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Accountability, An Avoided Character Trait

In 2014, Brazil hosted the World Cup of Futbol (soccer). The pride of Brazil was dashed when Germany crushed their team in an unheard-of 7-1 victory. Five of the goals were scored in the first thirty minutes, with four of those being made in a seven-minute span. After the game, the defeated coach, Luis Felipe Scolari, made this statement, “The catastrophic result can be shared with the whole group, but the choice and who decided the tactical lineup — I did. The person who is responsible is me… I am sorry we couldn’t give the fans happiness,” he said. “We didn’t get it and I ask all of Brazil to forgive me” (“Brazil’s Coach Shows How to Lose” by James Joyner). He left the field in tears. It took great moral fortitude to be accountable to an angry nation for such a humiliating loss. When we’ve done wrong, will we stand and be accountable? The more popular choice is to pass the blame, deny, avoid, dodge, deceive, lie and elude any kind of responsibility for our actions. We might be able to elude accountability, but there will come a time when we cannot. Everyone will give an account before God for all the things done in the body, good or bad (Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10). In light of that inevitable date, we should know the following three things.

One, we need to know when we are accountable. There is an age or mental capacity at which we become accountable for our actions (Deut. 1:39). When we are able to discern between good and evil is when we are then accountable for our actions (Jas. 4:17). Innocence is what mankind lost in the garden.

We need to know who we are accountable for. We are accountable for our own actions (Ezek. 18:20; Rev. 20:12). In the eyes of God, we can’t place our blame to others or take the guilt of others. However, there is the principle of the watchman. In this, we are held responsible if we don’t warn people of judgment (Ezek. 33:8). Meaning, we will both be at fault. Paul applied this to himself when he said that he was “free from the blood of all men” because he “did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:26-27). In like manner, there is a need to help those who are in sin, to restore them (Gal. 6:1; Jude 1:23). Parents are also responsible for their own children (Eph 6:4; Luke 17:1-4). We are accountable for ourselves, but we have a responsibility toward others.

Lastly, we need to know we are accountable to God. We will be judged according to the words of Christ (John 12:48-50). Nobody can hide from the word of the Lord (Heb. 4:12-13). Our hearts are always open before the eyes of the Lord (Jer. 17:10). What God has done in this world has left us “without excuse” on the day of judgment (Rom. 1:10).