Romans 8:1-3 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” NKJV
I have been challenged by some inside and outside the Christian Faith regarding FORGIVENESS and ACCOUNTABILITY. I had one person say, “But if I forgive I can no longer hold them accountable. If I forgive they are no longer responsible for their actions or suffer any consequences, therefore I cannot forgive.” That is a sad misconception that has shipwrecked too many relationships among human beings. No longer holding someone accountable does not mean we have forgiven and forgiving does not mean there is no more accountability and responsibility for their actions. In personal relationships, it is a matter of transferring to God the hurt and allowing Him to deal with the person responsible in His way and time.
Some seem to have the idea that FORGIVING and HOLDING ACCOUNTABLE or BEING ACCOUNTABLE are incompatible and somehow violate the spirit and intent of forgiveness. I personally believe they are linked together spiritually in a very complex way. Yes, God wipes the slate clean when He forgives us but the debt of our sin was paid by Jesus so it was not simply treated as though it never happened. Ignoring wrongs damages rather than brings freedom by an act we feel obligated to perform, FORGIVING. After all, the Bible tells us that we must forgive to be forgiven and we all need forgiveness, right?
If we make ACCOUNTABILITY vindictive we err. It must be an honest evaluation of the actions and appropriate consequences be applied. Back to our Salvation, God does not continually punish us for our wrong-doing but chooses to forgive us and give us a clean slate through the Blood of Jesus. Some hold the belief that biblical forgiveness involves the injured party making a decision to no longer hold the offender accountable for their actions. THAT IS WRONG! Whitewashing the injury will not heal the hurt but create an environment through which the canker can eat away at the peace and destroy all trust and confidence leaving the one trying to forgive with incredible emptiness.
There must be an honest assessment of the wrong. If I wrong you in the process of FORGIVENESS and ACCOUNTABILITY I “must” acknowledge my wrong. If I cannot or will not acknowledge my wrong there is no accountability on my part. In our judicial system if a person is charged with a wrongful act there is an honest appraisal to determine the facts, evaluate the damage and determine the severity of the wrong. That is identified as Judgment. Forgiveness could be described as the sentencing after Judgment. Forgiveness NEVER denies the wrong or damage done but makes the conscious and willful decision to not exact revenge or payment for that wrong. I believe that it is difficult if not impossible to truly forgive without accountability. Unless there is an acknowledgment of the wrong there is nothing to forgive. What are we forgiving if the offender acknowledges no wrong?
Forgiveness does not continually punish for the wrong. I’ve known people who were quick to acknowledge their wrong and accept responsibility when the carrot of being let off the hook was dangled before them. Yet, genuine accountability does not view forgiveness through that prism. Accountability deals frankly and honestly with the wrong and is grateful for the forgiveness. When I accept responsibility and demonstrate accountability for my wrong I will also seek steps to prevent it from reoccurring and out of that condition and position forgiveness affords me a new lease on life.
Remember that Accountability demands the offender acknowledge and accept their responsibility for their actions. It is from that position that forgiveness is possible and can be life changing.
God bless you as you go through this wonderful day in Him.