Meeting the Challenge of Loyalty
“Put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—EPHESIANS 4:24.
1. Why do we owe Jehovah God loyalty?
MEETING the challenge of loyalty has many facets. Most important is meeting the challenge of loyalty to Jehovah God. Truly, in view of who Jehovah is and what he has done for us, and because of our dedication to him, we owe him loyalty. How do we manifest loyalty to Jehovah God? A primary way is by being loyal to Jehovah’s righteous principles.
2, 3. What relationship is there between loyalty and righteousness?
2 To meet that challenge, we must heed the words found at 1 Peter 1:15, 16: “In accord with the Holy One who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct, because it is written: ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’” Loyalty to Jehovah God will cause us to obey him at all times, bringing our thoughts, words, and actions into harmony with his holy will. It means preserving a good conscience, as we are commanded at 1 Timothy 1:3-5: “Really the objective of this mandate [not to teach different doctrine or pay attention to false stories] is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.” True, none of us are perfect, but we should be trying to do our very best, should we not?
3 Loyalty to Jehovah will keep us from selfishly compromising righteous principles. Indeed, loyalty will keep us from being one thing on the inside and another on the outside. Loyalty is what the psalmist had in mind when he sang: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth. Unify my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11) Loyalty requires what has well been described as “obedience to the unenforceable.”
4, 5. Loyalty will make us careful, lest we do what?
4 Loyalty to Jehovah God will also keep us from doing anything that would bring reproach upon his name and Kingdom. For example, two Christians once got into such difficulty with each other that they improperly resorted to a worldly law court. The judge asked, ‘Are both of you Jehovah’s Witnesses?’ Evidently he could not understand what they were doing in court. What a reproach that was! Loyalty to Jehovah God would have caused those brothers to heed the counsel of the apostle Paul: “Really, then, it means altogether a defeat for you that you are having lawsuits with one another. Why do you not rather let yourselves be wronged? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7) Certainly, the course of loyalty to Jehovah God is to suffer personal loss rather than bring reproach upon Jehovah and his organization.
5 Loyalty to Jehovah God also involves not yielding to the fear of man. “Trembling at men is what lays a snare, but he that is trusting in Jehovah will be protected.” (Proverbs 29:25) Thus, we do not compromise when faced with persecution, but we follow the example set by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the former Soviet Union, in Malawi, in Ethiopia, and in ever so many other lands.
6. Loyalty will keep us from associating with whom?
6 If we are loyal to Jehovah God, we will avoid making friends with all who are his enemies. That is why the disciple James wrote: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) We want to have the loyalty that King David evidenced when he said: “Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you, O Jehovah, and do I not feel a loathing for those revolting against you? With a complete hatred I do hate them. They have become to me real enemies.” (Psalm 139:21, 22) We do not want to fraternize with any willful sinners, for we have nothing in common with them. Would not loyalty to God keep us from socializing with any such enemies of Jehovah, whether in person or through the medium of television?
Coming to Jehovah’s Defense
7. Loyalty will help us to do what regarding Jehovah, and how did Elihu do this?
7 Loyalty will move us to come to the defense of Jehovah God. What a fine example of that we have in Elihu! Job 32:2, 3 tells us: “The anger of Elihu . . . came to be hot. Against Job his anger blazed over his declaring his own soul righteous rather than God. Also, against his three companions his anger blazed over the fact that they had not found an answer but they proceeded to pronounce God wicked.” In Job chapters 32 through 37, Elihu comes to the defense of Jehovah. For example, he said: “Have patience with me a little while, and I shall declare to you that there are yet words to say for God. . . . To my Fashioner I shall ascribe righteousness. . . . He will not take away his eyes from anyone righteous.”—Job 36:2-7.
