Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsSaturday 28 Nov 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
In Part 1 I looked at loyalty—what comes to mind when I mention the word ‘loyalty’? We spoke that not every relationship has a sense of loyalty. Loyal friendships—you’ve got to work at them.
Beth Kephart has written a book called Into the Tangle of Friendship. In it she says:
Even if someone’s qualities begin to grate on you, if you have that long history, you’re not going to give up easily. The thing that breaks a friendship is betrayal. And the thing that saves a friendship is forgiveness.
Loyalty Is Tested over Time
Our friends can be mirrors, reflecting back who we have been and what we have become, thanks to the accumulation of experiences over time. I’m sure this means that over time, loyal commitments weather the storms. Happiness can return after a dry spell and in fact, loyalty helps erode the harshness, just as water carves through hard rock. Do you have a friend like that?
Close friendships that we form help us meet our biggest life challenges—sickness, financial stress, death of a loved one—and help us bear the burdens that come from loneliness and isolation. The Bible reminds us of how important loyalty is in Proverbs 3:3-4 (CEV): “Let love and loyalty always show like a necklace, and write them in your mind. God and people will like you and consider you a success”.
Loyalty does not mean that we always get along. Sometimes protest is itself a form of loyalty. Our loyalties must be refined with wisdom and reflection.
When Abraham learned that God intended to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, he spoke out against this injustice. Did God abandon Abraham for disagreeing? No. Our tradition honours Abraham for standing up to God. True loyalty is strengthened by the tests and hard times. Loyalty need not be blind or deaf. It just needs to be enduring.
Loyalty Is out of Fashion Now
Jack Valenti, President of the Motion Picture Association of America from 1966 to 2004, said something very interesting about loyalty:
You can count me as an out-of-date dinosaur. I come from an era when loyalty and gratitude were regally honoured…In a strange way, loyalty is now seen as some kind of a character flaw.
It seems to me that loyalty has pretty much gone out the window in many respects. Years ago, many companies tried to be loyal to their employees and employees, in return, were loyal to their company. Not true anymore.
People aren’t often loyal even to their church family these days. I heard about one man who was shipwrecked on a deserted island. For years, he lived on the island before a passing ship noticed his signal fire. When a boat came ashore, the man showed the sailors where and how he had survived. Besides his hut, there was a crude chapel that he had built. There was also another chapel in the distance. A sailor asked about the other chapel, and the man said, That’s my old church. I got mad and left.
Loyalty is now out of fashion—seen as belonging to a former generation or time. It’s even spoken of as a character flaw. The media today derides this quality. Years ago, loyalty was easy to identify:
- Did you stand by and stick up for your friends?
- Did you keep their secrets?
- Did you make sure that no one bullied your brother or sister?
There was no sort of loyal. You were loyal, or you weren’t.
Loyalty, like love, is not something you get but something you give.
David Myers has said: “Close, supportive, connected relationships make for happiness, and we have fewer of those relationships today.” But do you find that fulfilment only comes when we give of ourselves to others. Loyalty, like love, is not something you get but something you give. But, like love, giving loyalty, over time, through difficulties and trials, leads to mutual loyalty. And it leads to relationships that are a profound source of satisfaction and happiness that cannot be built any other way.
A great example of loyalty from the Bible is David’s loyalty to King Saul, even when Saul was trying to kill him! Now that is a tremendous test of your loyalty to someone. Will you still honour them, be loyal to them, even if they are trying to kill you? I’m sure this type of loyalty is very rare in today’s world.
Loyalty requires a commitment to someone or something other than ourselves.
Loyalty Can Be Costly
It often costs to be loyal. We want the benefits of a relationship, a marriage, having a family, our job, knowing Jesus as our personal Saviour—but we don’t want to pay the price of having that relationship, being married, being part of a family, having a job, or our faith in Christ. We all can be loyal when things are going good, but the true test of loyalty is during times of trouble.
The disciples of Jesus were all loyal when great crowds came to hear him preach, when he was sharing his wisdom, when he was healing people and raising the dead. But where were they when the Romans came to take him in the Garden of Gethsemane? Nowhere to be found. Running away in fear for their lives. Denying they even knew who he was.
What does the Bible have to say about loyalty and being loyal? Proverbs 17:17 says that a friend is always a friend. So it means loyalty is unwavering in good times and bad.