Monday, January 27, 2014

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 4: Accountability

The actual title of chapter 4 is "Friends Don't Let Friends Eat Before Thinking," but it is primarily about how friends can help us along the way. Friends who have gone on this journey before us can encourage us through it because they've experienced them, too, and we can also mutually encourage friends who are going through the same journey we are at the same time. That's one thing I like about reading books like this and participating in the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Lysa points out that "desperation leads to degradation. In other words, when what is lacking in life goes from being an annoyance to an anxiety, we run the risk of compromising in ways we never thought we would" (p. 42K).

She points out that two well-known verses that we tend to think of separately are actually together in context:

"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:7-8).

"You see, when we determine to get healthy, we will have to give up certain things and change our habits. Doing this can make us feel anxious. That's why we must have friends to help us remember that what we're giving up in the short term will help us get what we really want in the long term. If we forget to be self-controlled and alert, we are prime targets for Satan to usher us right away from the new standards we've set in our life. That's degradation" (p. 42K).

Here's where I have a bit of a problem with the idea of accountability. Actually our modern interpretation of what accountability means has been a sore spot with me for some years. I do agree that the Bible teaches we are accountable to one another and to our authority figures in particular, and that we all have the "right" as a Christian brothers and sisters to hold each other up to God's truth and "call" each other on it when we stray (Galatians 6:1, Proverbs 9:7-9). But I don't know that that translates into regular weekly meetings where we "report" to each other. I've known of people who met or talked regularly to "hold each other accountable" for having their personal devotions or to memorize Scripture or, as in this case, to share how they're doing in their dietary changes, and I have heard them say, as Lysa does here, that knowing they have to report to that person motivates them to keep on tract. My problem is this: if I am only motivated to do what I need to do because I am going to have to report on my actions to someone, then am I really doing it as unto the Lord, or for the eyes of other people? I have no doubt this kind of thing works, but does it work on the basis of my pride, that I am avoiding messing up because I don't want to have to admit to failure and deal with the response from my friend, rather than to please the Lord? (Amended to add that I am not accusing anyone else who meets for this kind of accountability of having these motives. I just know that would be something I would struggle with.)

In the paragraph I quoted above after I Peter 5:7-8, Lysa for some reason inserts friends in-between the one about casting our care on Christ and the one about Satan being like a devouring lion, and friends aren't in the text. No doubt friends can help us turn our eyes to Christ and can help us avoid temptation and walk with God. But my first source should be casting my care on God myself, not necessarily phoning a friend. It's not wrong to phone a friend for help in this regard, but it's not required.

Again, I'm not saying friends aren't valuable (they are!) or that the Bible doesn't teach accountability (it does!) or that friends can't help us spiritually (they can!) I just don't think we necessarily need to put them all together into daily or weekly "reporting" to each other as Christians today tend to like to do. But if you do that and it's a help to you, by all means, continue.


Senkyoushi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Senkyoushi said...

I see what you are saying about the accountability groups, but I do think there is a place for them. For example, those trying to get over an addiction, etc. We used to receive criticism because we required our children to read their Bibles everyday. The day came when they matured and we no longer had to require it. They wanted to do it. That was always the goal.