November 2015 Final Issue
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Accountability Brings Clarity

My husband, Pat, has carried a pedometer in his pocket for years, and once I saw the commercial for the Fitbit fitness tracker, I decided it might make a great birthday gift for the guy who isn’t always easy to buy for. It became a hit. A few weeks later, our daughter was wearing one, and shortly thereafter, her husband had his. Because we share a house, most evenings I listened as they compared the number of steps they each registered for the day. Steps, miles, and stairs became regular dinnertime conversation in our home, with 10,000 steps as the daily goal. I was content to listen as they teased and challenged one another, knowing that while I may not get 10,000 steps a day, surely I was close; after all, I spend many days chasing little ones. To my surprise, on Mother’s Day, I reached into a gift bag and pulled out my very own Fitbit. I set up my account, downloaded the app, and added a few friends. I then confidently went about my daily routine, eager to join the conversation with the others at the dinner table. My confidence was short-lived, however, as we gathered together. Disappointment and disbelief took over as my tracker revealed that my daily routine hadn’t produced the number of steps I had anticipated. The reality was that I was far short of the 10,000-step goal … by thousands. For months I had listened and assured myself that while I knew I could not surpass them, I was, at the very least, keeping up. Reality hit hard when I saw the number of steps I actually took compared to what I thought I was taking, and that accountability brought me clarity. While it was painful to admit, the clarity helped me acknowledge that I had an inaccurate perception of the truth. Accountability isn’t a new thing, but it sure can be a hard thing. At times, it can be as unpleasant as swallowing a spoonful of bitter medicine if we fail to appreciate the benefits. When I was a child and needed medicine, my mom had a difficult time getting me to take it—I hated the bitter taste—so she would place an aspirin on a spoon and crush it with the back of another spoon. Then she added a little sugar and a few drops of water to make it easier to swallow. Now, I knew the medicine was on that spoon, and it was going to be bitter, but I also knew the sugar took away some of that bitterness. As I grew, I eventually began to understand what was on the spoon would benefit me, so my protests became fewer. In the same way, while I know the value behind its purpose, accountability can hold some bitter right along with the sweet. I’ve decided that one reason I taste the bitter before the sweet might be because accountability requires so much humility. When my words, attitudes, thoughts, and actions fail to represent Christ, and God challenges me to give an account without pointing the finger of blame at others, humility must take over, or pride will fight for its right to be heard. The Lord uses accountability to bring clarity in our lives so we don’t forsake His ways or dishonor His name. God has been holding His children accountable from the day Adam and Eve decided to take a bite of the fruit He had forbidden. This is when the very first finger-pointing-of-blame between a husband and wife took place. When God asked, “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” and Adam answered, “It was the woman you gave me…” while Eve took aim at the snake (Genesis 3:11-13, NLT). They experienced the bitter taste of accountability when they were removed from the Garden for overstepping the boundaries God had given them. The sweet came, as the Lord never removed Himself from their lives. They suffered the consequences of disobedience, but He provided clothing for them before He sent them out (Genesis 3:21-24). Moses felt the bitter when he was held accountable for his deviation from the Lord’s instruction after he was told to speak to the rock for water and he struck the rock, not once, but twice, instead. This act displeased the Lord enough that it kept him out of the Promised Land, the land he had spent 40 years endeavoring to reach (Numbers 20). The sweet came as the Lord continued to use Moses and allowed him to stand atop a mountain and sneak a peek at the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:4). Within the pages of the Bible, we can discover examples of those who were held accountable for their displeasing actions toward God: Saul was rejected as King (1 Samuel 15:10), Cain became a “fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth” after he killed his brother (Genesis 4:10, NKJV), and Israel was led away into Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 25). God uses accountability to bring clarity to our sin. David and his misstep with Bathsheba offer a great lesson on accountability, specifically the need for it and the correct way to receive it. The story, found in 2 Samuel 11, begins by explaining it was “spring at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army” (2 Samuel 11:1, NIV). The kings were at war – well, all but one. David was at home. One night, he found himself wandering the rooftop, and he saw Bathsheba bathing, which led him to seek her identity. While her husband was at war, Bathsheba was brought to the King’s house where he slept with her, impregnated her, and then devised a cover-up by bringing her husband, Uriah, home from war in the hopes he would sleep with his wife. When David’s plan failed, he had Uriah placed at the front line of battle where he would be killed. Following the proper mourning time, David then took Bathsheba as his wife. Whew. Sounds like a soap opera plot, but it’s actually a hiccup in the life of David, the man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:26b, NIV). The Lord sent a prophet, Nathan, to let David know he would be accountable for his actions. David found himself in a pickle because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be; he should have been at war with the other kings (2 Samuel 11:1). We can protect ourselves by protecting our whereabouts. We must be cautious where and with whom we spend our time. Don’t put yourself in situations that may lead down a path God never intended because you aren’t where you should be. Be accountable to be where you ought to be. One look was all it took for David to be hooked on wanting what wasn’t his to have. With his top men off in battle, was there no one willing to challenge his thinking? He had been told she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite; had not one person questioned his integrity in taking another man’s wife? Or was he surrounded by “yes men” too afraid to challenge the King? I’ve heard it said, “If you’re the smartest person in your group, then you need a new group.” Safeguard yourself by shielding your eyes, guarding your mind, and surrounding yourself with friends who love you enough to speak truth according to the Word of God. Sent by the Lord, the prophet Nathan confronted David using a story of two men – one rich, one poor – and a little lamb. When Nathan was finished, David offered no finger-pointing-of-blame, not one “but I –” or “you don’t understand.” He simply said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13, NIV), and then a cry for mercy poured from his heart (which would eventually become Psalm 51). He began, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2, NIV). David tasted the bitterness through the death of his son and a mighty mess in his family, but he also embraced the sweet taste of forgiveness and the birth of Solomon. Nathan’s accountability brought clarity to a king who had overstepped his boundaries, but David found restoration and cleansing when he accepted the Lord’s correction from the lips of the prophet. When we overstep God’s boundaries, we are wise to listen to the voice God uses to bring clarity through accountability. As long as I wear it, my Fitbit and my Fitbit friends will hold me accountable for each physical step I take. They see my daily activity and can cheer me on when I do well or give a little nudge if I slack off. Spiritual steps are equally as important because “nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable” (Hebrews 4:13, NLT). If we are to live The Kingdom Life now, we must value the protection accountability offers. We may taste the bitter before we enjoy the sweet but learn to appreciate the benefit because… Accountability – willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions,  Brings cause (something) to exist, happen, or start Clarity – the quality or state of being clear (merriam-webster.com)
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About Kolleen Lucariello

Kolleen Lucariello
Kolleen Lucariello is the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. She shares her struggle with identity Authentically, Bravely, and yet with Compassion and humor. You can connect with Kolleen on Twitter and through Facebook. You may also visit her website at www.speakkolleen.com

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