In a recent conversation, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the subject of accountability and prompted me to share it up with a couple. No sooner then this occurred, I began to question, where is the Spirit going with this? Isn’t it funny how when the Spirit of God leads you to do something, the first things to follow are questions and uncertainties. So I gave myself a mental slap on the face to snap out of it. Now where was I? Oh! Accountability. I then asked the couple what came to mind when they thought of the word accountability? They shared things like – responsibility, obligation, checks and balances. I agreed and shared what came to me which was that as children of God we are to be accountable to one another. Like it or not we are our brother’s keeper. Cain’s infamous last words about Able were, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Now if you’re not familiar with the story of Cain and Able, this is an Old Testament account of two brothers. You see Abel was a tender of sheep. Out of his love for The Lord, Abel desired to offer the best of his flock as a sacrifice to The Lord God. Abel’s older brother, Cain, was a farmer and he also offered some of his fruit of the ground as an offering to The Lord, but not the first or best of what Cain had to offer. Abel’s offering was accepted by God but Cain’s was not and this angered Cain. And The Lord spoke to Cain asking him why was his countenance so low. God told Cain that if he brought the correct sacrifice he would be accepted. Genesis 4:7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Instead of Cain bringing to God what He required, Cain lured his younger brother out into the field and killed him. Genesis 4:8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Cain should have held himself accountable to God first and as the older brother accepted his responsibility of protecting and loving Abel unconditionally. But Cain allowed his anger towards Abel to be fueled all the more. What are some things at present or in your past that you’ve allowed to fuel your temper? Was it perhaps jealously, envy or strife? You see these temperaments left unchecked lead to anger, frustration and bitterness. God provided away of escape for Cain, if only he was willing to do to right thing.
Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
So Christians, where should accountability start? Glad you asked! Accountability should start in the hearts of each of us. Listen to what God says to Cain. Christians beware to what you allow to enter through the door of your heart; for that’s where accountability starts – in the heart. We should take inventory of the condition of our hearts. The Prophet Jeremiah did this very thing and had this to say this about the condition of the human heart. Jeremiah 17:9 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? King David wrote this in Psalm 139:33 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. And earlier on in Psalm 119:11 David wrote: I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. So you see when we give our hearts to The Lord, we make ourselves accountable to Him. And He will protect us and guard our hearts.
The consequences of not being accountable is a loss of protection that comes with a heavy penalty. Genesis 4:10-12 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Genesis 4:13-14 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Tell me if you hear any humility in Cain’s voice. There is no mention of his guilt for killing his brother. Instead, he only complains to The Lord that his punishment is too much to bear. Cain’s tone of voice is more like, it’s your fault God that men will seek to kill me. Cain showed no sorrow or repentance whatsoever for murdering his brother. His response to God was only focused on selfishness, a “what would become of me” attitude. He complained men will seek to kill me!
Genesis 4:15-16 But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Even with the consequences of knowing that the earth would no longer yield its fruits to him and he would no longer enjoy fellowship with God but instead all his days would be restless, Cain continued to take no responsibility for his actions.
Again I say accountability works for our benefit and to the benefit of others. It acts as a hedge to make us responsible to one another. Cain didn’t see how accountability would have provided a hedge of protection for him. If we love God then we should obey Him. Had Cain offered what God required of him with the same loving heart as Abel, Cain never would have gone down that road of anger that ultimately led him to kill his brother. If Cain had made himself accountable to God in the first place, this whole course of events wouldn’t have happened. That’s why I say that accountability is a hedge of protection for us. So, who do you hold yourself accountable to … God, yourself, no one?