If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:10)
A few weeks ago I met up with a friend who I have not seen in years. Our families went to lunch and while sitting down over a cup of coffee watching the kids play, we made typical small talk, asking the other how he was doing and both of us responding with “Good.” We sat for a few moments enjoying the aroma of the coffee and I decided to press a little more. I sat back, looked at him and asked, “No, really, how are you doing?” The long pause made the moment tense and uncomfortable. He turned and said, “I’m not okay.“ His heart was troubled because his 7-year marriage was falling apart and he was struggling to keep up at his job. He managed to find someone to talk to, but it was another woman rather than his wife. Seeing his hurt, we knelt down and prayed for repentance and wisdom.
We can get to the dangers of sin in a moment, but the key point here is accountability. The Bible talks about the relationship between Peter and Jesus in John 18 and 21. Real friendship considers the heart. Take Peter and Jesus for example. After Jesus gets taken away from the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter denied knowing Jesus. (John 18). At a time when Jesus needed a friend the most, Peter left him hanging. Despite the fact Peter messed up, Jesus still knew the heart of Peter. Take the example of David and God. David was an adulterer and murderer, and as sinful as his actions were, it went back to the heart. In relationships, it’s important to know the heart of your friend. A heart connection is what helps you build. That was the difference between the servanthood of David and Saul. Regardless of the sin in his life, he needed accountability. When Jesus came back, he still held Peter accountable for the sheep. Friendships require accountability.
We often forget this is a two-way street. You never understand how someone is internalizing or processing the events that are happening in his life. Not every friendship should be so casual that you do not hold yourself accountable for your friend’s well-being. If we fail to cover our brother or sister, we leave them exposed to distresses and a lingering of despair. Indwelling sin breeds helplessness and loss.
When accountability partners are absent, friendships get destroyed. Real friends re-energize one another. Holding one another accountable requires confession, prayer, and encouragement. The Greek word for accountable or accountability is hupodikos [(hoop-od’-ee-kos)]. This word is a combination of the Greek words hupo (hoop-o’) and dike (dee’-kay.) which means “to be brought to trial, answerable to, liable to (brought under) the judgment of” and implies for someone to come under the authority of someone else correctly. So when you agree to have an accountability partner, it means you submit to the process of making yourself vulnerable and susceptible to their judgment.
The Bible says, “Confess your sins to one another…that you might be healed.” (James 5:16) James is telling us to intercede for one another to get the attention of the Lord Himself. The other side is that confession brings a release. The accountability partner holds the real pressure because he agrees to show support during times of struggle as well as be loving and dependable.
If you have a friend who appears to be stressed would you be willing to lift him up?