Good morning. Good morning. It is good to be with you. My name is Joe Valenti. I’m one of the pastors here. I’m our equip pastor. I get to lead the teams that teach us the Bible in various ways: kids, youth, young adults, men’s and women’s life groups. It’s a blast to do that. If you would, open your Bibles with me to the Book of 1 Corinthians. That’s where we’ll be today. As you’re turning there, I just have a quick question as we begin: how many of you have ever done something stupid? Yeah. It may be hard for you to believe, but me too. I’ve done some dumb things. How many of you have ever done a dumb thing and somebody warned you and you ignored them and did it anyway? Yeah. How many of you ever did a foolish thing and you wished that somebody would have said something to stop you? Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about accountability – about the relationships that we’re supposed to have with other brothers and sisters in Christ that help us not do stupid things – that help us not continue in a lifestyle of sin, that help us to see the blind spots in our lives that we might not otherwise see.

If you were here last week, Pastor Rick Duncan preached, he’s the founding pastor of our church. He shared a little bit of our history – that for years, Cuyahoga Valley Church would set up church in Brecksville Middle School or in Lawrence School down the street, and then we’d tear down and put it all back into a trailer and do that every week. Well, then in 2001, this building was completed and Rick got an office over in the corner. It’s a conference room now. But back then, that was his office. He mentioned how he felt like he was living a little high on the hog because he had been so used to his office being the local library or Panera. As he talked about that office in his sermon last week, I remembered that office because I remember the first time I got called into that office. Some of you know my story or bits and pieces of it. It was great to hear Stephanie’s story. Man, what a testimony of God’s grace. Wow. My story is actually very similar. When I first started here, I was part-time, and I would write the lighting cues, and I would set up the sound cables, and I did a lot of those types of things, but I was still living my party life.

I made some choices one night and I got arrested for DUI. By God’s grace, nobody was hurt that evening, but I was in trouble and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I was in the green room. There’s a little room back behind this wall where the band hangs out. I was talking to a friend of mine and I said, What do I do, man? Where do I go from here? His solution was, You should go talk to Pastor Rick. I was like, Sounds like a terrible idea. You have What’s option B? He said, Well, he was just honest with me. He said, You don’t have to. You can run from this. You can hide. You don’t have to hold yourself accountable. Not too many people know you here. You can leave. You just graduated college. Go find a job somewhere else and keep living the way you want to live and see how it turns out. It was a hard season for me as I tried to decide what I was going to do. I had to answer a question that all of us have to answer not only today, but every day as we follow Jesus.

Here’s the question, Am I willing to allow others to hold me accountable? Am I willing to allow others to hold me accountable to the Biblical expectations of being a Christ follower? Are you willing to allow God’s word to have authority over your life and have somebody else point it out to you? Say, Hey, brother, you’re not living according to what this says. Are you willing to respond in humility? When a trusted friend calls you to repentance, are you willing to allow others to hold you accountable to the Biblical expectations of being a Christ-follower? Let’s pray. We’ll dig into that question. Lord, you know each of us better than we know ourselves. You know our strengths and our weaknesses. You know the deep, dark, hidden spots that nobody else knows. You know the shame, you know the guilt, you know the things that we have made disasters of in our life. You know all of the consequences that we’ve had to endure for our behavior. You know the damage that we’ve caused. You know the damage that others have caused to us. Lord, you know what we’re like. And so you know that we’re prone to hide.

We’re prone to avoid vulnerability. We’re prone to defensiveness. Anytime someone tries to correct us, you know that we’re prone to fiercely guard our individualism. But Lord, that’s not how you’ve called us to live. You’ve not called us to live alone or isolated. For those who are in Christ, you’ve made us a part of a body that is intended to function collectively in community, in relationship. And so, Lord, we need help, we need forgiveness, we need healing, and we need humility. So would you help us today? Would you guard me from error? I ask this in Christ’s name, Amen. Amen. Over the last two weeks, we’ve been in 1 Corinthians 4. If you’ve missed the beginning of this series, we’re getting ready to launch into all of the concerns, the nitty gritty concerns that Paul has with the church and Corinthians. But up to this point, if I could summarize the message, it has been this. Hey, Corinthians. You think you’re doing way better spiritually than you really are. See, the people in Corinthians, they’re affluent, they’re skilled. Many of them have rhetorical skill that was very highly… It was made one astute in Corinth. Paul tells them, You’ve got the wisdom of the world.

