Loyalty—At What Price?
“With someone loyal you will act in loyalty.”—PSALM 18:25.
1, 2. (a) What is loyalty, and how do its facets affect our lives? (b) Why is it good to turn to Jehovah as our outstanding Example?
FAITHFULNESS, duty, love, obligation, allegiance. What do these words have in common? They are different facets of loyalty. Loyalty is a godly quality that stems from heartfelt devotion. For many people today, however, loyalty means little. Faithfulness to a marriage mate, obligations to older family members, allegiance of an employee to his employer—all are casual and often compromised. And what happens when a conflict of loyalties arises? Recently, in England, when an accountant told the truth about his company’s finances to the tax inspectors, he lost his job.
2 It is easy merely to speak of loyalty, but true loyalty has to be backed by action that does not involve fearful compromise. As imperfect humans, we often fail in this. So it is good for us to consider the example of one whose loyalty cannot successfully be questioned, Jehovah God himself.
3. How has Jehovah proved loyal to his purpose stated at Genesis 3:15?
3 When Adam sinned, Jehovah clearly expressed his purpose to redeem the human family that was as yet unborn. The basis for this action was his love for his human creation. (John 3:16) In due time, Jesus Christ, the seed of promise foretold at Genesis 3:15, proved to be the ransom sacrifice, and it would have been unthinkable for Jehovah to renege on his expressed purpose. In accepting Jesus’ sacrifice, our faith will not lead to disappointment.—Romans 9:33.
4. How did Jehovah prove loyal to Jesus, and with what result?
4 Jehovah’s loyalty to Jesus greatly strengthened the Son during his time on earth. Jesus knew that he must face death, and he was firmly resolved to remain loyal to his God to the end. Fuller knowledge of his prehuman existence was revealed to him at his baptism and anointing by holy spirit. On the night of his betrayal, he prayed to be restored to his heavenly Father, to ‘the glory that he had alongside Jehovah before the world was.’ (John 17:5) How was this going to be possible? Only by Jehovah’s not leaving his loyal Son in the grave to see corruption. Jehovah raised him from death to immortality, thus loyally fulfilling the prophetic promise recorded at Psalm 16:10: “You will not leave my soul in Sheol.”—Acts 2:24-31; 13:35; Revelation 1:18.
5. What other loyal acts relate to Jehovah’s promises to Jesus?
5 Following his resurrection, Jesus likewise knew that he could rely on Jehovah’s utterance to ‘place his enemies as a stool for his feet.’ (Psalm 110:1) That time arrived in 1914, at the end of “the appointed times of the nations,” with the establishing of the Kingdom in the heavens. The promised ascendancy of Jesus over his enemies began with the ousting of Satan and his demons from heaven. It will culminate when they are abyssed for a thousand years and “the kings of the earth and their armies” have been destroyed.—Luke 21:24; Revelation 12:7-12; 19:19; 20:1-3.
6. What assured hope does God extend to us, and how can we show our appreciation for it?
6 The psalmist urged: “Hope in Jehovah and keep his way, and he will exalt you to take possession of the earth.” (Psalm 37:34) We can be confident that Jehovah will continue to keep his word, and right through the end of this wicked world, he will save men, women, and children who “keep his way.” That phrase in the original Hebrew conveys the thought of both diligence and faithfulness in serving Jehovah. Now, therefore, is not the time to grow weary or to give up privileges of service extended to us. This is the time to exert ourselves in loyal service of our God and his Kingdom. (Isaiah 35:3, 4) There are fine examples to encourage us. Let us consider some of them.
Patriarchs Reflect Loyalty
7, 8. (a) What work assignments did Jehovah extend to Noah and his family? (b) How did Noah’s household prove worthy of God’s protection during the earth-wide deluge?
7 When Jehovah purposed to destroy a wicked human society by a deluge of water, he made a covenant with the patriarchal family head Noah for the preservation of his family and the continuation of life on this earth. (Genesis 6:18) Noah was grateful for the prospect of divine protection, but he and his family had to prove worthy of it. How? By doing what Jehovah commanded. They were first confronted with the prodigious task of building the ark. When it was completed, Noah was to fill it with representatives of the animal realm and with enough food to sustain them for a long period. But that was not all. During the extended time of preparation, Noah was doing all that he could in an unprecedented preaching work, warning of the divine judgment to come.—Genesis, chapters 6 and 7; 2 Peter 2:5.
