Loyalty the Test
1, 2. What does loyalty mean, how is it exemplified in Christ Jesus, and to whom does Jehovah entrust Kingdom interests?
THE word “loyalty” does not appear in the King James or the American Standard Version. Yet there are many words in the Bible that have exactly the same meaning. It is used at Deuteronomy 13:4, Moffatt’s translation, rendering it from the Hebrew dabáq, which means “to cling or adhere, to cleave, to stick”. It is a French word from the Latin legalis, meaning “lawful”, the old French being loial, hence our English word “loyal”, from the root “law”. The accepted usage of the word is faithful in love or duty, being true to one’s word, or of one who in times of revolt remains faithful to his allegiance. It means that which is done in strict conformity with the law of God. A loyal person is one who is dependable, not negligent, faithful in the performance of duty, and in heart harmony with God’s arrangements. This is exemplified in Christ Jesus. It is written of him: “An open ear thou gavest me; I answered, ‘Here I come to do thy bidding in the Book; to please and serve thee is my joy, thy law lies deep within my heart.’” (Ps. 40:6-8, Mo) He held strictly and firmly to God’s law at all times, just as though he was the law, never deviating. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8, NW) Jehovah God is always consistent, never neglecting his own laws and principles. “With him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.”—Jas. 1:17, NW.
2 Jehovah is still training his faithful ones for their present and future service, and no one is capable of exercising authority until he has learned to obey and be loyal to authority. Some of God’s servants have not been men of great “natural ability”, as this world understands that term, but they have had real ability in the Lord’s sight, and have been thoroughly dependable and loyal to Jehovah and his will. The ones today with whom God entrusts his Kingdom interests are those who have demonstrated their loyalty under test, having that same strict conformity to God’s law as was demonstrated by Christ. It must be the result of one’s personal convictions.
3. Who hold true to God’s law, and to what authorities are they loyal?
3 True, the loyalty of one may impress and influence others, but it is exhibited, not for that purpose, but because of one’s allegiance. Nor must one person’s loyalty be the controlling factor to force others to the same conclusion. However, where a group are all of the same opinion and determination from personal conviction, and all voluntarily united, then such is a loyal company. Today Jehovah’s witnesses are the only group of people holding true to God’s law, his rule of action. They are loyal to the highest authorities in the universe, Jehovah and Christ Jesus, and faithfully adhere to the theocratic government, giving unswerving allegiance to it and to its King. Also these witnesses recognize the arrangement Jehovah has established by creating the “faithful and discreet slave”, now having the complete responsibility over all the Master’s goods and possessions on earth. They acknowledge readily and willingly the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society as the legal servant of the “faithful and discreet slave”, and are loyal to it, also to the truth and to their brothers in the faith. Loyalty is known only when it is demonstrated, and it is actually revealed when there is trouble, adversity and temptation. Once it is manifested, however, confidence in the loyal one results.
4. What is the keynote to loyalty, and how is it developed?
4 Service and loyalty are inseparable. There must be unswerving continuance in Jehovah’s service, and this is the keynote for developing loyalty. To joyfully and willingly serve the Kingdom interests, taking fullest advantage of the small opportunities as well as the large ones, is necessary if we would have loyalty. Those who want to be loyal must study Jehovah’s Word and learn his ways, understand the principles upon which he acts, and his motives, and at the same time learn how to depart from the ways of the wicked. “Happy the man who never goes by the advice of the ungodly, . . . but finds his joy in the Eternal’s law, poring over it day and night.”—Ps. 1:1, 2, Mo.
