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Let's Get Real about Accountability

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 15, 2024 12:00 am

Let's Get Real about Accountability

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 15, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here: https://wfth.me/pap.  Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, but He also called them to be in community with each other. Jesus wanted them, and us, to understand that the Christian life is not meant to be lived in solitude. Accountability is a vital element of our discipleship, our sanctification, and our service. Through three teachings, Jesus urges us to make accountability a vital part of our churches and our fellowship.

 

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Have you ever thought about the fact that God designed us? He wants us to influence other people, to guide each other. Another word for that is discipleship.

Life on life. This is where you say, I'm a little older in the faith. You can watch me.

You can follow me. What the Apostle Paul said when he said, be imitators of me as, here's the catch, as I imitate Christ. Jesus called his disciples to follow him, but he also called them to be in community with each other.

Jesus wanted them and us to understand that the Christian life is not meant to be lived in solitude. One of the many reasons for that is accountability. Accountability is a vital element of our discipleship, our sanctification, and our service. Through three teachings, Jesus urged us to make accountability a vital part of our churches and our fellowship. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart.

Today, Stephen has a message for you called, Let's Get Real About Accountability. God has designed us to pull each other away from the undertow of our own pride, our own pursuits, our own innate desire to be accountable to no one but ourselves, to live, as the world would say, loyal to yourself, your own truth. Which is really nothing more than arrogant, me, myself, and I living. That's exactly what Jesus is going to deal with in Luke chapter 17.

So let me invite you there. Luke chapter 17, if you're new, we're going through this book together. When you arrive at chapter 17, it seems to be a series of random thoughts.

Some call them proverbs. They're disjointed. They appear that way at first in this conversation between the Lord and his disciples. But the more you explore this passage, it's clear that the Holy Spirit, through Luke, has placed them together to highlight a common theme, and I would all that the theme is accountability. Certainly the elements of honesty and transparency and humility, they're all going to surface here in this passage as well, but I think the connecting theme is this idea of personal accountability, and that ties it all together. And I want to tell you, in a passage like this, as we get into it together, this is one of those where I like to say Jesus sort of drops his gloves, so to speak, and he speaks in a very pointed way.

This is some harsh terminology, and I can tell you, American ears especially aren't used to this as he speaks. Jesus is going to say, effectively say, let's get real about our personal accountability. And he's going to do that in three different areas, three different places where accountability needs to show up, so let me break it down into these three.

The first, in principle form, would be this. We are accountable to new believers to influence them correctly. Now, Luke 17, verse 1, and he said to his disciples, temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come. Now, your translation might read stumbling blocks will inevitably come, but woe to him through whom they come. Temptation to sin, that can be translated stumbling blocks.

It's from the Greek word skandalon that gives us our English transliterated word scandal. You are never beyond the potential of scandal, no matter how old you are. You're never beyond it. There's always the threat of temptation.

So be careful. But Jesus isn't really just talking about you and me as it relates to our own avoidance of scandal. He's talking about us having a lifestyle that does not set a trap, leads someone into something that would be for them, could turn out to be for them, a disaster, a trap, a scandal. Have you ever thought about the fact that God designed us, he wants us to influence other people, to guide each other? Another word for that is discipleship, life on life. This is where you say, I'm a little older in the faith, you can watch me, you can follow me. What the Apostle Paul said when he said, be imitators of me as, here's the catch, as I imitate Christ.

1 Corinthians 11, 1, this is Hebrews 13, 7, where the congregation is exhorted, remember your leaders and imitate their faith. Watch them. Struck me as I was reflecting on this text that we have in our social media world now, a growing number of people who are called influencers. Their profession is posting their lives, their hobbies, their opinions on everything, their skills, whatever, online. Imagine the significance of this question though, what do you do for a living? I influence people. I influence people. Can you imagine the judgment on influencers for having influenced people into traps, to sin, to deny a creator God, to pursue their own moral choices, to follow their own truth, to basically live for themselves. Do you really want to be an influencer? Well, let me tell you, as far as Jesus is concerned, you are. You're supposed to be. Now, you might not have a million followers and that's probably a good thing, but you happen to have more than you realize, a child, a friend, a co-worker, a competitor, a classmate, a teacher, a student.

