People sometimes use the phrase “throw someone under the bus” when referring to holding friends or loved ones accountable for their actions. I’ve recently heard the term used in circumstances where churches have been reluctant to require legal or other consequences for the immoral or illegal activity of their leadership.
I’ve also heard the phrase used by Christians who don’t want to hurt friends or those they love by causing them to experience the consequences of their actions (lying, cheating, stealing, immorality, abuse, etc).
But what is accountability anyway? Most people think of the word in terms of negative confrontation and discipline. But accountability is a necessity for believers. It’s simply a willingnesss to be transparent and open to questioning, challenging, admonishing, and confession, in order to receive encouragement and growth. The purpose is to help one another grow spiritually.
Scripture is clear that as Christians we are to hold one another accountable.
- Galatians 6:1-2 states that as Christians we are to go to those who are caught in transgressions (sins) and gently restore them. This verse refers to this as lifting a burden from them–an act of kindness toward them–as well as fulfilling God’s law or expectations for us. The word restoration implies action on their part, fixing what was broken. In order to be restored, we must first admit that something was broken–something inside and about us.
Holding one another accountable for our sins is an act of love.
- Matthew 18:15-17 tells us that personal disputes should be resolved face-to-face. If those attempts fail, we should enlist the mediation of Christian friends, and if that’s not successful, we should consult the church or its leaders. In other words, we can’t simply sit back and say, “Confrontation is too hard.” “I don’t feel comfortable doing this.” Restoration is part of family life for Christians.
- James 5:16 says to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” We need one another–to hold each other up so we don’t stumble and get tripped up by sin. Accountability means that we question, challenge, admonish, confess, and encourage each other for love’s sake, not for ourselves.
Not long ago an extended family member came to live in our home. Our relationship had always been strained. I
struggled with the idea of telling them there would be a need for boundaries in our home. No one had ever laid down
boundaries with my loved one before, and I didn’t expect our conversation to be positive. But my desire was
that they grow beyond their constant criticism of others, I would implement consequences if they criticized other
family members, our church, people they didn’t approve of, or our family’s personal choices. I expected the same
standard of conduct expected of other family members. Much to my surprise, after several pouting session, this
loved one complied. The entire balance of our relationship shifted as a result.
“Throwing someone under the bus” is an act of abandonment. Confronting someone in love is an act of mercy done on their behalf. Never in a spirit of pride. Never for one’s personal good. Always for the spiritual benefit of the other and in a spirit of humility and grace.
I thank God for the people who’ve come to me in this place in my life. They snatched me out of the path of the real giant busses that have nearly crushed my soul. I was simply too oblivious to see them.
Thank God for accountability and love and relationships and love that cares enough not to leave us where we are. Just like Jesus.