Have you realized that behavior that is observed is different than if not observed? Children play and perform chores differently when they know parents are watching. Sometimes I hear my children singing or talking to one another and if I enter the room/they see me, then they stop. Employees also often increase productivity when they sense or know their employer/supervisor is giving extra attention. Individuals will alter their behavior if they are accountable to a counselor or pastor or trusted group of friends. Likewise, if we believe we are unobserved, our behavior has the potential to make choices with little thought of consequences.
When it comes to accountability, we mostly demand accountability of others but insist on privacy for ourselves. We live in a day where few invite personal accountability. We are more prone to “passing the buck”, raising defenses, rationalizing and justifying our actions. The standards we seek in others are the very measurements we minimize on our own. Unfortunately, evaluation has become a time to deflect rather than reflect.
My face in the mirror
Isn’t wrinkled or drawn.
My house isn’t dirty,
The cobwebs are gone.
My garden looks lovely
And so does my lawn.
I think I might never
Put my glasses back on.
In Luke 19, Jesus tells a parable that should remind us accountability is unavoidable, it is not optional. God is aware and attentive to every area of our lives and we will be held accountable.
Proverbs 10:4 “In the pride of his anger the wicked says ‘He will not call to account’ [‘There is no accountability’]; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’”
Paul says, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2Cor 5:9-10)
There will come a day when we all will encounter accountability standing before a holy God. We must be ready. Jesus’ parable gives us principles to stay ready for such an accounting.
“As they heard these things…” Luke is referring to people who do not understand Jesus’ call for repentance of self-righteousness and faith in Him as their substitutionary Savior. And yet, Jesus continues to move toward Jerusalem with focused determination to provide salvation and to seek & save the lost (19:10). Further, some assumed Jesus’ destination to Jerusalem would be to overthrow Rome and establish His kingdom. Jesus’ kingdom would be different in that though He is king, His kingdom was not of this world. The present life prepares for the next in eternity.
So, Jesus tells this parable to make people ready for eternity. Remember, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning to teach us big truths concerning God and His kingdom.
Accountability means the present matters (19:12-15).
Jesus tells the parable of a nobleman leaving his kingdom to a far country to receive and advance his kingdom. The reference to a far/distant country shows his return would take ample time. Of course, Jesus is the nobleman who left Heaven to earth. Notice that the citizens of the far country rejected the nobleman (“we do not want this man to reign over us” v.14) and yet he still takes ownership of this new kingdom. Jesus may be rejected on earth but that does not deny His power and reign.
Note: There are numerous circumstances, events and people that go against God’s design and will but that does not mean God is not in charge or He does not care. It simply means that God is patient. Peter says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness” (2Peter 3:9-11) In other words, God is patient with human rejection but do not mistake His patience with impotence.
ð “Now” matters. Stop saying, “I will obey God when…” *I get older; *I get a better job or salary; *I am married; *I am not enduring difficulty, etc. Be present in the now.
- Wherever you are, that’s your present. And that’s the place God is seeking your faithfulness.
Accountability means growth matters (19:16-23)
The nobleman leaves but gives 10 servants a mina. A mina was worth a hundred drachmas, which a drachma was worth a day’s wages; so about 3 months wages. The median income of Severna Park is over $100K; so a mina in our day would be worth almost $25K. The command and task was for the servants to continue the nobleman’s work – “engage in business (buy/trade) until I come”
The first servant gained 1000% interest – earning 10 minas or $250K. The second servant made 500% interest or in our day $125K. Each of these servants received the same response by the nobleman, “Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in little you shall have more.” The servants were commended for progressing, multiplying, reproducing and improving the nobleman’s resources.
Notice: That the servants who receive the commendation get more reward and service. The reward of the faithful servants is not just more mina’s but management over cities. There is work and activity to do even after the reward of the master! Heaven will be a place of activity and service for the Lord.
Another servant came to the nobleman saying he did not progress or improve the original investment. The nobleman gave clear instructions – engage in business (trade). Yet, this servant did nothing. His treasure was on earth without investment for eternity. He kept everything hidden in a handkerchief. He gave no addition or advancement of the resources. Ultimately, he failed because he was afraid to risk. And he was condemned for it.
ð Jesus has work for His followers to do. They each have been given an allotment of resources – time, talents and treasures – to use for the furtherance of His kingdom.
1Peter 4:10-11 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…[use your gift] that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
ð God is not looking for equal giving of time, talents and treasure but equal commitment. In other words, when it comes to Time, Talents & Treasure: every person has varying amounts depending on their gifts and circumstances. Some work full time outside the home while others quadruple time inside the home. Some are retired and some are under or unemployed. Yet, every believer is called to be equally committed to the glory of God (1Cor 10:31).
à Are you fully committed to God or are you afraid to go all in?
à Sometimes the believer is called to take a risk. We live by faith not sight.
John Piper on the tragedy of not risking for the Kingdom of God:
“I tell you what a tragedy is. I’ll read to you from Reader’s Digest (Feb. 2000, p. 98) what a tragedy is:
‘Bob and Penny… took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.’
The American Dream: come to the end of your life – your one and only life – and let the last great work before you give an account to your Creator, be “I collected shells. See my shells.” THAT is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. And I get forty minutes to plead with you: don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life. It is so short and so precious… ‘Only one life, twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/boasting-only-in-the-cross
Risk for the kingdom of God. Reproduce the resources God has given you/us so that we can hear the words, “Well done good servant!”
Accountability means judgment matters (19:24-27).
The nobleman took the mina from the unfaithful servant and gave it to the one who was rewarded with 10. Others were jealous and perhaps considered this unfair. Yet, Jesus explains that only the faithful will receive more reward, the unfaithful will lose their reward.
Further, those who rejected the nobleman/Jesus will be led to the slaughter. The word picture is that they were like sheep who fattened themselves on the way to their doom; or like the wealthy who hoarded money only to enter the next life with nothing.
– Compare contemporary thinking that “he who dies with most toys wins” vs “no uhaul behind a hearse”
ð Judgment and accountability is coming for everyone.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness” (2Peter 3:10-11)
µ Are you faithful with what God has given?
µ What risk in earthly eyes is God waiting for you to take for eternal earnings?
µ Is Jesus your king?