You’re a big deal as a Corinthians, but you don’t have the wisdom of God. You’re misunderstanding the two. He’s trying to get them to convince them to take a good, hard look at themselves and to listen to his correction and his rebuke. Now, in chapter 4, he starts getting a little fired up with the Corinthians. If you were here last week, the text that we preached last week, it drips with sarcasm, where Paul goes, Oh, Bo, you guys are just doing fine, aren’t you? You don’t need old Paul coming in here telling you how to live. You know what? We should probably switch things. Why don’t you be in charge and you teach me? That would be much better since you’re doing so well. Then he shifts here to talking about his authority to call them on the carpet, to hold them accountable. And there’s something in us that when we hear that word authority, there’s something that makes us want to buck that authority, right? There’s something goes, Oh, I don’t like… It doesn’t matter what environment it’s in. We go, I don’t like that. Because one, we’re fallen, but two, we live in this culture now where to question someone, to correct someone, to disagree with someone, to call someone to a certain standard is viewed as unloving.

What we’re supposed to do, what the culture tells us to do is just let people figure out what their truth is and then affirm it, which is nonsense. Amen. Amen. Come on. What we are supposed to do is look at this truth and conform our lives to it. A lot of times as Christians, we will follow the culture. One of the phrases that I’ve heard in Christianity is like, Well, we’re not supposed to judge other people. I go, Where do you read that? Now, it’s in there. It’s there in Matthew 7. Jesus talks about that. But let’s look at the context. Jesus doesn’t say, Hey, everybody, don’t judge. Don’t worry about everyone else’s doing. Let everyone do their thing and just leave them alone. It’s not what Jesus says. Jesus gives us a context for how to judge. He says, Hey, look at the plank in your own eye.

Before you go looking at the speck in your brother’s eye. He gives us a context for how to interact. He says, Hey, go into that conversation humbly, recognizing that you have plenty of things going on in your own life that are wrong. Don’t come to your brother or your sister in pride, looking down your nose, thinking that you’re better than them. There’s an approach to rightly entering into accountable relationships and conversations. In the book of Ephesians, Paul says that we are to submit one to another out of reverence for Christ. We don’t like that word either, man. Authority, that’s a bad one, and then submit. We really go, No, thanks. But that’s what Paul calls us to do. He calls us to submit to one another. We’re going to talk this morning about how to do that the right way. There’s a wrong way to do it. There’s a right way to do it. Paul gives us the right way to do it. 1 Corinthians 4, starting in verse 14. Let’s read the whole text, and then we’ll start to pick it apart. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.

For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. I urge you then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you, Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord to remind you of my ways in Christ as I teach them everywhere in every church. Some are arrogant as though I were not coming to you, but I will come to you soon if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people, but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love in a spirit of gentleness. I have five things this morning that I see in this text about Christian accountability. Number one, Christian accountability is helpful, not hurtful. Christian accountability is helpful, not hurtful. Look again at verse 14. He says, I do not write these things to make you ashamed. He’s not trying to shame the Corinthians and just make them feel bad about themselves, but to admonish you. That’s a fancy word that we don’t use very often, but is to warn you.

We talked about that at the very beginning. How many of us have ever done something and we wish somebody would have warned us? Paul saying, I’m not just trying to make you feel bad or feel guilty or feel shame. I’m trying to warn you that the way you’re living is going to lead to destruction. I’m doing that as my beloved children. There’s a tone that you’ll read throughout 1 Corinthians where Paul is very forward. Sometimes we need a spirit of gentleness in our correction with one another, in our accountability with one another. Sometimes we really need to ramp up the firmness in the way that we approach one another. There’s a phone number in my phone, and I leave it there because every now and then, as I’m typing in a number, that name will come up. It’s a good reminder for me. I was in a pastoral situation with a person who was dealing with drug addiction, and I was pretty gentle with that person. I feel like maybe, as I look back, maybe I should have been a little bit more forward with them. Maybe I should have pushed a little bit harder.