You have no idea who's watching you. Even today, when we come into the community of faith, you're going to influence somebody by your smile or your frown, that handshake, how you doing, that encouragement. You're influencing people. Jesus is saying here, we need to get real with the idea of accountability in life and accept it, but be careful with it. Don't allow yourself to become a danger to somebody else's life.

The stakes are too high. In fact, Jesus goes on here to warn. Notice verse 2.

He says, It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea. Then he should cause one of these little ones to sin. The word for little ones in this immediate context, more than likely, refers to new believers. Taking their first steps as they begin to walk with God. They're highly influenced. They're impressionable. They're young in the faith, but little ones could also be applied, I believe more generally, to those who are in fact young, those who are indeed little.

Little ones are pliable. They're trusting by nature. They believe what you say.

The moon's made out of cheese. They'll believe it. I remember telling my daughter, she was little, honey, I was just pulling your leg, and she looked underneath the table and said, No, you're not, daddy. She took me literally.

That's what I was doing. Can you imagine then the responsibility of television and social media producers? College professors who put that stumbling block of skepticism or atheism in front of their first-year students. School leaders, frankly, on all levels that encourage dishonorable behavior, rebellion against parents, immoral choices go down the line. Basically, imagine the judgment of God on everyone who influences a little one to take that step and trip that trap. Caught.

Not my problem. Yes, it is. Jesus uses a rather graphic illustration, doesn't he, to get across the seriousness of this point. He says again in verse 2, It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea, that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

A millstone weighed hundreds of pounds. Jesus effectively says, It would be better to die that kind of horrific death than be guilty of leading a little one to sin. Judgment Day is coming.

You better be careful what you're teaching the little ones. We're to have a sense of accountability to new believers to influence them correctly. Secondly, we are accountable to fellow believers to forgive them graciously.

Look at verse 3. Pay attention to yourselves. That is, this is a mutual accountability issue here.

This goes both ways. If your brother sins, rebuke him. And if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in the day, that is the same day, and turns to you seven times saying, I repent, you must forgive him. Now, in this illustration, the Lord is asking the disciples to imagine that someone is sinning against them personally, another brother that is a believer. And their tendency, he knows, and ours as well, is to feel hurt, perhaps nurse a grudge. You see, they're in danger. If they're doing something seven times in the same day, they're trapped. They're in some habitual lifestyle, perhaps of sinfulness, some error in judgment.

It could be any number of things. And again, Jesus isn't going to give us the list because it could be anything. But this is going to affect them and others. So here's what Jesus has to do. Verse 3 again. If your brother sins, the implication is against you, rebuke him. And if he repents, forgive him. The word rebuke means to call attention to wrongdoing graciously, and in that, provide a warning. Now, this doesn't mean that your new mission in life is to look for someone to rebuke. You know, I'm going to come to church, hopefully find two or three that I can get to do that to. Rebuking people is not a spiritual gift. We're not on the lookout for sins.

We should be on the lookout for solutions. Here's the solution. If he repents, forgive him. You ought to circle that word if. If he repents. Keep that in mind when you think you're supposed to forgive someone who hadn't asked you for forgiveness. You might do more harm than good if you tell them, like, I forgive you. And they haven't asked for forgiveness.

You can't put the cart before the horse. If they are unrepentant, if it seems unresolvable, maybe they've moved away or maybe they've passed away. There are cases where you would simply ask God to forgive them, do what Jesus did on the cross or Stephen when they were stoning him to death. Father, forgive them. That's literally handing that person over to God. Instead of reliving it over and over again, you hand them as it were to God. And by the way, God himself will not forgive someone who refuses to repent.

