In the dictionary, the word loyal means unswerving in allegiance as 1) faithful allegiance to one’s sovereign or government, 2) faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due, 3) faithful to a cause, ideal or custom. Synonyms are: faithful, allegiance, devotion, dedication, constant, unwavering, steady, unfailing.
Loyalty is like faith; it means assurance of another. In ancient times, the two words had the same meaning, and referred to one’s loyalty to a person, or trustworthiness to a promise they had made. The person receiving the promise was acting on faith and trusting in that person, and that is what loyalty is mainly about. But, loyalty has another facet to it. It is also a call that we involve other characters into, such as, forgiveness, mercy, and respect. We are to realize this with people, even when it is undeserved and unearned.
It is also the knowledge that people with whom we place our loyalty will disappoint us. However, we cannot base our character and self image in their reaction, only in who Christ is. Our outlook on life and reaction to people needs to be rooted in God, not on how those people respond to us. We are not responsible for how people treat us; we are only responsible for treating them with utmost character, as a reflection of Christ. Hence, the word Christian is being “Christ like,” not “self like.”
What does the Bible have to say about loyalty and being loyal?
- Loyalty is unwavering in good times and bad. (Proverbs 17:17)
- Loyalty is what you do, not what you say. (Matthew 26:33-35 and 26:69-75)
- Loyalty is in your heart. It is willing and not reluctant. (Psalm 78:8)
- Loyalty can be demanding. (Exodus 17:8-13)
- Loyalty may involve sacrifice. (2 Chronicles 11:13-16)
- Loyalty to the Lord will be rewarded. (Psalm 84:10-11) When this psalm says “those whose walk is blameless” it refers to Genesis 17:1 when the Lord appeared to Abraham and said to him “walk with me and be blameless” meaning that Abraham would receive the Lord’s promises if he was faithful and obedient.
- Disloyalty will be punished. Because Edom deserted Israel in its time of need, “I will bring you plummeting down,” said the Lord. (Obadiah 1:4-14, especially verses 4 and 11)
We are never to forget what Christ did for us. So, our treatment of a person needs to be rooted in Christ, not in what they can do for us, or how they respond to us. Yes, we need to be discerning, and not be overly taken advantage of. But, real friendship is not based on who can do what, but in mutual love and respect that is freely given and freely received.
God will bring people into our lives, and we cannot–due to logistics and time–be good friends with everyone. But, we can treat everyone with whom we come in contact, with good character– and that means with loyalty, too. We need to realize that in order to keep relationships functional, we have to be dedicated, trustworthy, dependable, and committed.
That means we do not gossip, we do not put down, we do not undermine, we do not play games; rather we model Christ and what He did for us! When we stick with our friends, we keep our friends. Long term relationships tend to be rare, but they are vital.
Do not let then be rare in your life!
We are to realize that God works through people, including our church and national leaders (Proverbs 21:1; Romans 13). God uses others to carry His plan to us and those around us. Therefore, loyalty is also a demonstration of our obedience to our country, civil leaders, church, teachers, authority figures, and family (unless they give a command that goes against God’s Word). It is something we demonstrate both in public and in private. Loyalty is a character that puts a portion of love into action for those others in your life. It may be the one key aspect, seen in you by others, that will point them to God’s love!