It is amazing how often we see the words “others” or “one another” in the New Testament. The more you see something repeated in the Bible, the more you should pay attention. Let me give you a sampling…
LOVE one another (John 13:34)
PRAY FOR one another (James 5:16)
EDIFY one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
PREFER one another (Romans 12:10)
SHOW HOSPITALITY TO one another (1 Peter 4:9)
ENCOURAGE one another (Hebrews 10:25)
I would like to focus on another instance that we find in Galatians 6:1-5. Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
This passage of Scripture describes being accountable for one another. We are much more familiar with loving, praying, edifying, preferring, showing hospitality to, and encouraging one another than we are being accountable for one another. I think we are so unfamiliar with it that we may not even know what it means.
When we hear the word “accountable”, most of us have a negative reaction. We get the idea of being scolded for doing something wrong, but this is not what Paul is describing in Galatians. In this passage, Paul describes three ways we ought to hold each other accountable in the church.
The first way is through restoration. We all are fighting sin and will get caught in sin. It is a fact of life. We are obligated to restore our brothers and sisters who are struggling in sin. Like resetting a broken bone, we come alongside one another and gently speak the truth, guide one another back to the Word and the path of righteousness.
The second way we are accountable for one another is to help carry each other’s burdens. Burdens are different than sins. Burdens are moments in life that rob us of joy like depression, stress, doubt, and anger. Motivated by the love of Christ, we are to not allow each other to walk through these tough seasons of life alone. We should be there to help encourage one another and lighten the load.
The final way we are called to be accountable in this passage is to ourselves. We are each expected to carry our own load. It is easy to become a spiritual leech sometimes. It is easy to always expect others to help us in our crisis, and come to our rescue, but there is an absolute call here to be accountable to ourselves as well. When things are tough or we have sinned, it is a wonderful thing to have fellow Christians to lean on, but we are also supposed to take account for ourselves and pursue the Lord individually.
Who has God placed around you that you could love in this way? Who has he called you to “account” for?