The Rule of Accountability

Hope for Today (English)
Hope for Today (English)
The Rule of Accountability
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1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Too many people delight in avoiding responsibility. “Don’t blame me. It’s not my fault,” or “I will take responsibility for myself, never mind.” It seems to be engrained in the human personality.

If you are acquainted with the Bible at all, you know that in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the account is given of Eve and Adam disobeying God and their responses when He faced them with their responsibility. Adam blamed his wife, Eve. She blamed the serpent. Thus it is engrained in human personality to avoid accountability.

There is another example in the Bible. When the children of Israel were encamped at Mt. Sinai and Moses went up on the mountain, they worshiped a golden calf. Now we may wonder, Where did that golden calf come from? Well, Aaron, Moses’ brother, had asked the people to bring their gold earrings and all their gold jewelry to him. Then he made a calf out of the gold, and they worshipped it. But when Moses came down off the mountain, Aaron would not take the responsibility that was rightfully his. “Well,” he said, “you know how these people are, Moses.” Aaron refused to be accountable for what had happened (see Exodus 32).

“Accountability” means to be responsible. There is another Bible example. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, David thought he had it all hidden very neatly, but the prophet Nathan came and exposed his sin. The prophet spoke just four words: “Thou art the man” (II Samuel 12:7). In other words, “You are responsible. You, King David, are accountable.”

Let’s consider THE RULE OF ACCOUNTABILITY. In I Corinthians 4:1-5 the apostle Paul wrote some very decisive words about accountability:

1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of a man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

From these verses, I affirm that accountability brings us face to face with several PREROGATIVES of God that we must consider.

The first prerogative is:

THE INSCRUTABLE MYSTERIES OF GOD

1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Ministers preachers and pastors are especially vulnerable. They are to be leaders in the church. They are to be, as the apostle says, “stewards of the mysteries of God.”

A steward in Bible days was a commissioned servant. He was not the owner; he was the manager. Perhaps Joseph in Egypt is the clearest example of the biblical concept of a faithful steward. When he made Joseph a steward of his household, Pharaoh put everything into Joseph’s hands. He ran the country, so to speak. The only difference was Pharaoh occupied the throne. So stewards are required to be faithful. That is what the apostle says in verse 2: “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

But I am concentrating on the inscrutable mysteries of God. Ministers are singly subject to winds of thought. Theology seems to shift from one generation to another. In fact, sometimes it shifts dramatically in only a half-generation! Reason takes priority over faith. It is a conflict of long-standing. Ministers are to stand in defense of the Word of God, but sometimes ministers stand in the denigration of the Word of God.

I remember hearing once of a young man who thought he was very intelligent, and he said to his friend, “I believe nothing I cannot see.” In other words, he had to bring everything within the realm of the five senses. So his friend asked him, “Do you have any brains?” Ha, you see, he could not see his brains, so how did he know he had them? Thus we have the inscrutable mysteries of God.

The apostle Paul writing to the Ephesians mentioned this in a very graphic way. Look at Ephesians 3:1-7:

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words. Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partaker’s of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

I am talking about the inscrutable mysteries of God, which are not knowable except as God may reveal them to us.

The apostle Paul, in Romans 11:33-36, puts it exactly the way I have been talking:

Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever.

So the first prerogative of the rule of accountability is the inscrutable mysteries of God.

The second prerogative is:

THE INVINCIBLE MIND OF GOD

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of a man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

We are very much aware that our minds are limited. We may often wish we knew more than we do. We wish we had a broader understanding of a particular subject that we may be wrestling with. We must all agree that not all the facts are in.

Evolutionists following Darwin argue that life sprang into existence from the prehistoric slime, a little ameba, a one-celled animal that came to life. Nobody knows how, nobody knows why, and nobody knows when. It is all a theory of chance.

In the fossil record we know, from those who have studied it, that there are no transitional forms from one species to another. And yet the evolutionists argue “according to the fact,” but there are no facts. It is all supposition. It is all conjecture. They cannot consider all the facts because they do not have all the facts in hand, and all the facts are not available. So they can never be sure.

I also found that personal thought shields itself. We often take the position of a victim of circumstances. We say, “Well, you see if you had been in the same situation I was in, you would have responded the same way I did.” We are fickle-minded. But that is not true of God.

