Behold the Loyal!
“Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal?”—REVELATION 15:4.
1. What testimony did J. F. Rutherford give as to the loyalty of his predecessor, C. T. Russell?
JOSEPH F. RUTHERFORD, who succeeded C. T. Russell as president of the Watch Tower Society in 1917, began his remarks at Russell’s memorial service by saying: “Charles Taze Russell was loyal to God, loyal to Christ Jesus, loyal to the cause of Messiah’s kingdom. He was loyal to the core—yea, loyal even unto death.” Truly, that was a fine tribute to make to a faithful servant of Jehovah God. No greater tribute could we pay to any individual than to say that he met the challenge of loyalty, that he was loyal—loyal to the core.
2, 3. (a) Why does loyalty present a challenge? (b) Who are also arrayed against true Christians in their efforts to be loyal?
2 Loyalty presents a challenge. Why? Because loyalty clashes with self-interest. Chief among those disloyal to God are the clergy of Christendom. Then, too, never has there been such widespread disloyalty as in the marital relationship today. Adultery is commonplace. Disloyalty is also rampant in the business world. Regarding this, we are told: “Many managers and professionals . . . believe that only saps and suckers are loyal to their companies today.” People who are “too loyal” are looked down upon. “Your first and only loyalty should be to yourself” is the way a president of a management consulting and executive search firm put it. To speak of loyalty to oneself is to prostitute the meaning of the word. It reminds us of what is stated at Micah 7:2: “The loyal one has perished from the earth.”
3 On a much more significant scale, Satan and his demons are arrayed against us, determined to make us disloyal to God. That is why Christians are told at Ephesians 6:12: “We have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” Yes, we need to heed the warning: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.”—1 Peter 5:8.
4. What tendencies make being loyal so difficult?
4 Also making loyalty difficult are the selfish tendencies we have inherited from our parents, as mentioned at Genesis 8:21: “The inclination of the heart of man is bad”—and selfish—“from his youth up.” All of us have the problem that the apostle Paul confessed that he had: “The good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice.”—Romans 7:19.
Loyalty Is Something Special
5, 6. What can be said as to what loyalty is, and how has it been defined?
5 “Loyalty” is a very special word. Thus Insight on the Scriptures states: “There appear to be no English words that exactly express the full meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words, but ‘loyalty,’ including, as it does, the thought of devotion and faithfulness, when used in connection with God and his service, serves to give an approximation.”a Regarding “loyalty” The Watchtower once stated: “Faithfulness, duty, love, obligation, allegiance. What do these words have in common? They are different facets of loyalty.” Yes, ever so many virtues are but different facets of loyalty. It is indeed noteworthy how often loyalty and righteousness are linked in the Scriptures.
6 Helpful also are the following definitions: ‘Loyalty may indicate a continuing, reliable faithfulness and allegiance, secure against wavering or temptation.’ ‘Loyalty implies faithfulness to one’s pledged word or continued allegiance to the institution or the principles to which one feels himself morally bound; the term suggests not only adherence but resistance to being lured and persuaded away from that adherence.’ Thus, people who continue faithful in spite of tests, opposition, and persecution deserve to be termed “loyal.”
7. What distinction can be made between loyalty and faithfulness?
7 In this connection, however, it might be well to illustrate a distinction that can be made between loyalty and faithfulness. In the western United States, there is a geyser that erupts just about every hour. It is so regular that it has been called Old Faithful. The Bible speaks of such inanimate things as the moon as being faithful, for it is dependable. Psalm 89:37 speaks of the moon as “a faithful witness in the skies.” God’s words are said to be faithful. Revelation 21:5 says: “The One seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ Also, he says: ‘Write, because these words are faithful and true.’” All of these are faithful, dependable, but they are not capable of any attachment or moral qualities, such as loyalty.
Jehovah, the Preeminently Loyal One
8. What Scriptural testimony identifies the finest example of loyalty?
8 Without the shadow of a doubt, Jehovah God is the finest example of loyalty. Jehovah has been loyal to the human race, even providing his Son so that humans may receive everlasting life. (John 3:16) At Jeremiah 3:12, we read: “‘Do return, O renegade Israel,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘I shall not have my face drop angrily upon you people, for I am loyal.’” Further testifying to Jehovah’s loyalty are the words recorded at Revelation 16:5: “You, the One who is and who was, the loyal One, are righteous.” Then again, at Psalm 145:17, we are told: “Jehovah is righteous in all his ways and loyal in all his works.” In fact, Jehovah is so outstanding in his loyalty that Revelation 15:4 states: “Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal?” Jehovah God is loyal to the superlative degree.
9, 10. What record of loyalty did Jehovah make in his dealings with the nation of Israel?
9 The history of the nation of Israel in particular contains abundant testimony to Jehovah’s loyalty to his people. In the days of the Judges, Israel fell away from true worship time and again, but Jehovah repeatedly felt regret and saved them. (Judges 2:15-22) Throughout the five centuries that Israel had kings, Jehovah showed his loyalty to that nation.
10 Jehovah’s loyalty caused him to be patient with his people, as noted at 2 Chronicles 36:15, 16: “Jehovah the God of their forefathers kept sending against them by means of his messengers, sending again and again, because he felt compassion for his people and for his dwelling. But they were continually making jest at the messengers of the true God and despising his words and mocking at his prophets, until the rage of Jehovah came up against his people, until there was no healing.”
11. What assurance or comfort does Jehovah’s loyalty give us?
11 Because Jehovah is supremely loyal, the apostle Paul could write, as recorded at Romans 8:38, 39: “I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Yes, Jehovah assures us: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Truly, it is a comfort to know that Jehovah God is always loyal!