Maybe I should have admonished them a little bit more intensely, because just a few days after that conversation, that person died from overdose. I was as gentle and loving as I could have been, and it’s not what they needed. Now, I don’t carry the guilt or the fault from that. There were a lot of pieces of the puzzle. But I think some of us may have scenarios in our lives: friends, family members, college roommates, coworkers, where we saw something, there was a warning to be levied, and we didn’t bring that warning out of fear of offending, or maybe we were a little bit too gentle. Sometimes correction hurts. Now, our aim should not be to be hurtful. That’s called abuse, and that’s dangerous. Our aim is to be helpful and sometimes being helpful hurts. You’re tracking with me? It’s really important to get the nuance between these two things. When we go to a brother or sister and we see that they’re living in a way that is incongruent with God’s word and we see the potential damage that it can cause, we need to aim to be helpful in the way that we approach them, even if it hurts.

I think about if your little girl is running towards the street and you see the car coming around the bend, you’re not going to go, Well, I hope that car doesn’t hit her. It’s insane. You’re going to scream and go, Hey, sweetie, stop. She gets right to the edge, there goes the car, and you’re so glad that you got loud. We’re always aiming to be helpful, not hurtful. But that doesn’t always mean that we’re gentle. One of the quotes that I ran across in my study this week is by Paul Gairdner. His commentary on 1 Corinthians is excellent, and he says, One of the sadnesses of our modern world is that our tendency is to equate genuine love with softness of speech. Christian accountability is helpful, not hurtful, but it’s not always gentle. Number two, Christian accountability is relational, not remote. Relational, not remote. Verses 14 and 15, again, I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children, for though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. The word guides there, the underlying Greek word, is where we get our word for pedagogy or pedagog.

If you’re a teacher in the room, you may know that word. It’s the science or the study of learning how to teach. Pedagogs in ancient Greek civilization were servants in a household that were responsible for making sure that the children stayed at their studies. Did any of you grow up and you went to Catholic school and you had a nun with a ruler that would whack you on the knuckle from time to time? Oh, Timmy, did you get that from time to time? Maybe once or twice, right? That’s the picture of a pedagogy, that they were just there to make sure that you stayed on task. Oftentimes in the art of that time, a pedagogy was drawn or painted with a rod in their hands. The picture that Paul is writing here is saying, Hey, you might have countless people who are just interested in correcting you, but you don’t have many people like me who care about you so deeply like a father that I’m willing to engage at this level. You know this, especially if you are on social media. There’s no end to the number of people that would love to tell you what you’re doing wrong.

It’s easy. It’s easy to find somebody to correct you or to make a comment about your life without knowing anything about you, your circumstances, or having a relationship. Paul saying, You may have the actual phrase here is you may have 10,000 people, 10,000 guides to correct you, but you’ve only got one father. Accountability happens in the context of relationship. Paul knows these people. He planted this church. Accountability has to happen in the context of relationship because we have to build trust in order for accountability to work. One of the things that’s really difficult for me, I’ve been in student ministry for almost two decades now, and I watched these little sixth graders that come in and they’re so full of life. The world is their oyster. They’re so happy, they’re so excited, they have a ton of fun. Then middle school hits them. Right, Aaron? Then middle school hits them. Aaron’s son is in my life group. That’s how Adrian was, man. He’s full of life. Then middle school, it’s like, Right? Middle school, why? Because middle school is the place where you learn to distrust people. Where everyone, most of them is out to hurt you.

