Summary: Isn't it amazing how quickly we hold others accountable for our problems? Yet personal accountability is what brings us to Jesus Christ.

“Between the Lines: The Value of Accountability”

Romans 3:1-20

Cliff, while flying hot air balloon, realized he was lost. He reduced his altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." The woman below replied, "You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between forty and forty-one degrees north latitude and between fifty-nine and sixty degrees west longitude." "You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?" "Well," answered the balloonist, "Everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea of what to make of your information, and the fact is that I am still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help so far." The woman below responded, "You must be in management." "I am," replied the balloonist. "But how did you know?" "Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have risen where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep. And you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."

Isn’t it amazing how easily and quickly we hold others accountable for our problems? This is not a new phenomenon; it has always been a problem. Even the Apostle Paul addressed it centuries ago when he told the church at Rome there was tremendous value in personal accountability. Let’s begin where Paul begins.

First, there is AN ATTITUDE TO EXAMINE. The first 20 verses of Chapter Three of Romans portray a trial. In chapters 1 & 2 Paul had laid out the case. He demonstrated that sin and evil were rampant in the world, proved that it is due to the fact that people refused to acknowledge God, and then proclaimed that everyone sinned, including Gods people. God, the judge, is now looking at His people, the defendants, asking, “How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?” How would you plead? Very few people claim they do not sin or have not sinned. Rather, today we admit we’ve sinned but WE REFUSE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY for our sin. We’re really just following the example of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When God asked Adam what went wrong, he blamed Eve who, in turn, blamed the serpent. It’s not macho to admit we are wrong; it’s a sign of weakness. After all, in our society it is survival of the fittest. This is why we have image consultants, spin doctors, and public relations firms. We need to look good.So instead of accepting responsibility, we prefer to find excuses; we PLAY THE BLAME GAME. And there are plenty of places to spread the blame. We try to blame THE DEVIL. Remember comedian Flip Wilson? One of his cute, loveable characters always fell back on, “The devil made me do it.” And the Bible, at a quick glance, even seems to support the theory. In Luke 22:3 we read: “Then Satan entered Judas…and (he) went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.” We also blame SOCIETY – “Society forced me.” “Everybody’s doing it.” Sex outside of marriage, tax evasion, drinking, gambling… When a college athletic program is caught cheating, one of the first media and or administrative responses is, “Hey, every college does it, because the rules are terrible.” (They may be but they are still the rules.) Catch the reasoning? Remember how Scripture portrays Pilate condemning Jesus? “Wishing to satisfy the crowd Pilate delivered him up to be crucified.” And then there are the sins of omission, which are really the opposite of “everybody is doing it.” Have you ever said, “I would, but nobody else is doing it?” So we fail to fight pornography, are reluctant to speak for the sanctity of life; after all, we don’t want to be out there all alone! And we blame our ENVIRONMENT. We point to our physical & emotional surroundings - and blame our parents, neighborhood, school, wife or husband. I think of the times when our boys would be fooling around at the dinner table and I’d knock over the milk – and then say, “Now look what you made me do!” And we point to our genetic make up – “It’s the way I am. It’s the way God made me.” So committing adultery because someone has a high sex drive is OK; participating in immoral sex, often between adults and minors or children, is okay because God gave someone those feelings; or abusing someone because a person is just simply born with a bent towards anger is OK. Then, too, we blame the HIERARCHY – “I was just following orders.” So some Enron workers shredded documents, some soldiers slaughtered villages, young people commit murder to gain entrance into gangs, and pledges for fraternities or sororities drink alcohol until they go into a coma and die, and a pitcher throws at batter because the manager “ordered” him to. Some even tend to blame the POLITICAL PARTIES – The left blames the puritanical right for being to rigid and uncaring while the right blames the liberals for being too loose and irresponsible. And some use LANGUAGE as an excuse: we just need to get our terminology right. We say, “It’s really not sin.” Then we rename sin. We only made a ‘mistake’; we ‘goofed’, made an ‘error’. We re-label marriage as ‘partnerships’, or stealing or ‘misappropriation of funds’. We’re not prejudiced but we just have ‘cultural differences’; we do not break the Sabbath but rather ‘spend time with the family’. It’s not adultery but ‘making love’ or ‘going to bed’; it’s not an issue of pornography but of ‘freedom of the press’; it’s not selfishness but ‘rights’. Listen, we can put the label “aspirin” on a bottle of poison but it is still poison.

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