So now you've taken it up the ladder, so to speak, and handed it over to the Lord. The word repent here in this context means to change the mind rather than defend the sin. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but I've noticed churches, believers are forgiving anybody and everybody, even when that individual hadn't repented of anything. So what happens if someone sins against you and they respond to your gracious rebuke and they repent? Jesus says, again here in verse 3, if your brother sins, rebuke him. And if he repents, forgive him.

And you're saying, okay, okay, fair enough, I'll do that. But Jesus isn't finished. And if he sins against you seven times in the day, one day, and turns to you seven times saying, I repent, you must forgive him. Forgive him seven times in the same day.

Who in the world would do that? God. Aren't you glad he doesn't keep count? Jesus is saying then in this broader principle that forgiveness is not this unique experience, it's an ongoing practice. No wonder here in verse 5, they respond, the apostles said to the Lord, increase our faith. We will never be able to do that.

That's impossible. And the Lord says, well, if you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, the class condition is, and you do, you could say to the mulberry tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea and it would obey you. In other words, you have to trust God to accomplish this impossible spirit, this graciousness of forgiveness. And I don't know about you, but did you notice, you would think, you would expect the disciples to respond here by saying in verse 5, Lord, increase our love. We're going to really have to love people if we're ever going to do this. No doubt love is part of the equation, but it's going to take faith in him to forgive like this.

Why? Well, the word for forgive means to release, to release to God, to release to God, to take care of the consequences, to release that person to God, to handle the misunderstanding, to release to God, to take care of your reputation, vindication. Release to God the right in his own timing to work everything out for your good and his glory. And the apostles got the point here. It's going to take just the smallest of faith, but in the greatness of God to ever pull this off.

Now there's a third area. Quickly, we are accountable to the Lord Jesus to serve him willingly. Verse 7, will any of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he is coming from the field, come at once and recline at table? Will he not rather say to him, prepare supper for me and dress properly and serve me while I eat and drink?

And afterward you will eat and drink. Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you've done all that you were commanded, say we are unworthy servants.

We have only done what is our duty. Now before I dive into this, I want to pull over for just a moment and address something that gives theological liberals an opportunity to throw a stumbling block in front of especially freshman college students. They'll go to a passage like this and they'll say, you see Jesus is endorsing slavery and the Bible is promoting slavery. So neither Jesus nor the Bible can be trusted.

When you see the term servant or slave, we immediately think in our western world of that tragic and evil era in our country's history where people were stolen from their homes and sold into slavery. And the Hebrew and Greek portions of the Bible have words for that. It's the word that could be translated man stealing. And the Old Testament and the New Testament condemned it. God might have recorded it, he might have reported it, but he never endorsed it.

Man came up with that one. In fact, God condemned man stealing, selling people into slavery as a crime worthy of death. Go all the way back to the law in Exodus chapter 21 and verse 16 where God's law demands, whoever steals a man and sells him, and by the way, get this, and anyone found in possession of him shall be put to death.

You get rid of the whole crew. Over in the New Testament book of 1 Timothy chapter 1, Paul is describing abominations, ungodly people who violate the law of God, and in the middle of the list, he has that word enslaver in my translation, man stealer. God calls it an abomination. Practice was never supported by God, and even today in other countries of our world, Christians especially are targeted. You go to the Sudan or into the Middle East and you'll find believers being sold into slavery.

God will bring judgment on that as well. Now there are other types of slaves or servants in the first century. In fact, we know from Mark chapter 1 and verse 10 that James and John and their father Zebedee had a fishing business and verse 10 tells us they had hired servants.

You might think of them more accurately in our culture as employees. These servants were not free Roman citizens. There were millions of servant slaves in Rome. If you went to a doctor in the first century, he was probably a servant or a slave. That is, he wasn't a free Roman citizen. Paul, the apostle, will make a pretty big deal out of the fact that he was born a free man, or it would cost a lot of money to be saved up to buy a citizenship.

