When Justin Armour was a rookie wide receiver with the Buffalo Bills, some veteran teammates invited him to a preseason party. Justin went and couldn't believe what he saw: Gorgeous women everywhere, offering free sex to any of the guys who wanted it. "It was the most eye-opening experience I've ever had," Justin says. "I had heard about things like this, but I was so naive. I got out of there as fast as I could!"
As a single Christian guy, Justin had committed to saving sex for marriage. To do so, he knows he's got to run from temptation.
"I'd rather not have my mind polluted by those things. Once you've been in a couple situations where's there's temptation, you learn how to avoid them and you don't go back."
Justin also calls his best friend and accountability partner, Steve Stenstrom.
"You need someone to hold you accountable for walking with Christ," says Justin. "Steve does that for me. He knows everything about my life, good and bad, and there's nothing he won't hold me accountable for."
Mark Moring, editor of Men of Integrity. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1
Married for 16 years and with two great kids, Kurt Stansell seems to have it all together. He has a successful investment counseling business, and he's a founding elder at his church. And he's a sex addict. Kurt's the first to admit it. For years, Kurt struggled with pornography. It started with magazines, but eventually turned into visits to Triple-X theaters and strip joints. Kurt kept repeating a cycle of guilt and remorse, then prayer and repentance, only to find himself back at it again.
Eventually, Kurt found an accountability partner named Stan. At first, Kurt held back, being less than honest about his problem. But when he finally confessed, telling Stan the whole truth, Kurt immediately felt a weight lifted from his shoulders. He was on the road to victory.
"I began to understand what shame does," Kurt says. "When we Christians try to hide something in the darkness, we give Satan incredible license to work in our lives. So, the more open I could be, the less of a hold Satan seemed to have."
Accountability From Ourselves
On February 26, 1995, Barings, the oldest bank in Britain, announced it was seeking bankruptcy protection after losing nearly one billion dollars in a stock gamble. At the time Barings went under, the bank held assets for Queen Elizabeth, some $100 million according to Time magazine. In late 1994, the chief trader at Barings's Singapore office began betting big on Japan's Nikkei market. Then disaster struck. An earthquake hit Kobe, Japan, and on January 23, 1995, the Nikkei plunged more than one thousand points.
Barings Bank lost big money. But instead of cutting his losses, Barings's Singapore trader doubled his investment, apparently hoping that the Nikkei would rebound. It didn't. As the Nikkei continued to plummet, Barings's London office put up nearly $900 million to support its falling position on the Singapore investments. Finally Barings ran out of capital and declared bankruptcy.
How could one twenty-eight-year-old trader in Singapore lose nearly a billion dollars and ruin a 233-year-old British bank? According to Time, the problem was lack of supervision.
London allowed [the Singapore trader] to take control of both the trading desk and the backroom settlement operation in Singapore. It is a mix that can be-and in this case was toxic.... For a trader to keep his own books is like a schoolboy getting to grade his own tests; the temptation to cheat can be overwhelming, particularly if the stakes are high enough.
Without accountability, temptation becomes all the more tempting. Accountability protects us from ourselves.
Deception, Integrity, Management, Risk, Temptation
Prov. 4:26; 10:9; 14:8; 2 Cor. 8:21; Eph. 5:21
Contemporary Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers
Editor Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 10.
God Will Hold Us Accountable
The following is a collection of actual excuses for missing school that were turned in by students and reported in Seventeen magazine: My son is under a doctor's care and could not take P.E. yesterday. Please execute him.
Please excuse Cynthia for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.
Please excuse Tom for being absent on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33.
Please excuse Danny for being. It was his father's fault.
Richard had an acre in his side.
Please excuse Timothy for being absent last week. He could not talk because of Larry and Gitus.
Please excuse Nancy for staying home. The doctor said that her lungs are too full to be outside.
Please excuse Robert for being absent. He had a cold and could not breed well.
People have all sorts of excuses for the things they do. Some are legitimate, some are not. A teenage boy in Washington was recently acquitted of murder charges on the grounds that he was "morally handicapped." It wasn't his fault-said the judge that he shot and killed a fellow student. He had an excuse.
Life, perhaps unfortunately in some minds, doesn't work that way. Sooner or later we all have to take responsibility for who we are and what we do. We can't keep blaming our behavior on someone or something else.
Scripture teaches that we will be held accountable to God for our actions. (See Romans 3:19.) When we stand before the judgment seat of God, we won't be able to hand Him an excuse from our mothers or from anyone else and expect to be released from guilt. As Jesus put it, "They have no excuse for their sin" (John 15:22).
That's why Jesus came. He is our excuse. He is the note that gets us off the hook. When we believe in Him and follow Him as His disciples, we are released from our guilt. Christ stands with us at the judgment seat and says, "Please excuse He/she belongs to Me." And that's okay with God.
Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks
Wayne Rice, Zondervan, pp. 89-90.