Are You a Loyal Christian?
What does it mean and take to be loyal?
THE man was a newspaper correspondent in Beirut, Lebanon, for two of London’s leading dailies. He had been educated in one of England’s best schools, had a charming wife and several fine children. Then suddenly one day he fled to Russia. Why? Because his disloyalty to his government had been uncovered. Other nations also have their sensational cases, one of the latest being Sweden’s Wennerström.
Disloyalty to governments, however, is but one facet of the modern erosion of loyalty. Even more widespread is disloyalty on the part of marriage partners, as can be seen from the skyrocketing divorce rates. Yet even the divorce rates do not begin to tell the whole story as to marital disloyalty, as can be seen from the vice ring that was uncovered early this year in a fashionable suburb of New York City. For “call girls,” a polite name for prostitutes or harlots, it employed none other than respected housewives of the community who sold themselves for a price!
But most prevalent and notorious of all is the lack of loyalty to God and his Word, the Bible, on the part of those who claim to be Christians, with many of the clergy taking the lead. Such religious leaders make no secret of their disloyalty, as can be seen by their sermons and books in which they deny the personality of God and the inspiration of the Bible. The laity likewise betray their disloyalty by abysmal ignorance of the Bible, by materialism and by greedy pursuit of pleasure instead of earnest worship of God.
More areas in which there is disloyalty could be cited, but the foregoing should suffice to show how prevalent it is. This sad state of affairs calls to mind what prevailed during the eighth century B.C.E. in the two-tribe kingdom of Judah. Concerning it God caused his prophet to write: “The loyal one has perished from the earth, and among mankind there is no upright one.”—Mic. 7:2.
WHAT IS LOYALTY?
Among the definitions given for “loyalty” is “tenacious adherence.” It is said to be “essentially personal and moral, based on individual choice.” It applies to “all relations of trust and confidence: as a loyal subject; a loyal friend.” It is “fidelity in duty, service, love, etc.” Although loyalty generally “includes both principle and sentiment,” at times it is used in the sense of allegiance, with the emphasis on principle rather than on sentiment.
Apparently the meaning and value of loyalty has not always been fully appreciated by Bible translators, for the term in its various forms does not appear once in the King James and the American Standard Versions. However, due to the light that has been thrown on the original languages of the Bible it does appear in such modern versions as the New World Translation, in fact, many, many times.
It will help us to understand the exact meaning of “loyal” if we compare it with another word with which it has much in common, although it is not wholly synonymous with it, namely, “faithful.” For example, an animal, such as a dog, can be said to be faithful, for to be faithful means to be dependable, to be constant. But a dog cannot be spoken of as being loyal, because loyalty always includes principle, which only free moral agents, such as man, are able to exercise.
The difference between the two terms can also be seen from the fact that it is common to speak of certain inanimate things that are regular or dependable as being faithful. For instance, such inanimate things as the sun, moon and stars may be spoken of as faithful, or dependable, but they are not capable of personal attachment or of moral stability.—Ps. 89:37.
LOYALTY TO GOD
Since loyalty is such a fine quality, it is to be expected that the Creator would require it of his creatures. And in doing so he is consistent, for he himself is loyal. As God-fearing David expressed it: “With someone loyal you will act in loyalty; with the faultless, mighty one you will deal faultlessly.” Expressing a similar thought, we find God pleading by means of his prophet Jeremiah with the nation of Israel, which had become renegade, to return to Him, “for I am loyal.” Being loyal in a way that none of his creatures can be, he is spoken of in the Bible as the only one loyal: “Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal?”—2 Sam. 22:26; Jer. 3:12; Rev. 15:4.
What does it mean to be loyal to God? It means to be steadfast in a strong love for him, recognizing one’s obligation to him as the great Sovereign and Benefactor. To be loyal to God means to be governed by his will as that will is made known in his Word, the Bible. Every day you have opportunities to show that you are loyal to God. You show such loyalty when you let yourself be guided by his righteous principles instead of selfishness; when you are not ashamed to do what is right even though it is unpopular and brings ridicule upon you. In particular do you show you are loyal to God when you are not ashamed to confess him before men, when, with freeness of speech, you witness to his existence, his righteous qualities and his purposes for man.
