Society is filled with self-centered people. It always has been, to one degree or another. It is all about them. They are only your friends or close family members, so long as they see a direct benefit to them. The Bible speaks of these type people (e.g. Job 6:15-17; Psalm 27:10; Proverbs 14:20; 23:22: 27:10; Luke 14:12-14; Mark 14:50; 2 Timothy 4:16, etc.).
Loyalty should characterize the people of God in the following relationships. Let’s notice –
1. Loyalty is needed in our relationship with God.
Life is not always easy. Job did not have it easy at every moment of his life. However, his loyalty to God never wavered. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21 cf. Genesis 3:19; Psalm 90:3; Ecclesiastes 12:7). Again, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10); “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
This type of loyalty is essential to heaven. Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). It takes trust. Paul said, “I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:11-12).
“True-hearted, whole-hearted, faithful and loyal, King of our lives by Thy grace we will be/ True-hearted, whole-hearted, fullest allegiance Yielding henceforth to our glorious King” (Song: True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted by Frances Havergal).
“To Christ by loyal and be true; His banner be unfurled, and borne aloft till is secure the conquest of the world/ To Christ be loyal and be true; He needs brave volunteers, to stand against the pow’rs of sin moved not by frowns or fears/ To Christ be loyal and be true; In noble service prove your faith and your fidelity, the fervor or your love” (Song: To Christ Be True by Elisha Hoffman).
2. Loyalty is needed in our relationship with brethren, and the local church.
Such loyalty is rare in this day. Many church-hop, with little or no commitment to the local church and her work. John Hobbs, citing a 1990 Newsweek article writes, “The baby boomers are returning to church, but the type of church they are looking for is one which offers support not salvation, help not holiness. They are seeking a church that is convenient, entertaining, one that does not point out any problems in their life, one that does not preach a list of do’s and don’ts. They do not want to feel guilty… They inspect congregations as if they were restaurants and leave if they find nothing to their taste… They don’t convert – they choose… Participation follows not out of duty or obligation usually but if it fits their needs… They do not want an authoritative church or guide… A group affirmation of self is at the top of the agenda, which is why some of the least demanding churches are not in greatest demand” (Hobbs, The Compelling Power of the Cross, pp. 71-72; Newsweek, December 17, 1990, “And the Children Shall Lead Them – Young Americans Return to God” by Wade Roof). Sad! I do not think much has changed, since these words were written, concerning church shopping. The consumer mentality asks, “What do you have to offer me, right now?” It says, “the church is here to entertain me and my kids, and to cater to my wants and desires.” The consumer never really considers himself as a part of the church. The church is separate. It is exists to serve me. The disciple mentality says, “It is the truth which sets man free. Does this church stand for the truth? True greatness is found in service. How can I serve others? Let me take up my cross and follow Him and His will in all that I do. I want to be a worker in the church and a part of the church.” The church is not seen as an institution completely separate from the members. Members of the Body make up the church.
Some are quick to leave over some real or imagined personal problem with another brother or sister in Christ. We are supposed to be brethren (e.g. I have five siblings, according to the flesh. I would never simply walk away from my relationship with them without diligently seeking to resolve the problem). Love should exist between us. Instead of rushing off, we should make great effort to resolve the matter (Matthew 18:15-17; Matthew 5:23-24; 1 Corinthians 13:1-7; Ephesians 4:1-3). Is leaving, without making a real effort to resolve the situation, really how God teaches us to handle things?
Some are quick to leave over some real or imagined difference in doctrine (even if that point of difference is not even understood by them to be a matter of salvation). Do not misunderstand Me; I am not suggesting actual false teaching is to be tolerated (Romans 16:17; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; Titus 1:10-13; 2 John 9-11; Revelation 2:14-16; 2:20-22, etc.). However, shouldn’t we care enough about one another to reason with one another? Is rushing off really the best way to handle things? And if we are going to leave over what is taught, shouldn’t we consider it something which is essential to salvation?
There are legitimate reasons to leave a church. One may relocate to live in another location. One may decide that his talents can be better used elsewhere. One may decide that moving is necessary for spiritual growth or spiritual well-being. False doctrine and sin may be entrenched and tolerated. Unbiblical things may be taking place; things which one has tried but cannot change.
However, church-hoppers we should not be. Loyalty is needed to build a local church. Ask yourself where a local church, any local church, would be if all members were as committed as you.
