James 5:16a KJV
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
I am so glad James brings this up in his letter because it’s an area where many of us fall short, I believe. Personal accountability is sorely lacking in our churches, and especially among church leaders. Why do we see so many Christian leaders fall into sin? Why are there so many divorces in the church? Why are our churches slowly getting smaller and less effective in ministry? I think it is because of a lack of accountability, especially in men of the church.
I am guilty of not being as accountable to someone else as I should be, and I know many of my friends are in the same boat. It’s easy to have those light conversations about sports, the weather and politics. I could do that all day. Then I have a few people who I can talk to about God, the word, and the things I am learning in Christ from day to day. But to talk about areas where I struggle, where I can “confess my faults” to another man, or group of men, is difficult. I do share things with my wife when I struggle, but I truly need an accountability partner to come alongside for help and for prayer. That is when the healing begins.
I have just completed a chapter in a book entitled “Man in the Mirror” on accountability (God’s timing is always perfect). This chapter discusses how to get started and what to watch for as you develop an accountability relationship with another person. I found it very helpful, and I suggest if anyone wants to get this started for themselves that you get this book. It is readily available on Amazon. Some of the thoughts I am going to express come from this book.
The reason most men shy away from accountability is that we want to make it on our own, solve our own problems and be self-made men. The problem with this is that it doesn’t work! We men are usually proud and stubborn, and will not take the deep look at ourselves needed to correct our faults. Nor will we truly allow God to search us and listen while He tells us the wicked ways that are in us (Psalm 139:23-24). We will stay on the surface in all our relationships as much as possible, including our marriages. As long as we do this pride will always be an issue.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned in recent years is that my wife is the best accountability partner I can have. For years, she had told me I was full of pride, while I thought I was humble. I took a big fall, as the bible promised I would, because of my pride (Prov 16:18). I went to a place called Pure Life Ministries, and there God revealed my pride to me as only He can. When I returned home 8 months later, I told my wife I was sorry and asked her forgiveness. I then gave her permission to tell me anytime she saw my pride rising up again. Believe me when I tell you that she does this faithfully and I am so glad! If you are married, listen to your wife – she knows you better than anyone except God. And God will use her to teach you His ways. If you are not married I pray you will find a person that will hold you accountable on a regular basis.
What type of relationship should this be? Completely honest and open. The book has a card in it with questions that can be asked as you go through your accountability session. It is imperative you have a regular schedule of meetings, not just hit and miss. You must be ready to ask and answer these questions of each other to truly get deep into an accountable relationship. You can see what this card looks like and the questions he suggests HERE
When we are accountable, our prayers for one another are much more powerful. There is a bond formed between us that God is pleased with, and He sees we truly mean business. James says that when we confess our faults to one other and then pray for one another, we will be healed. He is not talking about just physical healing from sickness, but healing from anything that stands in our way of serving God fully. Isn’t this what we all want?
I pray each one reading this post will seek out an accountability relationship if you don’t already have one. Then get to know each other well enough to go deep. Meet on a scheduled basis, weekly if possible. This takes time and is risky, but it is worth the effort. You will grow so much in Christ if you can make this work.
The second half of verse 16 will be discussed tomorrow.