Last week, in Bible study, we focused on the story of Deborah, a female judge for Israel. One of the things that really stood out to me was Israel’s backsliding. (In case it is not a term you are familiar with, backsliding is a return to bad habits or choices.) Take a look at this verse from Judges 2:11.
“And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals.” Judges 2:11
Here the people of Israel have returned to their bad ways and it is not the only verse in the Bible that mentions Israel backsliding. In fact, there are many verses about it and what happened to them each time they backslid. This resonated with me because of my experience with backsliding in my faith walk.
As a new Christian, many years ago, I thought that people were only susceptible to backsliding if their faith was weak or their church attendance was questionable. But those are merely symptoms. Backsliding isn’t the direct result of the strength of your faith or your church attendance. It is the result of a lack of accountability.
“Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” Judges 2:18-19
Just like the times that Israel turned back to their old ways, we too, without accountability, are at risk of giving into our sin nature – our personal addictions.
But what about the whole “judge not”?
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-3
Read carefully, there is a lot in that verse. The first time I read it, I thought it was about not judging other people. But as I have grown in my faith and studied God’s word, I realized that the verse is cautioning us about the intent and the manner in which we approach a situation. If we are going to hold each other accountable, we need to be sure it is for the right reasons and it is done with love.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
Imagine your are the Captain of the Titanic and a trusted fellow Christian is reaponsible for delivering the iceberg warning, would you want them to point out the danger in time?