

I think that most of would prefer be owners, but the reality is that all of us are stewards – a more current business position would be called a manager. A manager is a person given a trust by someone else to faithfully and effectively serve the other’s best intents and interests. With that trust comes a required loyalty and accountability. Loyalty and accountability are not optional for anyone, especially stewards. “Now a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. What about me? Have I been faithful? . . It is the Lord Himself who will examine me and decide.” 1 Corinthians 4:2-4 NLT.

Owner or steward? You have to decide. Life is so much simpler for you when you have less to worry about and fewer to whom you answer. Anything you have is out of His gracious supply; everything you are is the product of His presence in your life; all that you can do or give is to be for His service and glory. That’s the simple and satisfying life.

My prayer for you today is: rejoice to be a recipient and steward of God’s benevolence.

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