6 minute read

Before You Hold Me Accountable, Let Me Hold You Accountable

Last Updated: June 9, 2015

Rick Thomas
Rick Thomas

Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.  In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and in 1991 he earned a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with a MA in Counseling from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a  Fellow with Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).

Here are three questions all disciples should understand and apply before they seek to disciple, counsel or hold anyone accountable.

. . . .

Do You Love Me?

  1. Is the person you hold accountable more aware of your correction and displeasure, or your gratitude and affection for him or her?
  2. How aggressive are you in expressing gratitude to the people you hold accountable? When you bring correction to the people you hold accountable, is your correction within the context of your love for them?
  3. Or is your discipline like withdrawing from an account that is already overdrawn?

When God disciplines me I am well aware of his stunning affection for me because the Gospel reminds me daily of how much he loves me. So when he does discipline me, which he should, I’m not discouraged. I’m disciplined, but I know I am loved.

  1. Do your friends know you love them?
  2. Are they aware of your affection for them?

When my wife brings correction to me, it is a sour drop in an ocean of love. She aggressively pursues me in love to encourage and reaffirm her affection for me. And because of her love, I can respond to her correction correctly.

A wise man knows: in bringing correction to friends great dividends are returned from an aggressive investment in  gratitude. Put money in the bank, so to speak, and when the time comes to make a withdrawal, it won’t be so discouraging to the one you’re bringing correction because this person will be mostly aware of your love.

This was Paul’s approach to the Corinthians. He brought many correctives to this rowdy bunch of Christians, but he did not withhold his affection from them. Before you read about his correctives, read about his affection 1 Corinthians 1 (see verses 4 through 9 below).

  1. How do you approach people who need your correction?
  2. Do you approach them with gratitude in your heart, or are you ready to “lay into them” without reaffirming your affection for them?

I have reflected much on these questions and I am asking myself how I would rate with my wife, children and friends. I wonder, when they think of me, do they first think of my affection and gratitude for them, or my correction and general displeasure of them.

Here is a little test for you: Go to your spouse or the person you are holding accountable and ask the questions above.

Let me also suggest a preface that may serve you as you prepare to ask your spouse, children, or friends these questions. Be sure to let them know this: “If you knew that I would not get mad and you were confident that I would not respond negatively to you in any way and you had complete freedom to respond in any way that you felt right, what would you tell me regarding these questions?”

. . . .

Do You Believe I Can Change?

  1. Do you believe or have confidence that the erring brother you are holding accountable can change?
  2. Do you believe God can change him?
  3. Do you have faith for the process of change in his life?

There is only one right answer to these questions. That answer is unequivocally YES!! There cannot be any other answer to these questions. You must believe the answer is “yes” in order to believe rightly about the process of change in a believer’s life.

Here is my reasoning:

Point #1 – The operative word from the erring brother’s perspective is that he is an “erring” brother. He is a believer. He is a Christian.

Point #2 – God is very clear regarding that which he has begun: he will finish it. Let’s look at one text regarding God’s faith for change in his children. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

God is very clear regarding His faith, His belief or His confidence for the process of change in a Christian’s life. He is fully aware that the process which he has begun will most certainly be completed.

Do you believe the process of change can happen in an erring brother or sister’s life? Do you have faith for them?

Note Paul’s faith for the process in the rowdy Corinthian Christians. They were sinning their brains out. The church was dysfunctional. Sin was pervasive, around every corner, and many of them were going headstrong into sin. It was an awful church context with many erring brothers and sisters.

Note how Paul began his address to this rowdy bunch of believers:

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:4-9).

Wow! You can correct me, Paul!! You not only love me, but you have faith in God for me, and I feel this faith, love, care, and affection for the process of change. Paul said…

  • I give thanks to my God always for you
  • I know the grace of God was given to you
  • You were enriched in him
  • The testimony about Christ was confirmed among you
  • You are not lacking in any spiritual gift
  • The Lord Jesus Christ will sustain you
  • You will be guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • And God is faithful, by whom you were called
  1. Do your friends, whom you bring correction, know that you believe these things listed above about them?
  2. Are they more aware of your correction or your faith that you have for them for the process you’re about to take them through?

. . . .

Do You Know Who My Dad Is?

I have been of the opinion for many years now that some Christians can easily forget the biblical call for encouragement; and in thinking the best about the person they are serving, they choose, rather, to be harsh and unkind.

I have also forgotten this simple but imperative truth as I have tried to serve my friends in counseling. At times, I have been harsh to my friends. This is unbiblical, uncaring, and anti-Gospel. Bringing correction should never imply being unkind. I have failed this way many times.

And when I forget, I need to remember that Christ died on the Cross for that person I am now serving. And because Christ cared that much about them (to willfully be murdered), then that puts them into a special category of people, and I want to be careful how I interact with them. They are God’s children. I need to be encouraging as I walk my erring brothers and sisters through sanctification challenges.


God executed his Son on a cruel cross for you, me, and the people we are serving. (I’m assuming the folks we serve through discipleship, counseling or accountability are brothers or sisters in Christ.) The infinite Father killed the infinite Son to pay for an infinite crime against an infinite God. Only an infinite sacrifice could pay for an infinite crime; therefore, my good works would never work because I’m a finite, tainted vessel who could never please the infinite God by my dirty deeds.

Therefore, God did the impossible, the improbable, and the overwhelmingly stunning. He made the ultimate sacrifice for me, you, and the friends we serve. This makes our friends supremely special, not because of what they did, but because of what Christ did. And I need to be careful about how I think about them, talk about them, and speak to them. They are children of the infinite God, who sent his Son to us and then executed Him for us.

In my weak humanness, I can somewhat understand how special children are. As a father, I will quickly get on the case of anyone who thinks or acts unkindly toward my children. I sacrifice daily for my kids. I care for them. I love them. And it would be good for you to love them as well.

Tread carefully with my kids! Be even more mindful of God’s kids.

If you can successfully process and apply these three simple truths, then you will practically understand the Gospel for your life and be ready to hold your friend accountable.