The Life And Death From Accountability


It wrecks havoc in families. It yields to sin and bullying. It holds others emotionally captive.  It gives way to collateral damage and fractured relationships. It compromises future generations. It breeds destruction. It is …………the absence of accountability.

However, where there IS accountability, there is life and emotional health. There is courage, wisdom and justice. Safety, security, respect.  Wherever there is accountability, there is love and hope!

Accountabilty is God-ordained, ultimately used to glorify His Name. It is a reflection of how He treats us and is the expectation of how we are to treat others. It is to be rooted in love and edifying in purpose. It’s value cannot be underestimated. Accountability can literally mean the difference between life and death.

James 5:19-20 is a good explanation of the intended purpose of accountability. “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

We see this verse played out in two different ways in the life of David. David had been on the receiving end of accountability in 2 Samuel 12 from the prophet Nathan, with his response to the rebuke described in Psalm 51.

These are wonderful examples of the grand, glorious purpose of accountability. We see how the prophet was forthright with David, rebuking him for his grievous sin with Bathsheba and orchestrating the death of her husband. The best part of this whole story is how King David first responds to Nathan in the Samual passage. After the stinging rebuke and Nathan conveying God’s impending judgement for him, David utters immediately,” I have sinned against the LORD.”

I am struck with how upright his knee-jerk response was! Most of us, especially me, get defensive with our initial response to criticism or correction. Not David! He was instinctivly admitting his wrong and agreeing with God’s perspective. He submitted and took responsibility. How refreshing?!

Then to elaborate further on the proper response at being held accountable, he penned Psalm 51. He lays out so plainly how sin is an offense against God first and foremost. He admits his fault and pleads for forgiveness and mercy. David is a true example of being in the wrong, getting called out on it, and responding appropriately with humble repentance.

Because of his response, his relationship with the Lord was restored, although he and his family still suffered the consequences of their sin when their baby died. God offered full forgiveness but that does not mean He withholds consequences or discipline. David prayed and fasted in hopes that God would change His mind, but in the end he yielded to the Lord’s decision.

One of the reasons I love David so is that he provides such practical examples in living the life of faith, the highs and the lows. I learn from him how to worship, how to call upon God, how to cry out for help, how to be devoted passionately to the Lord, how to persevere………but I also learn how to confess and repent.

The next example of King David dealing with accountability is surprising to me. After having been on the receiving end of it, he misses the opportunity in 2 Samuel 13 at holding his son accountable. Even though he knew the process and purpose of it, he neglected to offer it to his own family as they began to spiral downward into sin.

His son Amnon rapes his half sister Tamar and when David hears of it in verse 21, it says he was furious. What it does not say is even more important though. Nowhere is it mentioned that King David did anything about the grievous sin! He never confronted his son or sought to reconcile the family as he helped them process the situation biblically. He did not confront, or correct, or lead them to repentance. There was no justice. No recompense. No accountability…….

His family was left to deal with it on their own; his daughter devastated and disgraced, her half-brother carrying on like nothing happened, and her full brother Absalom steadily building into a murderous rage at his unvindicated sister. Two years pass and the family implodes! Revenge, murder, and exile follow in the absence of accountability. Eventually, Absalom initiates a move and in effect, steals his father’s throne. Now David has lost the kingdom as he becomes the exiled.

Time and lives are lost in this struggle between father and son, all because of David’s unwillingness to hold his own son accountable. Life is never the same for this family. What’s more, God is shamed at all this sin spiraling out of control.

How many today can attest to  fractured relationships and broken lives attributed to the lack of accountability? Generational tendencies left unchecked cause damage, leaving handicapped souls in it’s path. It sends people into unhealthy cycles and can take many years to grapple with the far-reaching effects that are unnecessary and unfair.

David learned the hard way that he had way more to lose than personal emotional upheaval over confronting sin. I wonder if he would have done things differently, thought it was worth the effort to say “No!” to those who needed to hear it. His inability to offer accountability caused his family’s sin to become the nation’s dismay.

When we do not have the courage to hold others accountable for their actions, it more than compromises future generations, it defames His Name. May we heed God’s Word to remind us that turning a sinner from the error of his way can save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

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