5. How is Jehovah’s name involved in our loyalty?
5 The witnesses stand loyal to Jehovah’s name though today it is reproached and blasphemed. They remain true and believe in Him and disregard the dishonor and shame those of this world heap upon them. The prophetic word speaks of this condition, saying: “‘Tis for thy sake that I have suffered taunts, had insults cover me with shame, . . . ’Tis zeal for thy house that wears me away, and taunts against thee fall on me. When I chastened my soul with fasting, men jeered at me; when I clothed myself in sackcloth, I became their byword; men make a jest of me in public, they put me into their maudlin songs.” (Ps. 69:7-12, Mo) If we would be loyal then such things must be borne. The apostle Paul said, “For even Christ did not please himself; but just as it is written: ‘The reproaches of those who were reproaching you have fallen upon me.’” (Rom. 15:3, NW) We are a name-people and must live up to his name, must therefore know what the name means, what it stands for, why we are his people, and know how to praise and magnify it. Yes, we must grow to love it so much that we are hurt when men speak evilly of it, that we would defend it even as we would defend ourselves. Jehovah has honored us with the revelation of his name and planted it in our midst, therefore we have to learn how to obey all commands in that name from the great King of Zion, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the chosen One, the ‘top stone of the corner’, God’s great Prophet, and he must be listened to and strictly obeyed.
6. Explain ways of disloyalty among brothers.
6 In the Lord’s organization itself, loyalty or disloyalty can be demonstrated in so many ways. One may conclude his assigned place is subordinate to some other person’s assignment, and, by reason of the fact that he has more education and human ability, he feels superior to the one whom the Lord has placed in the superior position. In entertaining such thoughts, he is dropping the shield of faith and permitting poisonous arrows to enter his mind, and very quickly he may become disloyal. Whereas a loyal brother would remember who he is, how the truth has enlightened his mind, and that all he knows about Jehovah, the King, and the Kingdom has come through the ministration of the “faithful and discreet slave”. He knows that even as Jehovah gave the knowledge of the truth, so he can take it away. So in pondering these things he does not exalt himself against his brother, but will count it a privilege to serve with him. He thereby is manifesting loyalty to the rule of operation. Or a person’s loyalty may be tested by seemingly unjust treatment. There may be no expression of regret or sorrow offered by the other, and he may feel sorely grieved, but his loyalty is evidenced by his joyful and patient endurance of the trial, knowing “God makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God”. (Rom. 8:28, NW) Another brother may be forsaken by his fleshly family and by some he thought were his friends. What will he do? Loyally abide by God’s rule of action?—Luke 14:26, NW.
7, 8. Give example of loyalty and disloyalty thirty years ago, and the result.
7 Back in the troublous times of 1918-1922 there were severe testings among God’s people. The Lord had appeared at the temple for judgment. The question was, Who would stand loyally on Jehovah’s side, remaining steadfast, immovable? “But who may endure the day of his coming? And who is he that can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ alkali.” (Mal. 3:2, Ro) Jehovah through his Judge at the temple tested the hearts of his people and rejected thousands, because they were selfish and disloyal. After being fed and directed through the faithful legal governing body, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, for thirty years, many said, “Jehovah is also dealing through other agencies.” Thus they could advance their own selfish interests. The loyal ones stood by the Lord’s organization. They produced proof of his direction and opposed those who were disloyal. They fought for Jehovah’s ways, and though the fight continued for years, the loyal ones won out, and the disloyal were removed. There are hundreds of thousands happy in the knowledge of the truth today as a result.
8 Yes, the disloyal ones would have prevented the truth’s going to the people in general, for they said, “The harvest is over and the Lord’s work is done. Now we have to wait to be gathered to the Lord in heaven.” The loyal ones said, “Jehovah is revealing more truth. The work is not over, and we are going to prosecute such work regardless of your negligence and your charges that the Lord is not dealing through the Watch Tower Society.” Believing the truth was theirs, the disloyal ones left and tried to create more light, but the spark they had died out, as all sparks do when separated from the main fire. They vanish in the air, and so also did the disloyal ones. Even in the closing days of this evil system there are a few who show their wrong condition of heart by disloyal conduct. Do not be concerned because such disloyal ones seem to have a spark of light, rather consider where they got that spark, and where it will lead them. Will it bring one into close association and unity with God’s people, or put one farther away from them? Will it really unite the faithful, or rather is it a deception to follow other men’s ideas?
