What is Christian Accountability and is a Christian Accountable to Church Leadership?
This post will address the last two words in our word matrix.
WATCH & ACCOUNT
These words supply two characteristics of the man who persuades and leads the christian are revealed in this passage.
Lets review the passage and then discuss.
7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
I have emboldened the verse under consideration. The following posts will address Hebrews 13:17, and a considered review of critical words the apostle uses in exhorting the believers he is writing to.
Following is a matrix of words that need to be considered in understanding the teaching of Hebrews 13, especially verse 17. (See end of study for Strong’s full definitions.)
This next study will incorporate the last two words under consideration, due to both of them describing the christian leader being referred to in this verse
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
As you can see from the context, the first characteristic of the christian leader is that he is “watching”. It is very interesting to me that this term has everything to do with being awake, alert, attentive. Attentive to “your” souls.
Is the “your” plural, that is, is the writer stating that the minister is concerned over the body of believers as a congregation, or is it more personal than that. Could it be that the writer is referring to individuals?
Am I too jaded when I question the watching of men over my soul when they do not even know my name?
How many times have I put myself under a man who has never known what the condition of my soul is, where I am at in my christian journey, whether I understand the gospel, whether I am in sin…..
I do know that there have been times when I was sure the minister was watching over my wallet!
In the future, I would like to address the general topic of a ministers relationship to support, but at this time, suffice it to say, I believe the Word does not give authority of one man over another in the delegation of that man’s gifts or talents.
What is my point?
This verse is describing a man who is giving of himself for the purpose of others. If taken literally, and I assume that it would play out this way, the godly christian minister would actually lose sleep over the condition of those he ministers to. This type of minister would be one I would gladly give deference to, and seek to be easily persuaded by faithful Bible teaching.
The minister in this text is one who will give account of the believers he has ministered amongst to the Lord, at least in the last day. (Could it be that this minister is giving account of those he ministers to during his times with the Lord on a daily basis?)
It is funny to think that many in the church today advocate an accountability to each other to ensure faithfulness to God. This passage, (and the rest of scripture, I believe) does not advocate any type of primary horizontal accountability. Of course we are responsible to love and care for one-another. This is not accountability.
My accountability is to the One who owns me. My Father, not my brothers. Love the brotherhood, Fear God.
In His ministry, did not Jesus persuade the populace, even seeking to make those interested more curious by telling dark sayings and parables? He taught those who wanted to be taught, and lead a life that no man has ever led. He is One who we should gladly hear and obey. He is watching for our souls, and if you have a minister that exhibits these qualities in your life (professional or not) be thankful to the Master for him.