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.
May 24, 2010 at 10:02 pm
Let those with ears to hear, listen to what the spirit has to say. We must stay close to the word of God in prayer. God will see you through, He will never leave you nor forsake you. Let love have it’s way in Christ Jesus. Great post. We need more insight in handling evil. Let our hearts and minds stay focused on the Lord of our salvation. God Bless you always.
May 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm
Hi Dr. Lee – thanks for your words of encouragement – always good to hear from you.
May 25, 2010 at 12:23 am
This post is such a blessing Rachel.
The other week we decided to visit a church, only to hear the preacher constantly ask his people, “Do you know Him (the Lord)?”
But he didn’t tell them how. Not at any point in 40 minutes, did tell he them how to know & discern the voice of the Spirit. Very religious, but not very real.
May 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm
Hi Roger, you know that is a great point – I too often hear speakers/leaders/pastors talking about getting to know God but never really say now – isn’t that interesting? A lot of empty talk. Thanks for stopping by!
May 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm
LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!! clacking hens hahahaha men are bad too! But women are the world champions at gossip
May 26, 2010 at 1:23 am
John – I know it is true.
May 25, 2010 at 9:41 pm
This is a truly beautiful post. I truly felt the Spirit talking to me through your words. It’s so simple: reading/meditating/thirsting for God through His Word, and then resting/listening in silence. It’s very easy to do, yet we often find ‘other things’ that distract us from this feast.
May 26, 2010 at 1:21 am
Hi Steve – you are right – pretty straight forward yet it is amazing how much stuff tries to get in the way!
May 27, 2010 at 6:00 am
How many times have I disregarded the Spirit’s voice? I’ve had that niggling doubt — that “check” in my spirit many times and ignored it for whatever reason. I’ve always bitterly regretted that moment of inattention and/or rebellion.
By the grace of God, I’m getting better at noticing His voice when He warns me. Often it’s my tendency to ignore the warning because I think it’s just my own discomfort. Sometimes that’s the case, but I’ve learned that I’d better examine it and be sure. Not listening to Him is always bad news.
Thanks for the exhortation, Rachel!
May 28, 2010 at 4:37 pm
Hi Cindy – isn’t crazy how we can hear His voice and chose not to listen? Just the other day there were several times I heard His voice telling me to do or not to do and I didn’t listen!! My rebellion in the moment astounds me – it is truly doing what I don’t want to do as Paul said. But at the same time I feel His mercy, comfort and patience encouraging me to keep pressing forward. But like all things this listening and FOLLOWING is a journey of growth, letting go, trusting and yielding to His perfect will.
May 29, 2010 at 9:19 pm
What a wonderful word this,getting to know God better to hear him clearly!!! The “Most Qualified Counselor is The Holy Spirit”,how very true this is,I totally enjoyed the read.Have a lovely evening and a safe & fun memorial day.
May 30, 2010 at 5:12 pm
Hi Pat – it is truly amazing isn’t it? how we have such an amazing counselor always with us – what a tremendous gift.
May 31, 2010 at 7:28 pm
Hi Rachel, your post really got me thinking. We need to listen for the counsel of God’s Spirit more than ever before. As the days grow dark and the truth is exchanged for a lie, we need to LISTEN to God as he guides us on the path we are on. The enemy is geared up to deceive believers so we need to heed the wisdom and discernment that God gives those who seek him.
May 31, 2010 at 9:58 pm
Hi Marianne – thanks for stopping by and sharing a very insightful point. What you said is so true and very important for believers to really understand. There are so many lies coming at us in all directions – we need to really be tuning into God so that we continue to walk down His paths and not the enemy’s.
June 1, 2010 at 1:23 am
This was a blessing. I appreciated it; it was right on time for me. I was very impressed.
There was one thing I didn’t like your wording on: 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”
Yet if we go with the thought of your article we will walk perfectly, not without human error, like you might drop something you were carrying or think something was blue when it was really dark green, but without sinning or any evil intent, because the Spirit cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness. Anything that’s not right and Paul also said, Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16
Sometimes the word perfection is scary, but that just means without sin or malice; thus Christ said, Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Other than that I was very impressed and blessed by it.
June 4, 2010 at 12:20 am
Called Soliders – thanks so much for your comment . . . I do see your point here and perhaps thats not the right word choice because in Christ we are complete and perfect before God – it is the greatest and most incredible gift.
June 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm
Thanks Rachel for all of your wonderful insights and instructions concerning to get to know God better. I have had the same issue that you guys have had. I have read various books concerning knowing God better but they never give you anything. Not even a place to start and I am like maybe these people don’t know God either, truly aggravating! I bless the day God led me here, He knew what my heart was looking for but had no clue as how to get started. I read the word, love reading the word and I pray the best I know how but I felt that I was missing structure if you know what I mean, I was all over the place.
God Bless You!
June 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm
Hi Carol – thanks for your comment . . I think we often make it too difficult when seeking God is like our other relationships, in a sense, we talk and we listen. We read His Word to hear His heart and to get to know Him on a deeper level and we share ours. At first it can feel “barren” (and that can be the hard part) but if we continue faithfully then an incredible ongoing conversation will develop, intimacy will grow, and we will start to experience more of God in our lives. Developing this REAL relationship isn’t an instant process in my experience. The hard part is sometimes we don’t “feel” God is there, we don’t “feel” we are connecting or understanding . . . but He is always there for His children. We have to trust Him at His Word and we can because He is always faithful. It is a process and a journey no doubt. It is unlike anything I expected. But there in lies some of the problem too – our expectations. We expect God to be and act a certain way in our life – instead of trusting that how He is relating to us at any given moment is perfect for us and our relationship with Him. Instead of letting God be God and seeking Him as He is. I’ll be praying for your journey this week 🙂