9. To ‘pull away the shoulder’ means what?
9 Actually such actions create discord, for one goes one way and the rest the other. Then the issue arises, Who is right? Division is there already, and not unity. Those who love Jehovah’s ways will be loyal and true and not waver under test. It is Jehovah’s honor and vindication we are after, and not that of any individual. If they will not put their shoulder to the wheel and help forward the Lord’s work, leave them to their own devices. “Let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart. But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder.” (Zech. 7:10, 11, AS) “Yet they dealt proudly and hearkened not unto thy commandments and against thy regulations they sinned, the which, if any son of earth shall do, then shall he live by them, and yielded a rebellious shoulder, and their neck they stiffened and hearkened not.” (Neh. 9:29, Ro) Disaster will come to those who know the way of Jehovah, who have fed at the Lord’s table and then who yield a rebellious shoulder. Their responsibility is great, for they are disloyal to God’s organization and leading others into disloyalty.
10. Is loyalty still on test? Explain.
10 All Jehovah’s witnesses are having their loyalty tested in one way or another. Often it is the small things that test. Not only was there the testing time from 1918 to 1922, but it has continued since those days, for great persecution began to come upon the congregation in Germany in 1933, through the now defunct and disgraced Nazi organization. Then from 1939 through to the end of World War II the greatest persecution ever inflicted upon God’s people came, and this in practically all parts of the world, but the faithful stood loyal to the will of God. The great combat between the nations provided the false religionists the opportunity they wanted to wreak their hatred upon God’s own chosen ones, and terrible hurt was imposed. But the obedient ones were truly loyal to Jehovah’s rule of action. They refused to compromise, break down or deviate from the truth. They were loyal.
SCRIPTURAL EXAMPLES OF LOYALTY
11. Relate briefly David’s loyalty at the time God’s ark was being brought to Jerusalem.
11 The purity of David’s service is always pleasant to think upon, and he sets an example for all true lovers of righteousness. Certainly he had his human weaknesses, for which he always craved forgiveness with repentant heart, but he was never hypocritical or presumptuous. To Jehovah he remained true and magnified Him at all times. For instance, when the ark was being brought up from the house of Obed-edom, the Gittite: “David whirled before the Eternal with all his might in the dance, wearing only a linen kilt around his middle; this was how David and all the house of Israel brought up the Eternal’s ark with shouts and blasts of the trumpet.” Afterward “David went home to greet his family, but Saul’s daughter Michal came out to meet David, saying, ‘Fine honour did the king of Israel gain to-day, exposing himself before women, before his own menials, as any loose fellow would expose himself indecently!’ David said to Michal, ‘It was in the Eternal’s presence that I was dancing! Blessed be the Eternal, who chose me rather than your father or any of his family, appointing me prince over Israel the people of the Eternal! When I sport in the Eternal’s presence, I count myself too humble for that honour!—I am not honouring myself!’” (2 Sam. 6:14, 15, 20-22, Mo) David stood loyally by Jehovah’s honor and, when scorned and hated by his own wife for doing so, he did not flinch or back down. There were also the two occasions when he could have slain King Saul. Why did he spare him? Not because he loved him, nor because he had married his daughter, but because of loyalty to Jehovah and his word involving the anointed king. “Touch not mine anointed ones, and do my prophets no harm.” (1 Chron. 16:22, AS) This rule was established hundreds of years before in Abraham’s time. Jehovah’s anointed is the apple of his eye.—Gen. 26:11; Deut. 32:10; Zech. 2:8.