8. Why do we need to come to Jehovah’s defense?
8 Why is there a need to come to Jehovah’s defense? Today, our God Jehovah is blasphemed in ever so many ways. It is claimed that he does not exist, that he is a part of a Trinity, that he torments people eternally in a burning hell, that he weakly is trying to convert the world, that he does not care about mankind, and so forth. We demonstrate our loyalty to him by coming to his defense and proving that Jehovah does exist; that he is a wise, just, almighty, and loving God; that he has a time for everything; and that when his due time comes, he will bring an end to all evil and make the whole earth a paradise. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) This requires that we make use of every opportunity to bear witness to Jehovah’s name and Kingdom.
Loyalty to Jehovah’s Organization
9. Over what matters have some betrayed their lack of loyalty?
9 We now come to the matter of being loyal to Jehovah’s visible organization. Certainly, we owe loyalty to it, including “the faithful and discreet slave,” through which the Christian congregation is fed spiritually. (Matthew 24:45-47) Suppose that something appears in Watch Tower publications that we do not understand or agree with at the moment. What will we do? Take offense and leave the organization? That is what some did when The Watch Tower, many years ago, applied the new covenant to the Millennium. Others took offense at what The Watchtower once said on the issue of neutrality. If those who stumbled over these matters had been loyal to the organization and to their brothers, they would have waited on Jehovah to clarify these matters, which he did in his due time. Thus, loyalty includes waiting patiently until further understanding is published by the faithful and discreet slave.
10. Loyalty will keep us from being curious about what?
10 Loyalty to Jehovah’s visible organization also means having nothing to do with apostates. Loyal Christians will not be curious about what such people have to say. True, those being used by Jehovah God to direct his work on earth are not perfect. But what does God’s Word tell us to do? Leave God’s organization? No. Brotherly affection should keep us loyal to it, and we should continue to “love one another intensely from the heart.”—1 Peter 1:22.
Loyalty to Loyal Elders
11. Loyalty will help us guard against what negative thinking?
11 When something is said or done in the congregation that we have difficulty understanding, loyalty will keep us from judging motives and will help us to take the position that perhaps it is a matter of judgment. Is it not far better to dwell on the good qualities of the appointed elders and other fellow believers rather than on their shortcomings? Yes, we want to guard against all such negative thinking, for it is related to being disloyal! Loyalty will also help us to obey Paul’s directive “to speak injuriously of no one.”—Titus 3:1, 2.
12, 13. What particular challenges do elders have to face?
12 Loyalty presents particular challenges to elders. One of these challenges is the matter of confidentiality. A member of a congregation may confide in an elder. Loyalty to that one will keep the elder from violating the principle of confidentiality. He will heed the counsel at Proverbs 25:9: “Do not reveal the confidential talk of another.” That means not even to his own wife!
13 Elders also have other tests of loyalty to meet. Will they be men pleasers, or will they courageously and mildly assist those who need correction, even if they are blood relatives or close friends? Loyalty to Jehovah’s organization will cause those of us who are elders to try to help any who need spiritual assistance. (Galatians 6:1, 2) Though we will be kind, loyalty will make us candid with our fellow elder, just as Paul spoke to the apostle Peter candidly. (Galatians 2:11-14) On the other hand, overseers want to be careful, lest by acting unwisely or showing partiality or in some other way abusing their authority, they make it difficult for those in their charge to be loyal to God’s organization.—Philippians 4:5.
14, 15. What factors might test the loyalty of members of the congregation?
14 There are other aspects to the matter of meeting the challenge of loyalty to the congregation and its elders. If there are somewhat troubled conditions in the congregation, this gives us opportunity to display loyalty to Jehovah and to those representing him. (See The Watchtower, June 15, 1987, pages 15-17.) When there has been a disfellowshipping, loyalty requires that we back up the elders, not trying to second-guess whether there were sufficient reasons for the action taken.
15 Loyalty to the congregation also calls on us to support all five weekly meetings to the extent of our circumstances and ability. Loyalty requires that we not only attend them regularly but also prepare for them and make upbuilding comments as opportunity affords.—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
16, 17. What challenges to loyalty do married Christians have to face?
