Being Loyal to the Lord

Being loyal is essential in having healthy relationships. Faithfulness to the other person is necessary for that relationship to thrive. Without loyalty, relationships quickly fall apart. I suspect that this matter of loyalty has come to my mind because of this time of year. The month of March? Yes. This is that all important time of year. This is the time of “free agency.” Avid football fans know this month in the National Football League begins “free agency”, that time when many professional athletes depart from their teams. And it seems that if there is any clear example of the lack of loyalty between people, this is it. Many NFL owners and players part company. Owners may not sign last year’s hero, or players who just months ago expressed their love for their team, will leave their team and sign with another team (sometimes with the “enemy”). Loyalty is almost non-existent. Professional football has become a business, not a sport, and for most it is about money. The consequence is that owners have little loyalty to players, and in turn, players have little loyalty to their former team. Whatever the rhetoric might be, it is clear that money triumphs loyalties

Getting back to the subject of our loyalties. By experience, we know that the health of our various relationships depends on the matter of loyalty. So, whether it is our marriage, our association with fellow believers at church or our connections with family, friends and acquaintances, faithfulness (loyalty) is critical to those relationships. And we can all think of a painful time when we felt betrayed by the disloyalty of another. For many of us, we are very aware that the most important relationship that we have is with the Lord Jesus Christ. And as in any relationship, faithfulness (loyalty) is essential to that relationship being vibrant and healthy.

THE LORD IS FAITHFUL TO HIS PEOPLE

The Scriptures again and again remind us of the Lord’s faithfulness to His people. For example, Psalm 89 tells us seven times that the Lord God is “faithful”, and another seven times that He is characterized by “lovingkindness” (which has the idea of “loyal love”). In that Psalm, the Lord swore on oath to fulfill His covenant promises to David. And He says that He will “not violate” His covenant commitment to David (89:34) nor will He “lie to David” (89:35). The Lord will never be disloyal to David. And this would be true of all the Lord’s relationships, including the one with us. He is never disloyal or unfaithful. According to the scriptures, the Lord’s faithfulness and lovingkindness fills the universe (Psa. 36:5); it is found in every and all generations (Psa. 119:90); and it is something that His creation should constantly give thanks for (Isa. 25:1; Psa. 89:5). Therefore, in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we can be sure that because He is totally loyal to His people, His part in our relationship is a certainty. It is our part that is sometimes less than what it should be, and therefore, which calls for us to give it some attention. 

WE ARE TO BE FAITHFUL TO THE LORD

The Key Element. Jesus’ marvelous teaching on the vine and the branches is a good place to start as we try and analyze our part in our relationship with Him. To His followers, Jesus gave an important command, which was “abide in Me.” (John 15:4). To “abide” means to remain in fellowship with Jesus. Pretty simple. Not hard to understand. The big question, of course, is how we do this? Jesus answered that question. He said that the key to abiding in Him is obeying Him (15:5, 10). We are to obey His commands. God’s truth has been given to us and we are to align our lives with that truth. The Apostle John, who heard Jesus give this teaching in the Upper Room, later would reinforce the need to obey God’s word in 1 John 2:27-29. John ties abiding to our understanding and obeying the word of God. Our loyalty to Christ is not validated because we say “I love Jesus,” or by engaging in many religious activities. It is directly related to our obedience. It is impossible to “abide in Him” and, at the same time, be disobedient to Him. Each of us, therefore, has the task of self-evaluation. How are we doing in the matter of our obedience to the Lord’s commands and principles? Not a simple question, and not an easy issue to deal with. This should be part of our a praying, asking the Spirit of God to open our eyes to see areas where we are not being obedient (and therefore not abiding). Of course, regularly opening our Bible is essential since in it are the commands and principles that we are to obey. We need to seek the Spirit’s help because as we move along in the Christian life, we have the tendency to think more highly of ourselves than we should. And we have that unfortunate tendency to compare ourselves with others, especially those who we view as less spiritual. It is easy to become dulled to areas where we really are not obeying the Lord. Since obedience is the key to abiding, which is the key to our part in the relationship with the Lord Jesus, then we would be wise to ensure that we are living obediently.

The Relationship of God and His Truth. The reason why obedience is critical is the relationship that exists between God and His truth. An insight from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatian believers is revealing. Paul had brought the gospel of Christ to the region of Galatia and a good number of people responded to the gospel and were saved. However, shortly after Paul left the area, a false teacher came to these new believers and persuaded some of them that Paul’s teachings were inadequate. They said that other elements needed to be in place if they were going to be saved. When Paul heard about the invasion of this false teaching, he wrote to the Galatian believers. He said: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him…for a different gospel” (Gal. 1:9). We would have expected Paul to say that he was amazed that they were so quickly deserting the gospel that Paul taught them. Rather he said “deserting HIM.” Paul’s point is that God and His truth cannot be separated. This same truth is seen when Jesus declared that He was “the truth” (John 14:6). This is why obedience is mandatory for there to exist a vibrant, healthy relationship between the believer and the Lord. Obedience is a declaration of our loyalty to Jesus and it is an objective revelation of our faithfulness to Him. It is also why believers are lying when they declare that they love the Lord but then do not obey Him. Loving Him and disobeying Him simply cannot go together. Yet, this unfortunate reality exists with too many believers. They claim a solid relationship with Jesus while their lives manifest non-compliance with Jesus’ commands. Jesus said that “if you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and “if you keep my commandments you will abide in My love” (John 15:10). 

There is no question about the Lord’s faithfulness and loyalty to us. That part of the relationship is perfect. And it will never be imperfect. Jesus will never be disloyal to believers. If there should be some deadness, strain, or separation in our relationship with the Lord, then we can be sure where the problem lies. We do not want to look like “free agency” in today’s National Football League. Their relationships are quite fragile because there is very little loyalty. In Christianity today, there is a strong tendency towards how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ. While that may not be all wrong, it is far too subjective. Our relationship with the Lord Jesus is defined by the objective matter of obedience (or not) to the Lord’s commandments. Hopefully for all of us, today is a day of a clear loyalty to the Savior.