The Virtue of Loyalty1
If I were to ask “are you a loyal person,” I bet I know how you’d answer. That’s because most of us think we are loyal!
But maybe we’re not quite who we think we are. Disloyalty can be hard to spot in ourselves. We’re quick to point to others who’ve turned their back on us. We point to their words and actions as evidence.
But when judging ourselves, we often rely on our feelings. And who can blame us? Modern dictionaries agree with our method. For instance, Merriam-Webster online defines loyalty as “a feeling of strong support.”
This definition gives a way out when life becomes hard. It provides an excuse for leaving when I don’t feel like being loyal to my friends, spouse, or others. My loyalty becomes conditional. I am loyal as long as you’re doing what I want you to do.
But, is that really loyalty? I don’t think so.
The word “loyalty” we see in the Bible is a translation of the Greek word “afosiosi.” It means “to wholly trust or believe in, to be permanent, and have unwavering faith.” In God’s eyes, loyalty is not a feeling, it’s an allegiance that’s backed by action.
Marriage is a good example. When we say “I do,” we pledge complete devotion to our union. There will be days we feel more devoted than others, but that doesn’t sway our allegiance. We remain faithful to our commitment.
The Bible tells us loyalty is hard to find. That’s probably because we all think we’re already loyal. But when push comes to shove, our loyalty is more about a feeling. Our history in relationships is a more accurate test. How are we at long term relationships? Do we have any? Are there groups we’ve been a part of for a long time?
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?
- Proverbs 20:6 (NLT)
What are the major ingredients of reliability? I can think of two…
Perseverance is one. To persevere means I don’t quit. I continue my course of action no matter how hard it gets.
So how do you do that? Just keep going. That’s the most basic quality of perseverance.
God encourages us to…
not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
– Galatians 6:9 (ESV)
There’s no doubt God rewards loyalty when we’re loyal to him and to the people we’ve been given to do life with. Sometimes we see rewards of our loyalty here on Earth. Some rewards won’t be seen until we’ve crossed to the other side.
Sacrifice is the other. Those who serve in our armed forces are some of the greatest examples of loyalty I can think of. Their oath reads:
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…
Over two million people have given their lives while keeping that oath. Everyone who has ever taken it has sacrificed in some way. Many have sacrificed their health, family or plans for the future. As an American, I am forever grateful for what they’ve done for my family and me.
True loyalty doesn’t exist without perseverance and sacrifice. We all want people to show that kind of loyalty to us. We love it when people stick by us…even through hard times.
Let’s strive to be the person we’d love to have as a friend, spouse and neighbor. Jesus said it best…
Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
– Matthew 6:31 (NLT)
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