“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
There’s something about the way God has created us as humans that makes us more responsive when we are accountable to others. We tend not to do as well when we are left to our own motivations. If, however, you throw in some encouragement and accountability, we are more inclined to live up to our commitments.
A great example comes from the life of Jean Nidetch. An article in USA Today last year chronicled her amazing story. Despite an endless string of diets Jean’s waistline continued to expand through her childhood, teenage and young adult years. She tried all sorts of gimmicks and pills, some of which resulted in short-term weight loss. Then she would quickly gain back the pounds she had shed.
Jean never gave up. In 1961 Jean, age 38, joined a dieting group sponsored by the New York City Board of Health. She started off great. Ten weeks into the program she had lost 20 pounds … but her motivation was waning. Jean came to the realization that she was attempting this on her own; she needed a partner … someone to talk to.
Jean couldn’t persuade any of her friends to make the long trip to Manhattan for the program, so she took matters into her own hands. She adapted the health department’s weight loss program into something that she and her friends could do together in their hometown of Queens.
It was in one of those first meetings that the organization known as Weight Watchers was born. Today it has the reputation of being one of the most effective weight-loss programs anywhere. Jean Nidetch hit on the simple approach that shedding pounds requires more than just a diet … it also requires support from others.
So the typical Weight Watchers meeting involves weight check-ins. The setting of goals is encouraged for the purpose of accountability. Participants are also coached through open conversation about the challenges, defeats and victories in weight-loss.
Jean Nidetch, now 86 years old, says she has never told anyone he needed to lose weight. “I don’t believe in telling people. But people say to me, ‘I wish I could lose weight.’ I say, ‘Wishing won’t do it. I know you can. If you want me to, I’ll help.’”
This story illustrates a powerful reality for Christ-followers. We are born again into a Body, the Body of Christ. As “body-parts” we can’t properly function disconnected from other parts of the body. Pull your heart out of your chest and lay it on the table; see how long it functions.
One of the reasons the church is so important in the lives of Christ-followers is that in that context we are encouraged in our faithfulness to Christ. Part of our duty is to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (10:25).
This kind of accountability only happens in the context of close, Christ-centered relationships. It starts in our homes where as Christian husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters we submit our lives to each other. Beyond that it helps to have some close brothers or sisters in Christ with whom we can share our goals, our challenges, our defeats and our victories.
There is grave danger in a believer living life closed off to other believers. There is unimaginable strength in a believer living a life opened up to accountability of others who love us in Christ.