Of course, as a Christian you would never be disloyal to any government under which you live nor to the employer for whom you work, nor to your marriage partner, yet you should always bear in mind that being loyal to your God comes first. Your loyalty to God may at times circumscribe your loyalty to others, but it will never make you disloyal to them. For example, your loyalty to God may preclude your attending the same house of worship as does your wife, but you will not be disloyal to her by having an affair with another woman. In other words, your loyalty to God alone is absolute, to all others it is relative, but only because of its being absolute in relation to God.
LOYALTY BETWEEN CREATURES
Have you entered into a marital relationship? If so, you and your mate have entered into a mutual agreement to be loyal to each other and this loyalty should be shown not only in big things but also in little ones. Are you a husband? Loyalty not only requires that you provide for your wife but that you limit your sex interest, or attempts to derive sexual pleasure, to your wife. For a married man to flirt with other women may seem a trifle, but it is disloyalty nevertheless and can easily lead to more serious, grosser forms of disloyalty.—Prov. 5:15-20; Matt. 5:28.
Among other ways in which you can show your loyalty to your wife is by being careful not to make any disparaging remarks about her or betray to others any of her weaknesses that you may get to know so well because of living so intimately with her. More than that, you will come to the defense of your wife whenever she is threatened, not only as to bodily harm, but also as regards unkind words from others.—1 Pet. 3:7.
Are you a wife? Loyalty likewise requires of you that you do not flirt with other men, that you do not make public your husband’s faults and that you come to his defense when he is under attack in one way or another. But perhaps your chief test of loyalty will be in the matter of submission. Suppose your husband seems to be unreasonable, arbitrary, bossy, and in other ways leaves much to be desired in the way he exercises his headship. Regardless of all that, loyalty requires you to make allowances and bear it silently as far as outsiders are concerned.
Loyalty is also required of Christians in their relations to the “superior authorities,” the governments of this world. But this is a relative loyalty, circumscribed by your loyalty to God. Because Christians can be loyal both to God and to earthly governments they can take oaths of allegiance to defend the Constitution, as is required of citizens in some countries in order to get a passport. The principle involved in all this is the one stated by Jesus: “Pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.”—Mark 12:17.
Do you have a particular friend? Then you have also the obligation to be loyal to him, sticking up for him even as a good wife would stick up for her husband. More than that, a true friend delights to come to the aid of his companion in time of adversity. As the Bible tells us: “A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.” Such was the friendship between David and Jonathan. Material advantage counted for nothing. Jonathan remained true to David even though David replaced him as heir to Israel’s throne, and he took David’s side in speaking to his father even at the risk of his life. That was loyalty!—Prov. 17:17; 1 Sam. 20:15, 32, 33.
There should be this same loyalty between all the members of the Christian congregation. The fact that another is a fellow believer should make one want to be loyal to that one and ready to come to his defense. Everyone makes mistakes and, except in the case of gross sins, a Christian can usually find extenuating circumstances when a fellow Christian has erred.
Today disloyalty is rampant throughout the world because men pursue the course of selfishness and follow the line of least resistance. It is the foolish course that can lead only to death. In striking contrast to such disloyalty is the loyalty of the great Creator, Jehovah God. He has proved himself loyal ever since there were creatures toward whom he could be loyal. He has had loyal men on earth from Abel on to the present time in spite of all that was brought against them in the way of temptation and opposition. Because of their loyalty they can be assured of Jehovah’s favor and protection. “Jehovah is a lover of justice, and he will not leave his loyal ones.”—Ps. 37:28.
Blessed be Jehovah the God of Israel, because he has turned his attention and performed deliverance toward his people. And he has raised up a horn of salvation for us . . . to grant us, after we have been rescued from the hands of enemies, the privilege of fearlessly rendering sacred service to him with loyalty and righteousness before him all our days.—Luke 1:68-75.