3. Loyalty is needed in our relationship with family.
Families in America, in many cases, are not what they should be. Husbands and wives work against each other, and even divorce. Parents are uninvolved and irresponsible, and even abandon their children. Children show no respect, and even abandon their parents. Family members do not talk to one another. Sad!
Loyalty is needed. Our love of Christ, alone, should surpass our love for family (cf. Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26).
Husbands and wives should be loyal to one another. Marriage ideally is for life (Matthew 19:6; Romans 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:39). Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Wives are to love their husbands and their children (Titus 2:4). Husbands are not to cast off their wives, but are to rejoice with the wife of their youth (Proverbs 5:18). Wives are to be the helper of their husbands (Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 31:10-12,23).
Parents need to be loyal to their children. Parents are not to abandon their children. They are to educate their children in the way of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy 1:5 cf. 3:15). Parents are to provide for their children (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Corinthians 12:14; Titus 2:4-5; Proverbs 31:15, 21). Parents should help them grow in the four areas of life (intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially cf. Luke 2:52).
Children need to be loyal to their parents. They are to be obedient when young (Ephesians 6:1). They are to be respectful and helpful, and even providing when old (Psalm 127:4-5; Proverbs 23:22; Matthew 15:4-6; 1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16). Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner report, “The economists Doug Bernheim, Andrei Shleifer and Larry Summers in using data from the U.S. government… Showed that an elderly parent in a retirement home is more likely to be visited by his grown children if they are expecting a sizable inheritance. But wait, you say: maybe the offspring of wealthy families are simply more caring toward their elderly parents? A reasonable conjecture – in which case you’d expect an only child of wealthy parents to be especially dutiful. But the data shows no increase in retirement-home visits if a wealthy family has only one grown child; there needs to be at least two. This suggest that the visits increase because of competition between siblings for the parents estate… Some governments, wise to the ways of the world, have gone so far as to legally require grown children to visit or support their aging moms and dads. In Singapore, the law is known as the Maintenance of Parents Act.” (Levitt and Dubner, Super Freakonomics, pp. 105-106). Sad!
4. Loyalty is needed in our relationship to friends and family friends.
The world is filled with “fair-weathered friends” (cf. Job 6:15-17; Proverbs 14:20). These “friends” are there in good times. They disappear when times are not so good. They abandon one when health, emotional, financial, and other difficulties come. Sad!
Some abandon old friends when a new friend comes along. Sad! Consider the words of Cicero, “Should new friends, assuming the deserve the designation, sometimes be ranked above old ones – in the same way we prefer young horses to old? This is not a question which any human being ought to ask. There are some things we can easily have too much of; but friendship is not one of them. The older it is the better it ought to have become, like a wine that has improved with age. There is truth in the saying that men must eat many a peck of salt together before they can know what friendship really means. I am not saying that new friendships are to be despised – on the assumption that they really offer a prospect of bearing fruit, like blades of corn that fulfill their promise at the harvest. Yet, the old friendships must still keep their place, for length of time and familiarity are by no means negligible factors. To go back to the horses for a moment; other things being equal, everyone would prefer to use the mount he knows rather than an untrained and unfamiliar one.” (Cicero, On the Good Life, p. 210 – 211). These are good words.
There should be loyalty. The Bible says, “Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend” (Proverbs 27:10 cf. Matthew 7:12; 1 Corinthians 13:1-7). True friendship is precious. True friends help one another through life. True friends “bear one another’s burdens” [(Galatians 6:2), of course such is not specifically about friends]. True friends help each other to be better. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friends” (Proverbs 27:17).
A word of caution is in order. Loyalty to friends does not require that we remain with those who are continued influences on us to sin (Psalm 1:1-2; Proverbs 1:10-15; 13:20; 22:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:33). I am speaking of a general pattern of evil influence, and not an occasional lapse of judgment or transgression of which one is willing to repent. When our friends sin, we should seek to restore them (Galatians 6:1-2; James 5:19-20). We should not quickly forsake them.
There is not a greater friend to man than Jesus (John 15:13). He deserves our loyalty (Matthew 10:32-33).
“They tried my Lord and Master, With no one to defend, Within the halls of Pilate He stood without a friend/ The world may turn against Him, I’ll love Him to the end, And while on earth I’m living, My lord shall have a friend/ I’ll be a friend to Jesus, My life for Him I’ll spend; I’ll be a friend to Jesus, Until my years shall end” (song: I’ll Be A Friend to Jesus by Johnson Oatman)