8 The Bible tells us that “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” (Genesis 6:22; 7:5) Noah and his family proved loyal in fulfilling their assignments. Their self-sacrificing spirit meant that their time was spent profitably, but the task was hard and the preaching difficult. By their not producing children before the Flood, Noah’s sons and their wives were helped to concentrate on the assigned work at hand and to coordinate their activity. That cataclysmic Flood brought a just end to a wicked world. Only Noah, his wife, and their three sons and three daughters-in-law survived. We can be glad that they were loyal to God and his directions, as every one of us is directly descended from Noah through either Shem, Ham, or Japheth.—Genesis 5:32; 1 Peter 3:20.
9. (a) How was Jehovah’s test of Abraham a test of his loyalty? (b) How did Isaac display loyalty in this?
9 When Abraham prepared to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice, he was acting in faithful obedience to Jehovah’s command. What a test of his loyalty that was! Yet, Jehovah stayed Abraham’s hand, saying: “Now I do know that you are God-fearing in that you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me.” We do well, though, to reflect on what preceded that. During the three-day trip to Mount Moriah, Abraham surely had enough time to weigh things and to change his mind. What about Isaac, who carried the wood for the sacrifice and who permitted himself to be bound hand and foot? He did not falter in his allegiance to his father, Abraham, nor did he question the role he had to play, even though it appeared that his course of loyalty would cost him his life.—Genesis 22:1-18; Hebrews 11:17.
10, 11. The early Christians provide what examples of loyalty?
10 Jehovah has always acted in true loyalty. “Become imitators of God,” urges the apostle Paul. (Ephesians 5:1, 2) As the patriarchs responded, so Christians were to respond. The early Christians set fine examples in loyal worship, as the following experience shows.
11 Roman emperor Constantius I, father of Emperor Constantine, apparently had deep respect for the followers of Jesus Christ. To test the loyalty of Christians attached to his palace, he told them they could remain in his service only if they agreed to sacrifice to idols. Refusal would lead to their dismissal and vengeance at his hand, they were told. By this simple ploy, Constantius wanted to identify those who would never compromise their loyalty. Those who proved loyal to God and his principles were retained in the emperor’s service, some even becoming trusted counselors. Those disloyal to God’s command were ignominiously dismissed.
12. How should Christian overseers manifest loyalty, and why is this essential for the congregation’s welfare?
12 Although loyalty must characterize the lives of all Christians, it is specifically mentioned at Titus 1:8 in the list of qualities necessary for a man to be a Christian overseer. William Barclay says that hoʹsi·os, the Greek word here translated as “loyal,” describes “the man who obeys the eternal laws which were and are before any manmade laws.” It is essential that elders take such a loyal stand of obedience to God’s laws. This right example will help the congregation to grow and be strong enough to meet all trials and pressures that may threaten it as a body or its members individually. (1 Peter 5:3) Appointed elders have a great responsibility to the flock never to compromise their loyalty to Jehovah, for the congregation is admonished to “imitate their faith.”—Hebrews 13:7.
Loyalty—At What Price?
13. What is meant by the axiom “All men have their price,” and what examples seem to bear this out?
13 “All men have their price” is an axiom attributed to Sir Robert Walpole, a British prime minister of the 18th century. It nicely sums up the fact that throughout history loyalties have often been traded for selfish gain. Consider Bible translator William Tyndale, who mistakenly accepted Henry Phillips as a loyal friend. In 1535 Phillips disloyally betrayed Tyndale to his enemies, leading to Tyndale’s immediate imprisonment and untimely death. One historian says that Phillips, probably an agent of either the English king or the English Catholics, “was well paid for his Judas-work.” The historian was alluding, of course, to Judas Iscariot, who accepted 30 pieces of silver as the price for betraying Jesus Christ. We should not conclude from these examples, however, that the “price” for a person’s loyalty is always money. It is not.
14. How was Joseph’s loyalty to Jehovah put to the test, and with what outcome?
14 When Potiphar’s wife importuned Joseph to “lie down with [her],” his loyalty to Jehovah was put to the test. What would he do? With a mind already clear on the principles involved, Joseph ran from the house, determined that he could never “commit this great badness and actually sin against God.” The prospect of sexual pleasure could not overcome Joseph’s loyalty to his God, Jehovah.—Genesis 39:7-9.