16 To whom else do we owe loyalty? If we are married, in view of our marriage vows, we have to meet the challenge of being loyal to our marriage mate. Loyalty to our mate will keep us from making the mistake of being nicer to other women or men than we are to our own wife or husband. Loyalty to our mate also requires that we do not betray to outsiders the weaknesses or shortcomings of our mate. It is easier to complain to others than it is to work hard to keep open the lines of communication with our spouse, which we should do in harmony with the Golden Rule. (Matthew 7:12) Actually, the marital state presents a real challenge to our Christian loyalty.
17 To meet this challenge of loyalty, not only must we avoid being guilty of gross misconduct but we must also guard our very thoughts and feelings. (Psalm 19:14) For instance, if our deceitful hearts are greedy for pleasure and excitement, it is so easy for us to go selfishly from admiring to desiring. Urging marital fidelity, King Solomon counsels husbands figuratively to ‘drink water out of their own cistern.’ (Proverbs 5:15) And Jesus said: “Everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) Husbands indulging themselves in pornographic material run the risk of being induced to commit adultery, thus cheating on their wives and being disloyal to them. By the same token, a wife caught up in the spirit of soap operas dealing with adulterous episodes could be tempted to become disloyal to her husband. By being truly loyal to our mate, however, we strengthen the marriage bond, and we help each other in our efforts to please Jehovah God.
Aids to Keeping Loyal
18. Appreciation of what will help us to be loyal?
18 What will help us to meet the challenge of loyalty in these four areas: loyalty to Jehovah, to his organization, to the congregation, and to our marriage mate? One aid is appreciating that meeting the challenge of loyalty is bound up with the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Yes, by remaining loyal we show that we view Jehovah as Universal Sovereign. Thus we can also have self-respect and the hope of everlasting life in Jehovah’s new world. We can help ourselves to stay loyal by considering fine examples of loyalty, from Jehovah on down to those mentioned in the Bible and in our Watch Tower publications, including Yearbook accounts.
19. What role does faith play in our being loyal?
19 Strong faith in Jehovah God and fear of displeasing him will help us to meet the challenge of loyalty. We strengthen our faith in and fear of Jehovah by diligently studying God’s Word and by engaging in the Christian ministry. This will help us to act in harmony with Paul’s counsel recorded at Ephesians 4:23, 24: “You should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”
20. Above all, what quality will help us to be loyal to Jehovah and to all others to whom we owe loyalty?
20 Appreciation of Jehovah’s qualities helps us to be loyal. Above all, unselfish love for our heavenly Father and gratitude for all that he has done for us, loving him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength will help us to be loyal to him. Furthermore, having the love that Jesus said would identify his followers will help us to be loyal to all Christians in the congregation and in our family. To put it another way, it is actually a matter of being either selfish or unselfish. Disloyalty means being selfish. Loyalty means being unselfish.—Mark 12:30, 31; John 13:34, 35.
21. How can the matter of meeting the challenge of loyalty be summarized?
21 To sum up: Loyalty is the sterling quality manifested by Jehovah God, by Jesus Christ, and by all of Jehovah’s true servants. To have a good relationship with Jehovah God, we must meet the challenge of loyalty to him by living up to his righteous requirements, by having nothing to do with his enemies, and by coming to Jehovah’s defense in witnessing formally and informally. We must also meet the challenge of being loyal to Jehovah’s visible organization. We must be loyal to our congregations and loyal to our marriage mates. By meeting the challenge of loyalty successfully, we will be sharing in the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty, and will be taking his side of the issue. Thereby we will win his favor and will receive the prize of everlasting life. What the apostle Paul said about godly devotion can also be said about our meeting the challenge of loyalty. It is beneficial both for the life now and for that which is to come.—Psalm 18:25; 1 Timothy 4:8.
How Would You Answer?
□ In what ways can we meet the challenge of loyalty to God?
□ What does loyalty to Jehovah’s organization require of us?
□ How can elders meet the challenge of loyalty?
□ What challenge involving loyalty must married Christians meet?
□ What qualities will help us to meet the challenge of loyalty?
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Loyalty to members of the congregation will keep elders from revealing confidential matters
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Loyalty to one’s mate strengthens the marriage bond