In fact, the apostle Paul, talking about that, says of himself, “I know nothing of myself, yet am I not hereby justified.” The real difficulty is personal thought shields itself. Even though I can lay no charge against myself, I am not justified thereby. I must deal with this prerogative of God, the invincible mind of God. That means God never changes His mind. He is always the same. The Bible presents Him as the God for everybody. He is the universal God. He is the supreme God.

God always deals in terms of truth. Ponder what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 2:1-2:

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

Do you understand? The mind of God is invincible. He never changes. That was what the prophet Malachi said in Malachi 3:6: “I am the Lord, I change not.” So the second prerogative we face in terms of accountability is that the mind of God is invincible. He never, never changes His mind.

The third prerogative is:

THE IMPECCABLE METHOD OF GOD

5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

The apostle Paul’s time is set. He warns us to judge nothing before the time. God has a calendar, you know, a calendar that He is following. Where we are on God’s calendar, I don’t know. But I know this, we are exactly where we are supposed to be because God has a calendar, and He is working it. I notice the apostle Paul suggests that the calendar has some connection with the coming of the Lord Jesus.

Notice the first clause in verse 5: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come.” The word “until” sets a particular time frame. It is connected. God’s impeccable method is connected to the return of the Lord. That is no question in Paul’s mind. He is sure that the Lord is coming again. “Until the Lord come.”

The impeccable method of God will disclose every deed. Look again at verse 5: “who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” The Bible teaches us very clearly that nothing can be hidden from the gaze of God. “Everything is open and naked before Him with whom we have to do,” the writer of Hebrews tells us (Hebrews 4:13). Here the apostle Paul reminds us that God is going to bring to light every hidden thing. Whatever you think you may have hidden from the eyes of your fellow humans, it is not hidden from God. He will make manifest even the thoughts of the heart.

One time when Jesus was talking to His disciples, He told them that evil thoughts come out of the heart. God is going to open the heart, the innermost subconscious mind of man. There will be some who will attempt to criticize God. They will say, “You weren’t fair with me. You don’t treat me right. I am much better than what you recognize.”

No. There will be no avail. No one will be able to criticize God.

In Matthew 20:1-15, Jesus told the parable of workers in a vineyard. The owner of the vineyard went to the marketplace early in the morning and saw men there idle, so he hired them, hired them for a denarius a day. The King James Version says a penny a day. That was a day’s wages. Then he went out at different times during the day, hired additional laborers, and paid them a penny a day. Finally, the last hour, the eleventh hour, right close to quitting time, he went out and found some more workers, and so he hired them as well and said he would give them what is right.

See how Jesus closed that parable, what He said as He closed it. This is found in Matthew 20:10-15. This is payday now, this is pay hour, you might say.

But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, these last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal with us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

Oh, the impeccable method of God! It is very important for us to consider that the judgment of God is absolutely right.

I want to share with you from another’s writings:

This shall be accompanied by revelation. There are hidden things of darkness that must be brought to light; virtues and vices of which the world has taken little or no note, but which must be brought forward and taken into account, in order to arrive at a just decision and award. There are counsels of the heart to be made manifest; for whilst men necessarily judge by the conduct, God will take into account the secret intentions and motives of those who have labored for him, both good and evil. This will be by a perfect discrimination. The hypocrite shall be distinguished from the sincere, the diligent from the idle, the time-server and men-pleaser from the true servant of God. This will be the occasion of recompense. The case of the utterly unfaithful is left out of view as irrelevant in this connection. But among the faithful, it is presumed that there are degrees of fidelity, and every man shall have his praise from God. This implies that each has a special need (reward) for service, and it also implies that praise shall be accompanied by a substantial and everlasting recompense. It is well, therefore, to work “as ever in the great Taskmaster’s eye,” to avoid judging one’s self, to be indifferent to the partial judgment of men, and to wait for the revelation and the awards of eternity.

Yes, my friend, the judgment of God is absolute.

In our accountability, we are accountable to God. So now we are face to face with these prerogatives of God:

HIS INSCRUTABLE MYSTERIES

Revealed now.

HIS INVINCIBLE MIND

Resolute. He does not change.

HIS IMPECCABLE METHOD

Righteous.

I urge you to evaluate your relation to Him and your accountability before Him.