The Wages of Disloyalty
THERE is no place in any arrangement of God or man for a disloyal person. This is especially true of those placed in positions of responsibility. “What is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful,” the Bible says.—1 Cor. 4:2.
When Jesus Christ was on earth twelve men had the unparalleled opportunity to be his close associates—to learn directly from him and to be his most responsible disciples. One of them, however, lost appreciation and turned disloyal, causing great trouble for Jesus and the eleven faithful apostles. Judas Iscariot’s disloyalty forfeited for him the marvelous prize of heavenly life as an associate king and an underpriest of Christ. He was dismissed from Jesus’ intimate group before Jesus instituted the Memorial meal and he missed out on Christ’s promise to the faithful eleven that “you are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom.”—Luke 22:28, 29; 13:22-30.
What were the wages of Judas’ disloyalty? On one side of the “ledger,” a mere thirty pieces of silver (the price of a slave if killed by a man’s bull)—on the other side, God’s disfavor and death. (Ex. 21:32) Even Jesus’ enemies, with whom Judas collaborated, despised this traitor. After Jesus was condemned by the Jewish high court, Judas suffered terrible mental anguish, to the point that he threw the betrayal money away and went out and hanged himself. This was not in true repentance, but because he saw that he had lost out on everything. Jesus called him “the son of destruction.”—John 17:12; Matt. 27:3-10.
EACH ONE MUST WATCH HIMSELF
Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven he formed the Christian congregation, on Pentecost day of the year 33 C.E. There the “faithful and discreet slave” class, with Jesus’ apostles taking the lead, began to feed the individuals in God’s newly formed ‘household of faith’ with spiritual food. (Acts 2:1, 14, 46, 47) This “slave” class, the spirit-anointed Christian congregation, would remain loyal right down to the time of Christ’s coming to destroy the present wicked system of things.—Matt. 28:18-20.
Nevertheless, Jesus gave a warning to them with respect to loyalty. Why? Well, as a class, God’s congregation would remain faithful. The Bible shows that the foreordained number of 144,000 would be completed. That number would eventually be “sealed” as faithful. (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5) Thus ‘all [spiritual] Israel [or, the Israel of God] would be saved.’ (Rom. 11:26; compare Galatians 6:16.) But as to individuals who would make up that body, or that “slave” class, each one was to be tried, tested and required to prove his integrity and loyalty. “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved,” Jesus said.—Matt. 24:13; Jas. 1:3; Rev. 14:12.
Accordingly, after speaking of the “faithful and discreet slave” that would be loyal till his coming, Jesus went on to say: “But if that evil slave should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying,’ and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards [literally, the (ones) getting drunk], the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, and will punish him with the greatest severity (literally, he will cut asunder him] and will assign him his part with the hypocrites.”—Matt. 24:48-51; Luke 12:45, 46, Kingdom Interlinear Translation.
We note that Jesus did not say that the “faithful and discreet slave” would turn disloyal. But, as to the individual members of that “slave” class, Jesus merely indicated the possibility that not all would be loyal, just as one of the twelve, Judas, after a right start, had turned out bad. Jehovah God will have only loyal, tested ones as inheritors of the Kingdom. (2 Pet. 1:10, 11) Jesus therefore warned each one of his spirit-begotten, anointed followers to watch himself. He said to all his disciples: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:36.
THE ACTIONS OF AN “EVIL SLAVE” AND HIS REWARD
Consequently, each individual had to keep a close watch, not becoming self-assured, negligent or sleepy. The apostle Paul counseled: “Let him that thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12) Certainly the time was past for getting drunk, either on literal wine, or in a spiritual way with the religious drunkards.—Isa. 29:9; 1 Pet. 4:3.
Jesus described, at Matthew 24:48-51, how the individual who becomes unfaithful would think, speak and act. Some of those who were once members of the “slave” class would lose their joy of anticipation and would tire of waiting for the Master’s coming. They would become self-seeking. Those taking such a course would become friends of the world, hence enemies of God. (Jas. 4:4) They would start to ‘beat their fellow slaves’ in a verbal way, opposing them and their work of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. In these “last days” there are some of such who constitute a class that, according to their conduct, do not recognize the invisible presence of Christ and do not discern and acknowledge that the time is at hand for his coming to destroy the world system of things.
This ‘beating their fellow slaves’ in a verbal way would be because they wanted to dominate or exercise power over others. They desired a high position so that they would be looked up to. But they could not achieve their ambition. Christ would not let any such disloyal ones have domination over or break up his congregation and stop the work it is doing. Instead, on inspection, Christ would “cut asunder” such ones, cutting such individuals off from the “faithful and discreet slave” class.
Though Christ described the conduct that would characterize disloyal ones, he certainly did not foreordain them to be such. They take the course of disloyalty according to their own free will and desires. They are similar to the “wicked and sluggish slave” of the parable of the talents. (Matt. 25:24-30) They are disloyal, unfaithful ‘stewards’ and therefore cannot remain in Christ’s ‘household staff’ of “domestics.” (Matt. 24:45) The Christianity of such ones turns out to be hypocritical and they belong with the religious hypocrites of Christendom. In fact, some of them actually have returned to belief in the false doctrines of Christendom, such as the Trinity, immortality of the human soul and literal torment in an everlasting ‘hellfire.’ Some have allied themselves with Christendom’s churches and their efforts to oppose Jehovah’s witnesses in preaching the good news.
Among the hypocrites of Christendom these disloyal ones find no real spiritual pleasure and they must share the experiences of those hypocrites. As for such an evil “slave,” “there is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be,” Jesus said. (Matt. 24:51) Their expressions are not those of true repentance, but are those of vexation and disappointment, a “sadness of the world” that “produces death.” (2 Cor. 7:10) They have no desire to associate or work with the “faithful and discreet slave” in true service to the Master.
A TIME OF SERIOUS CONCERN TO ALL
Since Christ says that he will execute judgment, which ‘begins at the house of God,’ it is vital for everyone taking a stand alongside the “faithful and discreet slave” class to watch himself. (1 Pet. 4:17) He should constantly examine himself as to his own loyalty. He knows that faithfulness from the heart is required. In these days it is possible to fall prey to “the sin that easily entangles us”—the loss of faith. (Heb. 12:1) There is all the more danger of doing so now because the Devil knows that he has but a short time and is waging strenuous warfare against God’s spirit-begotten, anointed ones on earth as well as any who associate and cooperate with them in preaching the good news of the Kingdom.—Rev. 12:12, 17; compare 1 Peter 5:8.
Seeing clearly the fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy concerning our time—recognizing the “sign” proving we are living in the “conclusion of the system of things,” we need to ‘lift our heads up because our deliverance is getting near.’ Also, we must give earnest attention to ourselves and the lives we live. While Jesus was talking for the benefit of his disciples with him right then, he also said: “What I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.”—Mark 13:37; Luke 21:28.
The situation, therefore, is a serious one for all. The apostle Peter summed up our position when he said: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt! But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell. Hence, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.”—2 Pet. 3:11-14.
Consequently, while there are many temptations and even difficult tests, the wages to the loyal one are God’s favor, happiness, peace and everlasting life. On the other hand, disloyalty may give some satisfaction to fleshly desires for a short time, but it soon ends up paying only unhappiness, disgrace and death.