12. How did Joseph demonstrate loyalty in Potiphar’s house, and how may we profit thereby?
12 Joseph’s experience in the house of Potiphar also illustrates loyalty. So dependable was he that everything concerning his master’s business had been left in his hands, and he practically exercised equal authority. At this time female profligacy was fearfully common, and Potiphar’s wife was no exception. Undoubtedly induced by Joseph’s beauty, power, vigor and manliness, shamelessly and with repeated importunity she solicited him. In such a situation most men would have fallen; but Joseph held fast to his integrity, not only toward his confiding employer, but also to his God, Jehovah. In answer to the woman’s enticement, he said: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” He hated the sin, and could not remain to protest, lest he should be overcome. So he shunned the society that would lead to it. The unholy passion of Potiphar’s wife turning to bitter hatred, she used the innocent Joseph’s garment to falsely accuse him. The furious husband had Joseph placed in irons. Jehovah did not forget him, for in time the entire prison discipline was placed under his control. He must have been there a considerable time, because a period of thirteen years elapsed from the time when the record concerning him began to the time when he stood before Pharaoh after release from prison.—Gen. 39:9, 22; 37:2; 41:46.
13. In what manner did Moses fall to prove loyal? With what result?
13 Jehovah’s disapproval of disloyal acts on the part of his servants is seen by the experiences of Aaron, Miriam and, in one case, even of Moses. In the case of Moses it was at Meribah, during the last year in the wilderness, when the children of Israel were murmuring against him for bringing them into this place where they had no water. Jehovah commanded Moses, “Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, that it give forth its water; and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock.” Moses assembled the people and said, “Hear now, ye rebels; shall we bring you forth water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and smote the rock with his rod twice: and water came forth abundantly.” Jehovah then said to Moses, “Because ye believed not in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Num. 20:5-12, AS) Though Moses will be resurrected and granted a reward in the new world, yet God’s displeasure was shown at Meribah, for he is no respecter of persons. Aaron might have checked the intemperate words and acts of Moses but did not, and therefore he also was guilty of sin, and he was punished by being deprived of precious privileges.—Num. 20:24-28.
14, 15. Explain how Miriam and Aaron were disloyal. What lessons are there for us, and how do some today follow their example?
14 Miriam was disloyal in not recognizing her brother Moses as Jehovah’s one and only chosen servant. Aaron was also party to this disloyal action. They said, “Hath Jehovah indeed spoken only with Moses? hath he not spoken also with us?” Jehovah knew their thoughts, so gathered the three together and upheld his servant Moses and in his displeasure struck Miriam with leprosy, which was later healed through the intercession of Moses. (Num. 12:1-16, AS) Miriam thereafter died at Kadesh. Disloyalty against his chosen servant was not tolerated by Jehovah.
15 It is the same today, even though we are so very near the new world. While Jehovah has so clearly manifested his approval on the “faithful and discreet slave”, some use almost the same words: ‘Is it only and solely with the “faithful and discreet slave” that Jehovah has spoken? Has he not also spoken through us?’ Such persons have encouraged themselves in high ideas, permitted pride and selfishness to take control, and conclude that they have been used in years gone by, so why should they not have a part in governing spiritual Israel today? Should they not be heard also? These persons are taking themselves too seriously, are presumptuous and disloyal. It may be they will not call into question the honor belonging to the “faithful and discreet slave”, but want to know why they should not be heard also. Exactly Miriam and Aaron’s trouble! It is worthy of note that all three, Moses, Miriam and Aaron, failed to enter the Promised Land, for they all died in the fortieth year of the sojourning in the wilderness.—Num. 33:38; 20:1; Deut. 34:1, 5.
LOYALTY TO THE ONE SANCTUARY
16. Why did Jehovah have only one sanctuary with natural Israel? And why only one today? Explain.
16 The place of worship is the altar, and is the appointed place for sacrifice. A place of worship first must be chosen by Jehovah, and according to law only the place dedicated is permitted to be used. (Ex. 20:24; Deut. 12:5, 11) The sanctuary is to be one only, that God’s people may be kept in theocratic unity. (1 Ki. 12:27) In Israel’s day there grew up a multiplicity of places promoting the growth of idol worship. The tabernacle was the center of Israel and the right worship meant the unity of Israel, at the place God chose, where he was pleased to dwell. Following the death of King Solomon great rebellion came among God’s people and they divided and the king of Israel said, “If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem, then will the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah; . . . Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold; and he said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin.” (1 Ki. 12:27-30, AS) Jeroboam was not adhering to God’s rule of action. Jehovah’s law was being flouted and the king was completely disloyal to Jehovah and his chosen sanctuary. In these last days some ignore the chosen place of meeting, where God speaks to his people, around the “faithful and discreet slave”, using always the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. This is the place chosen and proved so for nearly seventy years. Those who choose their own places for worship and service and teach others likewise run the risk of being completely cut off from the congregation, even as it was with the typical people. (Lev. 17:4) They are disloyal to Jehovah and his chosen organization.
