Accountability Partner – The Spirit
At a company I use to work for, there was a period where gossip was a problem. I tried to keep my distance, but sometimes I got lured in for that’s the nature of the beast. (And as I’ve learned giving a listening ear to gossipers is the same as being one). A co-worker tried to hold me accountable to resisting the gibberish. The office was small so it was easy to see just about anyone from any vantage point. When the clacking hens starting gathering to exploit the latest drama, my friend gave me a look that I knew right away – run! I did.
As believers, we can help each other from certain pit falls, like my friend helped me. HOWEVER, we are really accountable to God, not to one another. Thus, we need to be pursuing another dimension of accountability – listening to the Holy Spirit’s counsel. He holds us accountable to a level we can’t get from others, because He is within us and His will of what is right for us is different and beyond any others.
If we are listening, we will hear His voice of instruction at a wandering thought before we act on it. Ever since I’ve been cultivating listening to Him, the accountability has been extensive. I never realized just how much “course correction” I needed. But, He speaks with such love and mercy that all I feel is encouragement and motivation to heed His wise counsel. When accountability comes from Him, it’s never about guilt but truth and love.
Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
As I read this verse, I thought about how “reproofs of instruction” are a way of life for me in two senses.
One, I’m constantly receiving reproofs of instruction from the Holy Spirit. A wrong thought pops in my head, an irrational fear, or an outward temptation comes my way and He is there calling attention to it. He reframes, refocuses, and refines and keeps me headed in the right direction. I’m thankful for His corrections in my life, yet reading this verse is a great comfort, because I get them all the time. Now that I know it’s a way of life I feel better. I was beginning to wonder.
Being corrected by the Holy Spirit isn’t a phase we will grow out of but a way of life as long as we are in the flesh bodies. We are constantly battling ourselves who are like wandering sheep. 1 Peter 5:8 The Spirit helps us to navigate those roiling waters.
Our journey here with God isn’t about walking perfectly. It’s about listening and acting on the counsel that keeps us walking on the “paths of righteousness”. It’s much easier to nip something in the bud, rather than try to remedy the ramifications later. The best time to stop a wayward step is when it starts as a thought. For this reason, the Holy Spirit who dwells in us is the best accountability partner we will ever have.
When we talk about accountability we often are referring to someone on the outside. However, true accountability comes from the Holy Spirit for we are accountable to God. The Spirit resides within us and if we listen He is able to keep us from acting on those wayward thoughts. Sure there many times we act so quick there isn’t much time to stop the thought before it becomes a reality, but if we are listening the Spirit is swift to redirect us.
The second meaning of reproofs of instruction is the way of life is that the Spirit’s instruction leads to life, true life. When we heed the Spirit’s instruction we abide in what is love, constructive, wise, and purposeful. At any one time, our thoughts are either coming from God’s truth or the lies of the world. When we are listening and following the Spirit’s instruction we remain in the wisdom that is from above that brings abundant life. It’s for our best to take heed to the Spirit’s counsel in our lives. God desires abundant life for us, if we are listening and following His voice that is where He will lead us.
Gaining the Ear to Hear the Spirit
How do you get an “ear” for the Spirit’s voice? By abiding in God’s Word. In His Word you develop an understanding of what His voice sounds like, so that you can discern it from the others. Otherwise, you won’t know the nature of His voice. It’s like sensing the “voice” of a particular author. They have a certain character, style, and sound that distinguishes them from others. As you read their works, you learn to differentiate them by their unique “voice”. When you abide in God’s Word you learn to recognize His voice. There are MANY copycats to His voice, so it’s critical to learn what is truly His.
Next, you get an “ear” by practicing listening. During your quiet time where there is stillness and quiet, try to listen during your prayers. Most of us are so busy talking but not listening, one of the most important parts of prayer. In addition to listening in the Word and in prayer, set time aside at the end of your quiet time to be still and listen. This practice has had a substantial impact on my life. I’m much more sensitive and in tune with the Spirit’s voice. Though I have a long way to go, it has made a significant difference. It’s having the most qualified counselor constantly by my side.
Finally, take time to be still before each major task during the day to pray and listen. Eventually, you will form a habit of listening throughout the day.
I encourage you to take time each day seeking to hear His voice – it will change your life. In listening, you are drawing closer to God, who loves abounds toward you and wants your very best. He wants to lead and help you on that path to abundant life, but you have to take time to listen so you can follow Him.
Proverbs 10:17 He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.