Because that’s how middle schoolers think. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to respond. Everybody’s hurting everybody. The solution is, well, hurt before you get hurt. I watched this. I watched this transformation, sixth, seventh, eighth grade into high school. Then we end up in these lives as adults where we don’t trust people, where every time a comment is made or a correction is levied towards us. We always think, What are you trying to get out of this? What are you trying to do to me? How are you trying to hurt me? This is the fallen world that we live in. But in order to have accountable relationships, we’ve got to push past that, get to know people, get to know their story, and redevelop trust by the power of the Holy Spirit so that when somebody corrects us, when somebody sees something in our life, and that they want to hold us accountable to, our initial response is not immediate defensiveness, but we can actually receive that correction because we trust that person. You’re tracking with me? It has to be relational. No, not remote. You can’t just show up here every Sunday and not jump into relationship and expect that your walk with Jesus is going to grow.

Just today, even with the snow, a thousand people have come in and out of these doors. You could go into the foyer after service and just spin around in a circle, and whoever you land on, you go to that person and say, Hey, I want to build a trusting relationship with you and accountability. You’re probably going to freak them out. There are better ways to do it. There are better ways to do it. We call them life groups. Life groups are smaller groups. It’s a way that we make this big community small, 10-15 people. You meet on a regular basis. You get to know people, you get to know their story, you get to know their history, and you build trust. You grow that relationship. You study the Bible together. You see what does God call us to do, and then you can begin to hold one another to hold them to you. You’re accountable to living according to God’s commands. If you’re not in a life group, you got to get in a life group. You just have to do it. There’s a fancy tool. So if you go to CBC online, you get home today, front page, there’s a button that says, Life group.

There’s going to be a picture of, Oh, I think I’m the picture. So right below me, literally, this is how you’re going to remember, right below me, there’s a life group button. Click on the Life group button, and there’s a fancy tool in there where you can say, Here’s the night of the week I have free. Here’s the type of person I am. Here’s the group I want to get. And it’ll do all sorts of fancy magic and spit out the different life groups that will fit for your schedule and your season of life. We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible. Get into a life group, connect with people, get to know people. That’s your first step in building an accountable relationship if you don’t have a Christian friendship yet. Jump into a life group. I just want to say I saw Dale in the foyer as well. If you’re a guy in the room, men of consequence, men’s retreat is coming up. It’s like 24 hours. Twenty-four hours your time. And I know, hey, man, I know a lot of you are out there crushing it, working hard, trying to provide for your family.

Hallelujah. I know you’re busy. If you get it. Just 24 hours. Twenty-four hours and you can meet some other dudes. Right now, there’s about 50 guys signed up, all different age ranges. Just do it. Just go. Just sign up. Wives, I’m begging you, I know you hold down the fort all the time? Would you give me 24 more hours? Because my hope is that your husband would come home encouraged and ready to jump into, or having built a relationship so he can jump into accountability. Dale is going to be out in the foyer, out the doors to the right. Do it. It’ll be good for you. Christian accountability is helpful, not hurtful, relational, not remote. Third, humble, not haughty. Humble, not haughty. Verse 15, For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. Anybody ever have a boss? I was actually just talking to somebody before the service, and she’s been in her industry for quite a long time, and they just hired somebody who’s way younger than her to be her boss. Anybody ever have that happen? The person that they hire maybe doesn’t have a whole lot of experience, but they have authority, and boy, do they like to use that authority.

This is the world that we live in, where one of the reasons that we shy away from the word authority is because people don’t always use their authority effectively. They’ve not built influence or relationship. They just have authority and they like to wield it. Paul is reminding us that that’s not what he’s doing. He’s reminding us that the relationship, that the family, that the connectedness, that his authority to correct them, to instruct them, to admonish them comes through the gospel. Paul is, in real time, working out the whole plank in the eye, speck in the eye situation. He’s not saying, You’re to listen to me because I said so, because I have this office, because I’m really important. He goes, No, this is a gospel issue. I brought the gospel to you. He’s remembering that not so long ago, he was the one who was the Christian killer. Paul was the man who needed the gospel. He needed forgiveness. He needed grace. Jesus interacted with his life. And he says, what’s the first thing he says? Paul, why are you persecution me? Jesus calls him right on the carpet. Why are you living the way that you’re living?