17. Moses’ loyalty against false worship revealed what? Why should we not grow weary?
17 When Aaron built the golden calf, yielding to the demands of the people, Moses loyally stood for Jehovah against this false worship. He took up his position at the gate of the camp and said, “Whoso is on Jehovah’s side, let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.” (Ex. 32:26, AS) A decision had to be made, for Jehovah had been insulted and his instituted arrangements ignored. In like manner some now grow weary of waiting, and think that something has gone wrong with the “faithful and discreet slave”, because events do not come to pass as they believe they should. Weariness in waiting betrays many to temptation. If we wait we shall not lose our labor, but those who start things going on their own certainly do, and furthermore they ignore and insult the Lord and his recognized servant.
18. What does the loyalty of the three Hebrew children show, and how does their loyal stand help us today?
18 True loyalty is shown by the three Hebrew children; and this clearly teaches that great though the distinction may be between king and subject yet such distinction is lost when collision occurs between loyalty and duty to Jehovah and obedience to men’s laws. These three men were obedient to law, and the law of obedience and loyalty to it was the first law. They had done nothing in defiance of the king, only refusing (and that not ostentatiously) compliance with a command that violated the right of conscience. Surely their abstinence because of conscience was not to the injury of others. They were not persuading others to do the same, though other Israelites were strengthened by their loyal adherence to God’s law. Their minds were decisive in the test and the ready answer was, “Be it known unto thee, O king.” These men were ‘rendering to Caesar what belonged to him’, and making sure Jehovah received what belonged to him. When Caesar arrogates to himself the things which are Jehovah’s, then his authority is to be resisted. God does not want Caesar’s things. With these men the issue was turn or burn, but true devotion and loyalty to Jehovah calms the spirit in critical times, and with exemplary calmness they gave their answer. In calmer days they had sworn to be faithful and loyal to God’s will, and now the test was on. They met it withstanding all the opposition, even the threat of the king, and the penalty of the fiery furnace. So today, do not let precious time slip away and then hope for the best under test. Know now and be personally convinced, so that when faced with any emergency you will know what to do. The right answer will then be given and you need not be ashamed, nor afraid, to own up to what you believe. Firm persuasion of the truth will deliver you from denying Jehovah and his Son.
COVENANT OF SALT
19. What is the “covenant of salt”, and why was it made with David?
19 Eighteen years after the revolt in Israel, Jeroboam, king of Israel, warred against Abijah, king of Judah, and before the fight Abijah called to the rebel king, “Ought ye not to know that Jehovah, the God of Israel, gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?” (2 Chron. 13:5, 6, AS) What is the “covenant of salt”? Jehovah commanded, “And every oblation of thy meal-offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meal-offering: with all thine oblations thou shalt offer salt.” (Lev. 2:13, AS; see also Numbers 18:19.) Salt is a preservative from putrefaction and decay, and therefore speaks of purity and permanence. Its unalterable nature shows steadfastness and immutability. In olden times it is reported that to eat salt with another was a sign of hospitality and fidelity, a bond of perpetual friendship or pledge of fidelity. It was a pledge of loyalty. (Ezra 4:14) Hence the covenant of salt Jehovah made with David would stand unbroken forever, and Abijah reminded this treacherous, disloyal king of the covenant, but to no avail. With an army twice as large, he attacked Abijah, but was defeated.
20, 21. What did Jesus mean by the statement at Mark 9:49, 50?
