This message is part of a series entitled, “God Tries His Children”. To see all of the messages in this series, please click here.
In the past two weeks we have discussed commitment and loyalty. Many might equate these two terms, but they are very different. Where both commitment and loyalty may call upon someone to sacrifice, functionally they are different activities. Commitment calls for a dedication to task or to a duty. It is a matter of a pledge. The pledge calls for us to set aside personal issues and drive in unity to complete an objective. In our armed forces, each man and woman swears to an oath that commits them to service for our country. Commitment is the attitude that one has to complete an obligation, engagement, action or responsibility.
Loyalty, our subject from last week, is not focused upon completing an activity, though that can be involved. No, loyalty is normally given to an object, not a concept. The definition actually reads, “firm and constant in one’s support for a person, one’s country, etc.”[i] In another definition, we find more generality but the same meaning, “the quality of being loyal to someone or something.”[ii] An individual committing to a concept or objective is far and away different from the loyalty demanded by a specific object, especially when that object is a person. Once again, we find the perfect example of this in our military. Every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine may commit to serve in their respective service, but each one of them has a problem with one of their superiors, whether in their immediate command, the mid-level echelon, with their Commanding Officer, or even the President.
We found the first necessity in loyalty is a willing decision. We must contemplate and be decided in our mind. With a decision, comes the need to act. Action may be verbal, physical, or both. Loyalty, and the decision to be loyal, also means one must submit to needs, requests and desires. This takes loyalty to a greater level than commitment. Great demands are made upon individuals in their efforts and desires to remain loyal. People are often pressed and stretched past their personal comfort zones as demands are levied from the object of their loyalty. This leads to sacrifice on the part of the individual, in their efforts to fulfill their decision for loyalty. Loyalty does not waiver. It is not a “yes man” situation; in fact, loyalty requires one to encourage or even lovingly chasten another to promote the relationship. Loyalty demands honesty and steadfast dedication. Finally (and probably because of the overwhelming pressure loyalty can place upon someone), loyalty is rewarded. The Lord rewards loyalty in many different ways. The Christian strives for these rewards, the greatest of which is to hear a few simple words, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matt 25:21, 23) Continue reading