Paul is remembering that moment as he writes to the Corinthians, and he’s saying, My fatherly affection, my authority over you, the reason that I’m calling you to this type of response is not because I have some general authority or some position. It’s because in the gospel, this is what I’m called to do. We have to come to one another humbly, remembering from where we came. Sometimes we get older in the faith. We’re 10, 20, 30, 40 years down the road in our faith, and we see young people doing foolish things, and we look down our nose at them instead of mentoring them because we forgot what it was like to tell the story in the baptismal. We forget where we came from, and it makes us haughty instead of humble. Christian accountability has got to be humble. We recognize our mutual need for the gospel, and we approach one another out of that heart posture. Number four, Christian accountability is progressive, not passive. Now, culture has stolen that word progressive, and it sometimes means something that it doesn’t mean. What I mean when I say progressive is making progress. Christian accountability makes progress. It’s not passive.

One of my accountability partners is in the room, and Bob and I had breakfast a couple of weeks ago, and one of the things that we were talking about was that we had both been lax in our prayer time with our wives. There are two things that we can do. We can be passive. We can go, Oh, yeah, man, I know it’s been rough. You too? Mm-hmm. How are those eggs? But that’s how some accountability relationships are. It’s just like sharing how you’re failing and then going along with your life. It’s not what accountability is. It doesn’t spur us on towards growth. We shared back and forth, and Bob goes, Well, let’s set a goal. Let’s do something about it. If I recall the conversation, I was like, How about we aim it like three days this week? He goes, There’s seven days in a week, homie. I’m like, Okay, we’re doing seven. We’re doing seven. All right, we’re doing seven. Let’s go. He was like, Yeah, we’re doing seven. Okay. Then we start texting one another. We set a goal in Christian growth. We have already had the heart. Our attitudes were good. We wanted to pray with our lives, spend more time doing that.

We just weren’t doing it. We’re just being lazy. So patting ourselves in the back going, Oh, we’ll get them next time, brother. No, no, no. Set a goal. We want to grow and we’re going to do it. For a couple of weeks, we crushed it. Now, Bob, we didn’t have a conversation in a couple of weeks, man. I’ve slipped off, to be honest with you, bro. But that’s what it is. Right now, I’m holding myself accountable. I got to grow. The Christian life is about growth. We see it throughout the Bible. Paul says, I urge you then to be imitators of me. That’s why I sent you, Timothy, my beloved and faithfulful child in the Lord to remind you of my ways in Christ as I teach them everywhere in every church. What a statement for Paul to be able to say like, Hey, I’m not perfect, but you can look at me. You can look at my life. The way that I’m living, I am striving to pursue congruence to God’s Word in every way. So you can look at me. We need people like that in our lives. We need people that we can look at, that we rub shoulders with.

This is when you jump into a life group, you’re going to meet people that are better than you at stuff. Being around them and learning from them is one of the ways that we grow. I am not a skilled evangelist. I’m not very good at it. Pastor Chad, it’s at the top of his mind all the time. As I spend time with him, my heart for evangelism grows. Jack Hopkins, he’s on our staff. He started going to church here when he was in eighth grade, and he went all the way through high school. Even when he was in college, he was still serving, and now he serves on our staff. Now, if you were to listen to Jack play the guitar, if you’re a musician and you’ve ever heard me play the guitar, you’ll notice Jack plays the guitar a lot like me. The way that he strums, the way that he picks, I can close my eyes if I need if he’s leading in a worship service, and sometimes I get a little grit on my face because I hear myself playing. Now, I never gave Jack a guitar lesson ever a day in his life.

The reason Jack plays guitar like me is because for the last 10 years of his life, he’s been playing guitar with me. In bands leading upfront and in Collide and in various events around the area, Jack has learned to play guitar like me by being around me playing guitar. In the same way, we need to surround ourselves with people that we want to be like. That’s, again, this whole Christian community piece. When we’re in a life group, when we’re in community, we learn and we grow by emulating people who are farther along in their spiritual walk. Hopefully, there are things in our lives that they will learn from as well. We’ve got to be committed, though, to growth. We can’t just be stagnant in our walk. If you were to ask me, Pastor Joe, are you alive? I wouldn’t go run home and bring back my birth certificate and show you, see, I’m alive. The argument that I would make to you is, look, I’m doing a live person things. I’m talking, I’m breathing, we’re conversing. In the same way, you want to know, Am I a Christian? Well, is the fruit of the Spirit coming out of you?