Jesus Christ, the Loyal Son
12, 13. What testimony do we have as to the loyalty of God’s Son?
12 Perfectly imitating Jehovah in meeting the challenge of loyalty was and is Jesus Christ. Well could the apostle Peter quote Psalm 16:10 and apply it to Jesus Christ at Acts 2:27: “You will not leave my soul in Hades, neither will you allow your loyal one to see corruption.” Jesus Christ is deservedly designated the “loyal one.” Through and through, he is loyal to his Father and to God’s promised Kingdom. Satan first tried to break Jesus’ integrity by using temptations, appeals to self-interest. Failing in that, the Devil resorted to persecution, finally causing Jesus’ death on the execution stake. Never did Jesus swerve as to his loyalty to his heavenly Father, Jehovah God.—Matthew 4:1-11.
13 Jesus Christ has been loyal to his followers in keeping with the promise recorded at Matthew 28:20: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” In fulfillment of that promise, he has been loyally exercising leadership over his congregation from Pentecost 33 C.E. to the present time.
Imperfect Humans Who Were Loyal
14. What example of loyalty did Job set?
14 Now, what about imperfect humans? Can they be loyal to God? We have the outstanding case of Job. Satan made the issue clear-cut in his case. Was Job loyal to Jehovah God, or was he serving him only because of self-interest? Satan boasted that he could turn Job away from Jehovah by making trouble for Job. When Job had lost all his possessions, all his children, and even his health, his wife urged him: “Curse God and die!” But Job was loyal, for he said to her: “‘As one of the senseless women speaks, you speak also. Shall we accept merely what is good from the true God and not accept also what is bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:9, 10) In fact, to his would-be comforters, Job said: “Though he [God] slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15, New International Version) No wonder Job received Jehovah’s approval! Hence, Jehovah told Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger has grown hot against you and your two companions, for you men have not spoken concerning me what is truthful as has my servant Job.”—Job 42:7, 10-16; James 5:11.
15. What Scriptural testimony do we have as to the loyalty of many servants of Jehovah God?
15 All the men and women of faith described in Hebrews chapter 11 can be spoken of as loyal ones. They were not only faithful but also loyal in the face of pressures. Thus, we read of those “who through faith . . . stopped the mouths of lions, stayed the force of fire, escaped the edge of the sword . . . Yes, others received their trial by mockings and scourgings, indeed, more than that, by bonds and prisons. They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn asunder, they died by slaughter with the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, while they were in want, in tribulation, under ill-treatment.”—Hebrews 11:33-37.
16. What example of loyalty did the apostle Paul furnish?
16 The Christian Greek Scriptures also provide the striking example of the apostle Paul. Well could he say to the Thessalonian Christians regarding his ministry: “You are witnesses, God is also, how loyal and righteous and unblamable we proved to be to you believers.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10) We have further proof of Paul’s loyalty in his words recorded at 2 Corinthians 6:4, 5, where we read: “In every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, by the endurance of much, by tribulations, by cases of need, by difficulties, by beatings, by prisons, by disorders, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times without food.” All of this testifies to the apostle Paul’s having self-respect because he was loyal.
Loyal Ones in Modern Times
17. What words of J. F. Rutherford showed his determination to be loyal?
17 Coming to modern times, we have the fine example already considered in our introduction. Note what is stated in the book Worldwide Security Under the “Prince of Peace,” on page 146 under the subheading “Loyalty During Time of Imprisonment.” There it is said: “Displaying loyalty to Jehovah’s organization during his time of imprisonment, the president of the Watch Tower Society, Joseph F. Rutherford, on December 25, 1918, wrote the following: ‘Because I refused to compromise with Babylon, but faithfully tried to serve my Lord, I am in prison, for which I am thankful. . . . I would far prefer His approval and smile and be in prison, than to compromise with or yield to the Beast and be free and have the plaudits of the whole world.’”b
18, 19. What sterling examples of loyalty in modern times do we have?
18 We have excellent examples of loyalty in many other Christians who have endured persecution. Among such loyal individuals are German Witnesses of Jehovah during the Nazi regime, as portrayed in the video Purple Triangles, widely distributed in the English language. Also noteworthy are many loyal African Witnesses of Jehovah, such as those in Malawi. There, one prison guard testified to the loyalty of the Witnesses, saying: “They will never compromise. They just increase.”
19 One cannot read the recent Yearbooks of Jehovah’s Witnesses without being impressed by the loyalty displayed by true Christians, such as those in Greece, Mozambique, and Poland. Many of them suffered excruciating torture; others were murdered. Page 177 of the 1992 Yearbook displays pictures of nine Christian men in Ethiopia who met the challenge of loyalty to the point of being murdered. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, are we not glad to have so many fine examples to spur us on to meet the challenge of loyalty?
20. What follows if we remain loyal?
20 By loyally resisting temptations and pressures, we build up our self-respect. So, then, on whose side of the issue of loyalty do we want to be found? By meeting the challenge of loyalty, we take Jehovah God’s side of the issue and prove Satan the Devil to be the base, gross liar that he is! We thereby gain the approval of our Maker, Jehovah God, and the reward of everlasting life in happiness. (Psalm 37:29; 144:15b) What it takes to meet the challenge of loyalty will be considered next.
a A two-volume Bible encyclopedia published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
b Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
How Would You Answer?
◻ Why does being loyal present a challenge?
◻ Why can it be said that “loyalty” is a very special word?
◻ What Scriptural examples do we have of imperfect humans who were loyal?
◻ What fine modern-day examples of loyalty do we have?
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Charles Taze Russell
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Jesus truly was Jehovah’s “loyal one”
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Job, though imperfect, proved loyal to God
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Paul set a fine example of loyalty to Jehovah