Articles

Articles

Accountability

"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." (Rev. 22:12)

Life-altering events occur in all of our individual journeys from infancy to death and it is relatively easy to reflect on those special days in our lives that mark us in some way as good or bad people in the eyes of the world. As children our memorable "good" days may be getting a straight "A" report card, being selected for an All-Star team, getting a special gift we've always wanted or taking that once-in-a-lifetime vacation. As adults, we can think of our wedding day, the births of our children, buying a new home or getting a needed job or promotion. Bad days that stick in our memories may include, as children, failing in school, getting cut from a team, disappointing our parents in some major way or losing our first boy or girl friend. Divorce, financial calamities, serious illness, loss of a job and death are all events that mark certain days in our adult lives as "bad". It can reasonably be said that all human beings have both good and bad days and that some days appear to have more significance in our lives than others. Someone has correctly stated that it's not the cards we are dealt that matter, but how we play our hand. Jesus' parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) makes this concept scripturally valid.

But do a few "significant" days make us who we are and determine the eternal destination of our souls? Certainly, an horrific act of murder can shatter an image and expose a spiritual weakness and change our lives forever. The same could be said for an act of adultery, theft, bribery or any number of "illegal or immoral" activities. By the same token, our decision to confess Jesus as the Son of God and be baptized with a heart of repentance changes our lives in a good way. But what about the normal, usual days of our lives? Are they important and significant to us and to God? What about those days where we just don't feel well and chastise our children for no reason or make rude remarks to our spouse? What about the days when we know a neighbor needs a ride or just someone to talk to and we're too busy to bother? What about the days when we choose to go to the beach instead of going to services, or sit in services with our minds at the beach instead of on our commitment to God? What about the days when we watch 4 hours of television and can't find the time to read our Bibles? What about the days when we just say "no" because saying "yes" will take too much time and energy? What about the days we dwell on our own problems and ignore those of everyone around us? What about those days when we do nothing particularly positive or negative and just kind of muddle through?

It seems to me that God expects the obvious from everyone - Do not murder, do not steal, do not commit adultery, have no idols, do not lie, etc. Those who violate these clear-cut laws can easily be identified and labeled by the rest of us as "Bad". However, God shows no distinction between levels of sin and the New Covenant as established by Jesus cuts to the heart and judges us daily in our every thought and deed. The essence of Matthew 25: 31-46 is that it is how we live our lives on a daily basis that will determine whether or not we spend eternity in heaven or hell. It isn't momentous acts of charity or the terrible mistakes that we make that will ultimately decide our fate. There is no partiality with God, sin is sin regardless of the weight man may assign to a particular deed. Of course, we must follow the steps of salvation as a condition of eternal grace. The hearing, believing, confessing, repenting and being baptized are given essentials the Bible outlines for all who wish to enter the kingdom. But after baptism, the real journey of obedience begins. We will have days when we make real progress and feel good about our faith. Then we will have days where we regress into our old attitudes and doubt our purpose in wearing the name "Christian". The key is dogged perseverance. As Paul stresses in Philippians 3: 12-17, we must press on, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. And we can't do it alone. That's why God established the church and gave us the Bible. We draw comfort and strength from the Bible, then support and encouragement from the church. God's plan is perfect, but we must accept His conditions and never give up hope.

Accountability, like death, is something none of us can escape and we must not lose sight of the little things in life as we strive for our larger goals.