20 The Lord Jesus said, “For everyone must be salted with fire. Salt is fine; but if ever the salt loses its strength, with what will you mix it? Have salt in yourselves, and keep peace between one another.” (Mark 9:49, 50, NW) Without doubt the heat of persecution will not harm any who are loyal, and the testings and trials resulting from the presence of the great Judge will be for the purifying and cleansing of God’s people. (Mal. 3:2-4) If the spiritual salt is not there then there is corruption and decay. If in our sacrifice to Jehovah God we do not have fidelity, trustworthiness and loyalty then we are good for nothing. It is very necessary that we have confidence in our brothers that they will care for and be dependable in service. We must be at peace, but this is impossible unless we have loyalty, dependability and integrity ourselves. We must have ‘salt in ourselves’. It keeps us in the service, vigorous, quick, acceptable, thorough and with brotherly love.
21 Those who offer themselves voluntarily to Jehovah’s service must expect to fall a sacrifice to the fire of persecution. As every sacrifice is first prepared with salt before being consumed with fire, so we must be pure in heart, loyal to the extent of making sure it is a sacrifice to the Lord. Yes, even cutting ourselves off from everything that would be an obstacle to performing our part of the agreement. ‘He will be faithful who has promised.’ (Heb. 10:23) For us to partake of the “covenant of salt” must mean there is no deceit, dishonesty or hypocrisy in our agreement with Jehovah, that we would never do anything to dishonor or betray him. To partake of salt would certainly speak of loyalty. How reprehensible and terrible, therefore, was the act of Judas Iscariot who sat and ate at the Lord’s table! “He that dips his hand with me in the bowl is the one that will betray me.” “But, look! the hand of my betrayer is with me at the table.” Eating at the same table and yet at that time meditating betrayal!—Matt. 26:23; Luke 22:21, NW.
22. How important is it to remain loyal to Jehovah’s servant? and how are Jehovah’s people the salt of the earth today?
22 How awful a calamity befalls those who have been eating spiritual bread and salt at the table of the Lord today as provided by “the faithful and discreet slave”, and then withdraw and set up their own table and hope to draw the Lord with them. Not only have they broken friendship and shown disloyalty but encouraged others to do the same. Let us grasp the situation right. There is no question that Jehovah’s witnesses are the salt of the earth, just as Noah was when a world was passing away then. Just as salt saves from corruption, so Noah and his family were a remnant saved. They commenced the world’s population, resulting in the millions who have lived since. No one of Adam’s stock would be living today had it not been for Jehovah’s faithful one then. It is the same now. “In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”—Matt. 24:22, NW.
LAW OF JEHOVAH
23. What are the two greatest commandments, and if we are loyal to them what is the result? and what should we do to be approved of God?
23 “Jesus answered: ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.” The second is this: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” (Mark 12:29-31, NW) This means devoting all to Jehovah; and it cannot be concluded that as long as one loves Jehovah he is at liberty to hurt others, for the second commandment must be obeyed, and no one can love God and at the same time hurt his neighbor. James named this “the kingly law”. Where Scriptural responsibilities toward our families are few, those dedicated to Jehovah should question if they are giving fullest expression in service. We are not commanded to love Caesar with all our strength, and it is impossible to give all our love and strength to Jehovah and to Caesar at the same time. Because of possible demands upon our time and strength by others than Jehovah, trials will come, and each one must decide whom he will obey first. Perhaps you will be instructed to perform some act which would mean disobedience to the “kingly law” according to the scripture, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Jas. 2:8, NW) Question yourself: Would you hurt yourself in such a way? If not, then you must obey God first. Your loyalty to Jehovah and his law will give you a clear and clean conscience and bring you reward. Jehovah’s laws are universally supreme. Demands will be made upon the brothers because of emergency situations and dire circumstances, but always keep in mind that no situation could possibly cancel your primary responsibility to the all-powerful, almighty and all-wise Creator. Loyalty is on test. Obey God first and trust in him completely and the result will be right, whereas if you give way to disloyalty the outcome, so far as you are concerned, will be disastrous. Meditate upon God’s Word and will, and then act accordingly. Listen to Jehovah’s great Prophet, Christ Jesus, and you will live.