That’s how you know. Are you growing? That’s how you know. That’s why we are to assess ourselves throughout our Christian life, to look at yourself, to see, test yourself, to see if you’re in the faith. Christian accountability is progressive, not passive. Finally, Christian accountability is firm, not feeble. Verse 18, Some are arrogant as though I were not coming to you, but I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these people, but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk, excuse me, but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness? So there are some people in Corinthians who this letter is not going to be enough. Paul says, You know what? I’m just going to come for a visit. He’s going to walk from Ephesis to Corinthians, which is about the same distance as if we were to walk from here to Monterey, Mexico. No, but get how important this is. Paul loves the Corinthians Church so much. He wants so deeply for them to understand these things, for them to receive the correction, for them to adjust the way that they’re living and thinking to the instructions in God’s Word that He says, I’m going to send this letter ahead, but the letter is not going to be enough, so I’m going to show up.

Sometimes we need to push, push, push, push on our brothers and sisters that are making shipwreck of their lives. I’ve called brothers before, and I’ll leave voicemails, I’ll leave text messages, and I’ll go, Look, if you don’t answer me, I will show up at your office. I’ll just wait in the parking lot. I know what car you drive, bro. If you don’t want to talk about this, I’m going to push the issue because I’ve seen some friends of mine that have wandered so far down the path of rebellion that they completely ghosted me. I go, It’s not good enough. I’m not okay with that. If I had to show up and embarrass you at your office, okay, that’s fine. I’ll do that. There have been times when I have threatened to get on a plane. My best buddy lives in California, and I’ll do it. I’ll get on a plane and I’ll fly to California. I’ll cancel my plans. That’s what Paul is getting at here is sometimes we’ve got to love people so desperately that as we’re watching them walk in rebellion, we don’t just let them be. We don’t just say a few kind words or a text.

We actually go after them. We pursue them. We walk from Ephesians to Corinthians if it’s necessary. And that’s what he says. You want me to? I’ll show up and I can come one of two ways. I can come with a rod in my hand or I can come with gentleness. How do you want me to come? Sometimes our correction of one another has got to be a little bit more firm than it is. Always aiming to help. We can’t miss that. But sometimes we’ve got to go after one another a little bit more intentionally, a little bit more fully. In his 2021 sermon at Passion, which is a conference for young adults, Matt Chanler says to the young adults there, How unloving is it for you to step back and cross your fingers and go, ‘Man, I hope my friend gets through this stupid phase. ‘ How many of us have made mistakes and we wish that somebody would have come after us? Somebody would have grabbed us by the collar and said, What are you doing? Stop. You’re destroying your marriage. You’re destroying your family. You’re destroying your finances. You’re destroying your future. I’m so glad that somebody did that for me in that room back there.

Here’s what happened. I threw up for about a week because I was so anxious to go talk to Pastor Rick. I couldn’t sleep. I made the plans. He had this big desk. You walked in and it was like. He had like… The ivory wall was lined with books. I walked in there and I explained the situation that had happened. I felt like saying, Did you just please fire me so I can get out of this room? Just be done with it. He goes, Open your Bible. I said, Oh, here we go. He’s going to hit me with a Bible verse and then fire me. He said, Joe, open your Bible to Galatians 6. I did. He said, read it out loud. I did. Brothers, if anyone is caught in a train oftransgression, you, who are spiritual, should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself lest you too be tempted, bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. He looked at me and he said, Joe, our desire is not to condemn you, but to restore you. I’m here to tell you that moment in that room changed my whole life.

