The Accountability Clause

The path of faith can feel like a tightrope walk.

Teetering on tiptoe, arms spread wide, we balance one foot in front of the other. Our imperfect steps may waver, but each one brings us closer to the finish line.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve taken a few tumbles into the Safety Net, landed on my knees, and confessed the fall. I’ve also rushed across the wire, eyes squeezed shut, just wanting to get the balancing act done. It didn’t matter if it was graceful, I just wanted it over.

And then there were moments when I couldn’t cross alone—there was simply too much weight to carry. Struggling to find leverage my flailing hands were met by those who reeled me into safety and gathered me into arms of love and grace.

There have also been a few performances where I came up against cold stares, crossed arms, and what felt a whole lot like a backwards shove to my doom—followed by a kick while I was down.

All of our tightropes look different, don’t they? We serve the One True God, but we each exercise our faith in unique fashion. Some of us have more curves and edges, but our eternal goal is the same.

And ideally, we’re linking arms to get there.

“I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere…but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. ” Ephesians 4:2-4, 6-7 MSG

If instead of mending fences, we focus on broken planks we will cause irreparable damage.

There is a fine print to our faith that we often clutch too tightly. It’s intricate and delicate, and potentially devastating: the accountability clause.

God intends for us to lift up and support our family [the church]—to raise each other to new heights. Together we are called to bind wounds and bridge gaps. Confess and forgive. Pray and heal. Encourage, exhort, and admonish with gentleness and gracious intent.

If these family duties are not applied in correct context, and with God’s full council, they will wound instead of heal. Rather than stay together we’ll drive each other apart.

When you’re walking your tightrope and instead of cheers you hear the crowd snickering, “You’re doing that all wrong” and “Real faith doesn’t look like that,” it’s enough to make you want to jump.

We cannot claim our wounds can be trusted and then walk away while our family bleeds out.

There is damage that can come when we compare ourselves to others: it steals our joy and robs us of our unique identity in Christ. But there is equal devastation in reverse: comparing others to ourselves.

It’s a slippery slope and a few steps from a big fall when we climb onto pedestals, look down on the people, and dare them to level our heights.

Sometimes we shove when we really ought to reach.

“Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share [bear, endure, carry] their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Make a careful exploration [scrutinize, examine, test] of who you are and the work you have been called to, and then sink yourself into that.”
Galatians 6:3-4 MSG [AMP emphasis added]

Before we hold another accountable to Christ, let’s stand before Him ourselves.

Is our intent to ENCOURAGE others or ELEVATE ourselves?
Do we want to SPEAK TRUTH or BE RIGHT?
Is our motive to bring UNITY or to stir SEPARATION?
Do we want them to do it HIS WAY or OURS?

I’m as guilty as the next sinner of propping myself up on the judgment seat and dolling out my critique. When those slings and arrows were re-directed and I wore the target, I realized just how painful the wounds can be—and I was humbled before God and ever so grateful for His forgiveness of even my “well-intentioned” sins.

“In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”
St. Augustine

Our tightropes simply don’t look the same. And if someone chooses to walk theirs backwards, or left foot first, so long as they’re faith filled steps are in God’s direction, we aren’t entitled to shove them in ours.

May we be the people who listen before we leap, reach rather than shove, and gather our family into arms of grace.


** Linking up with the beautiful blogging communities and the friends of my heart, Holley GerthMeredith BernardKristin Hill Taylor, and Jennifer Dukes Lee.

19 thoughts on “The Accountability Clause

  1. The accountability clause-oh yes. I’ve seen the hurt it can do when not done in the spirit of love or confounds of a relationship. It brings deep divisions and hurt. I think the St. Augustine quote says it all!

    1. I’ve seen that hurt too…you’re right, it really can stray so far from what God intended when we don’t come alongside others in the right way. Thanks for stopping by, Alecia…have a great weekend.

  2. I love the analogy of a tightrope! I have taken quite a few tumbles as well. Beautiful words here, Tiffany. “May we be the people who listen before we leap, reach rather than shove, and gather our family into arms of grace.” AMEN!!

  3. Is our intent to ENCOURAGE others or ELEVATE ourselves?
    Do we want to SPEAK TRUTH or BE RIGHT?
    Is our motive to bring UNITY or to stir SEPARATION?
    Do we want them to do it HIS WAY or OURS?

    Excellent stuff here. I’m printing this out and making an index card out of it. What a great concise set of questions to help evaluate where we are inside. Love this. Thank you.

    1. So glad you found that of value, Melody. Definitely questions that get me thinking – a great motive checklist. Perhaps I need to make that a printable…hmmm. :) So happy you stopped by. Blessings!

  4. “May we be the people who listen before we leap, reach rather than shove, and gather our family into arms of grace.” –> Yes, yes, yes. So much yes to this post, Tiffany. Thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

  5. What a beautiful quote by Augustine. I love that and want to write it down. I also like those 4 questions about standing before Christ ourselves before we seek to hold others accountable. So good. God has been speaking to me for several years now about not judging and criticizing others.

    1. That quote is definitely a keeper – one I’ve returned to many times in my own conversations with the Lord. So glad you visited today, Betsy. I’m always so blessed by your words.

  6. Tiffany, this is a post full of both truth & exhortation done with such grace. Truly something we all need to think on. This right here > “May we be the people who listen before we leap, reach rather than shove, and gather our family into arms of grace.” I want to be one of those people! Grateful for the reminder & for being kept on track. Blessings!

    1. Thank you, Joanne – I’m so glad the grace shined through. I want to be one of the reaching and gathering people too and it’s really something the Lord has been writing on my heart. Glad He keeps us on track. Blessings to you and thank you for visiting me.

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