Spiritual friendship enables accountability. We need to recall that two of the chief problems restricting the growth of men are nearsightedness and distraction. The difficulty with both of these is that a person is partially unconscious of what is going on. By the time David was contemplating a night with Bathsheba his blood was already boiling. Lust had already mounted a siege against the conscience and was catapulting missiles against the will. What would have been the very best safety valve for David while he was pacing the decking of his palace? He should have had Abiathar the priest, or Nathan the prophet, or some other man of God walking with him. A good friend would have smacked him across the face and told him to recollect the life of Saul before dabbling in sin.
Distraction is similar. We don’t distract ourselves. Something else distracts us. Work gets busy and all of the sudden every mental faculty is focused on meeting a deadline rather than abiding in Christ. We get caught in the current of life and suddenly realize that youth athletics has replaced worship as the focus of Sundays. How can we protect ourselves so that we realize our mistakes before drifting a mile down river? No method is more useful than walking closely what a band of other men. They will spot errors before we do. They will see the plank in the eye that otherwise is blinding.
The stakes of righteousness are far too high to venture through life alone. All of us teeter on the edge of a fall that could ruin our marriages, embitter our children, and defame the name of God. We need more than soft accountability; we need hard accountability. We need friends who are willing to draw a line in the sand and to warn us against crossing it. If Aaron, David, Solomon, and Peter stumbled into wicked rebellion, what makes us think that we can walk through the streets of Sodom undefiled? Men who are serious about discipleship need more than a passionate heart and a well-trained mind. They need comrades who care enough about them to tell them, no! A single chord is easily broken. It is only by weaving it among others that it becomes strong.