Many of these individuals then, they could if they were able to, they could own their own homes, they could raise their own families, they would have been your teachers, your laborers, your attorneys, your doctors, your neighbors. In rural areas especially, servants might be adopted into a family, live on the master's property, serve the household there on the farm, and they would be given room and board, they would be treated as members of the family. That's the individual Jesus is describing here in this illustration. You'll notice that he's both the farmhand and the shepherd and the cook. This family has one guy and he's pretty busy. Now, according to this illustration here, he's been working outdoors until the meal.

This particular meal, by the way, would be the late afternoon meal around 4 o'clock in the afternoon. And Jesus describes a scene here that's very common, which is why he didn't explain it. He's going to make this point. Here's the point, let me paraphrase. The servant comes in from the field and Jesus says to his disciples, would you ever expect the master to say, look, I want to thank you for plowing all day, why don't you take a seat in the lazy boy and let me fix dinner for you?

Hardly. He's going to say, you smell like the field, change your clothes, fix dinner, I'll be ready, and then you can eat afterwards. Would you expect the master to say thank you when he's simply done his job? So Jesus is asking his disciples, what are your expectations for serving God? Are you going to serve him because he thanks you? Are you going to serve him because he makes life easier for you?

Or are you going to serve God even if he doesn't give you a soft seat in room service? If it's simply your duty, oh, that's so harsh to our ears, especially American ears, because we want to have a conversation at this point with the labor union there in the first century Palestine. We want to talk about 40 hour work weeks. We want to talk about time and a half overtime. We want to talk about maternity leave. We want to talk about year-end bonuses. We want to talk about benefit packages and sick days and national holidays.

Now we're talking. You mean Jesus is expecting me to be accountable to him as my master and it is my duty to serve him? You mean to suggest to me that our reward is the fact that we got to serve him?

Yes. Now we know from Scripture that the Lord is going to magnificently reward us with a place in the kingdom where the bride of our Lord will be even dressed in glorious attire. But this text balances us with the declaration that we are his servants. We have no right to come to him and say, look, I've been serving you all these years and this is payback? My life's getting harder, not easier.

Where's the lazy boy? This passage challenges us to come to terms with real accountability. It's time to examine, first of all, our lifestyles. We're accountable to younger believers. Are we leading them toward holy living or are we suggesting here's how close to the edge you can get? We need to examine our spirit.

Is it rare for us to forgive others or is it our practice? Third, we need to examine our expectation for serving the Lord. Is it considered by us to be a privilege in simply the fact that we get to serve him? I couldn't help but wonder about Luke. He's writing this. Did he take the Lord's advice? Well, what we do know about him is that he was a physician before his conversion. He left his practice and began traveling with Paul and Silas on their second missionary journey. He'll be shipwrecked with Paul on the island of Malta. He'll be the only one to stay by him and serve him while he's imprisoned in Rome. After Paul's death, he travels to Boeotia in central Greece where he will write two best-selling books, the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, rarely if ever mentioning himself. An edition of the Bible found in the late second century that was published had this preface to the Gospel of Luke and I want to read it to you, just a line or two. Having neither wife nor children, Luke served the Lord faithfully until he fell asleep in Boeotia at the age of 84, full of the Holy Spirit.

Isn't that great? Accountable to the end, to new believers, to fellow believers, and that Jesus is Master and Lord. That was Stephen Davey and this is Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen called today's message, Let's Get Real About Accountability. Stephen will continue teaching through this section of Luke in the days ahead. I hope you'll be with us. In the meantime, if we can help you in any way, or if you'd like more information about the gift we send new listeners, give us a call. You can reach us at 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. Our email address is info at wisdomonline.org. You can use that for any correspondence you have with our ministry. Once again, that's info at wisdomonline.org. I hope we hear from you today. Thanks for joining us. Be sure and come back next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-15 01:32:36 / 2024-03-15 01:41:43 / 9

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