Question: I just started an accountability group and I was wondering if you could tell me where to look in the bible for information on proper accountability.
Answer: It’s pretty hard to find a place in Scripture that talks about accountability per se. Rather, there are principles derived from the Bible that help us think about it. For example, when Paul was raising an offering for the financial relief of the Jerusalem church, he made sure that he had several men travel with him from church to church to collect that offering, men whom the churches knew and trusted (2 Corinthians 8:16-21). He was going to great lengths to maintain accountability for his actions with the money. Temptation can get to anyone and even if it didn’t, others might still raise questions.
We are also taught in Scripture that we are to confess our sins to one another and so find healing (James 5:16). But we know from Jesus’ teaching about confronting a brother or sister who has sinned against you, that you are to first try to resolve it between just the two of you (Matthew 18:15). This suggests that indiscriminate confession of sin to any and everybody in the church is not the best policy. You need to do that in a context of safety and understanding. That is why it is usually best to have a group of believers with whom you can be honest and trust that they will care for you.
Accountability groups are only as effective as you make them. You must choose to be real and open, because it is our tendency to continue hiding. Talk to your group about establishing a core of questions you commit to ask each other each time you meet so that you will find it harder to wiggle out of being accountable.