Everything changed, and I never looked back. It didn’t happen because of a sermon. I grew up in a church about this size. I had heard sermon after sermon after sermon. It didn’t happen at some conference or youth camp. All those things are good. I don’t mean to disparage them in any way. Those are wonderful things. My life took a radical turn because somebody had the guts to correct me and to confront me about the way that I was living. What I received was help to get better and grace that I could grow in. It changed my whole life. I had to go through some counseling. I had to do some classes for recovery. I was pulled out of a lot of the ministry responsibilities that I had. There was correction, there were consequences, but it was all done in a spirit of gentleness. It was helpful, not hurtful. It set my life on a completely different trajectory. The counselor that I had, his name was Frank, and he was such a wonderful man. I saw him a couple months ago, and he said to me, Oh, boy. He’s like, Man, when I met you, you had one foot out the door and the other foot on a banana peel.

Man. But two men willing to love… Well, three. Pastor Brian Howe was a big part of that season two. Those men’s willingness not to let me just float down the road changed my whole life. And so I’m pleading with you to get into a relationship where you can be held accountable to God’s word and where you can grow. That’s where the real-life change happens. Here’s my action step for you. I’m going to ask everybody, get out your phone. Just do it. Get out your phone. You’re not signing up for anything. I’m not going to chat back and forth with you. We’re not secretly going to put you on some list. I want you to text that number, so put that number in the to field and then just type that word, relate. Here’s what’s going to happen, I’ll tell you. In a few minutes, you’re going to get a text back from that. It’s automated. It’s not somebody going, Oh, who’s sending it? You’re going to get a text back with a link, and the link is just going to take you to a web page that has some great accountability questions, some questions that you can ask a brother or sister to ask you.

You’ve got the questions. Now, here’s your main action step. If you are not in the habit of being in a relationship with a brother or sister, brother or sister in Christ who loves you and who cares about you, where you dig into one another’s lives, where you challenge one another, where you encourage one another, where you call out sin, if you’re not in that habit, I want to encourage you to text, phone call, email, in-person conversation, and welcome that in your life this week. Say, Hey, here’s a list of questions. I’d like to start meeting with you every other week, and I want you to ask me these questions. Open up the door to begin to have this type of relationship in your life so that collectively, we can grow in the grace and the knowledge and the faith of Jesus Christ so we can guard one another from shipwreck in our faith and so that we can truly begin to develop unity as a body of believers. I’ll give you a for taste. Next week, chapter 5, we’re getting into sexual immorality and sexual sin. Here we go. I told you it was coming.

I told you it was coming a couple of weeks ago. It’s coming. You’ve got to have somebody in your life, man. As we go through these next several chapters, you’ve got to have somebody in your life that you can love and trust, and that’s going to ask you those questions so that you don’t walk out of here every Sunday just overwhelmed with guilt and shame and not knowing what to do with it. Make that call this week. Send that text message this week. Begin that relationship and you’re going to be better for it. You’re going to be better for it. This moment right now, like it did to mine, this might be saving your life. That phone call this week might save your marriage. It might save your family. It might save you a disaster in the next 5-10 years. Make the call, ask the questions, jump into a relationship with somebody who loves you. Let’s pray. God, we love you today, and we want to be more like you. We want to be more like you. We want to pursue holiness and faithfulfulness. We want to be there for our spouses and for our children.

We want to leave a legacy of Christ-likeness. When that moment comes, when we’re laid in the casket, maybe in front of this church, what are people going… What are people going to say? God, I pray that you would guard each of us from the damage that we could potentially cause if we continue in the ways that we’re living with our sin unchecked. God, I pray for those in the room who are scared to take this step. Would you give them courage by the power of your Spirit? God, would we approach one another in ways that are helpful and not hurtful? Will we run after our friends with passion. I pray, Lord, that you would sanctify, make this church holy as you are holy and help our submission to one another to do that. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen. Amen.

Donec sollicitudin molestie malesuada. Cras ultricies ligula sed magna dictum porta. Vivamus suscipit tortor eget felis porttitor volutpat. Nulla porttitor accumsan tincidunt.
— Leonetta Lloyd