15. How did Absalom manifest disloyalty, and with what result?
15 Yet, there are other dangers; ambition can undermine loyalty. That was the motivation behind Absalom’s rebellion against his father, King David. By scheming and intrigue, Absalom sought to ingratiate himself with the people. Eventually, he raised an army to confront his father’s loyal supporters. His death at the hand of Joab brought an end to Absalom’s disloyalty to his father, David, but what a price to pay for attempting to overthrow the theocratic arrangement!—2 Samuel 15:1-12; 18:6-17.
The Loyalty That Has No Price
16. What does 2 Corinthians 11:3 reveal about Satan’s motives?
16 Though Satan claims that everybody has his price, and this was true of Absalom, it was not true of Joseph, and it has never been true of loyal worshipers of Jehovah. Nevertheless, Satan will make any offer to get us to break our loyalty to our Creator. The apostle Paul expressed his fear that “somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning,” our thinking might be corrupted, leading us to compromise our loyalty to Jehovah and worship of him.—2 Corinthians 11:3.
17. What have some traded for priceless privileges of service?
17 It is appropriate that we ask ourselves: ‘Is there any price I would accept in exchange for my privilege of loyally worshiping my Creator?’ It is a sad fact that, unlike Joseph, some who were Jehovah’s dedicated servants asked very little in exchange. Even some elders have traded their priceless privileges of sacred service for the temporary enjoyment of immoral sensual pleasures. Whether elders or not, many of those doing this have irretrievably lost family unity, the love and respect of the congregation, and the approval of Jehovah—the very One who can give strength to maintain loyalty and to resist any temptation from Satan.—Isaiah 12:2; Philippians 4:13.
18. Why is it important to heed the warning at 1 Timothy 6:9, 10?
18 Others, in ambitious determination to get on in worldly pursuits, have “stabbed themselves all over with many pains,” in spite of the Bible’s clear warnings. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Demas, a Christian mentioned by Paul, lost out on this account, either temporarily or permanently. (2 Timothy 4:10) Loyalty to Jehovah can never be compromised without disastrous results. “God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”—Galatians 6:7.
19, 20. (a) What are some of the dangers associated with excessive television viewing? (b) What example has one Witness family set?
19 Sometimes the bargaining price appears in a very subtle way. For example, a report from the United States says that many families spend about half their waking hours at home watching television, with young people particularly addicted. If a Christian was to feed his mind primarily on television, with its sex and violence, he could soon undermine his Christian principles. That could easily lead to his becoming disloyal, alienated from Jehovah. Such bad association does spoil useful habits. (1 Corinthians 15:33) We must not forget that the Scriptures admonish us to take time to study and meditate on Jehovah’s Word. Is excessive time spent relaxing in front of a television screen a fair exchange for time that could be used to acquire knowledge leading to everlasting life as a loyal worshiper of Jehovah? Many coming to a knowledge of the truth today have had to make major adjustments in their thinking in this regard.—1 Timothy 4:15, 16; 2 Timothy 2:15.
20 Takashi is a Japanese businessman living in England. He used to spend three or four hours most evenings watching television with his family. After he and his wife were baptized three years ago, he resolved that personal and family Bible study must take priority. By reducing his television viewing to a mere 15 or 30 minutes a day on the average, he took a fine lead in the family. Though Takashi has to study using two Bibles, one English and the other Japanese, his spiritual growth has been rapid, and he now serves as a ministerial servant in an English-language congregation. His wife is an auxiliary pioneer. “To safeguard the spirituality of our two young boys,” he says, “each day I also carefully monitor what my wife and I allow them to see on television.” Such self-discipline is rewarding.
21. What do we know about Satan’s tactics, and how can we safeguard ourselves?
21 We can be sure of this: Satan knows our weaknesses, perhaps better than we know them ourselves. He will stop at nothing as he tries to get us to compromise or weaken our allegiance to Jehovah. (Compare Matthew 4:8, 9.) How, then, can we safeguard ourselves? By constantly keeping our dedication before us and by taking delight in developing skills as we minister to the spiritual needs of others. As loyal servants of Jehovah, we must keep busy in his service and be guided at all times by his holy Word. This will help us in our firm resolve that no price Satan can ever offer will swerve us from loyalty to God.—Psalm 119:14-16.
How Do You Answer?
□ How have Jehovah and Jesus manifested loyalty?
□ What are some other Biblical examples of loyalty?
□ What may Satan offer us or attempt to do?
□ How can we strengthen ourselves to remain loyal in our worship of Jehovah?