“Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?” Proverbs 20:6 (NLT 2nded.)
Have you ever asked yourself that question? I know I have. I don’t know about you, but for me personally, loyalty is one of the biggest character traits I look for in someone. I have to know; does that person really have my back? Or are they really acting more like a free agent in our relationship?
I believe in today’s society and especially with the younger generations that loyalty is quickly becoming a dying art. I think back to both of my grandfathers. One worked for the same company for 40 years! He went to college, got out, got a job, and never worked for another company. They were loyal to him and he was loyal to them. My other grandfather was a homebuilder. He used the same sub-contractors and same suppliers for every job he did, and just about everything was done on a handshake not long contracts with difficult words that less than 1% of the population can understand. They just each made a commitment and each followed through on their word. Previous generations used the same mechanics, same tire shops, same barbershops, and same grocery stores. Not because of the prices they had but because of the relationships that were made.
I think that the younger generations know what loyalty is but they have more of a tendency to be loyal to inanimate objects than people. We are loyal to our favorite sports team, TV show, blue jeans, and raggedy old t-shirt that looks like it has been through World War 3. The type of t-shirt that you have had since you were a bachelor, that has the pizza stain, some picture of a 1980’s hair band, and that your wife keeps trying to throw away but you keep rescuing it from the trash like a long lost puppy. What? You don’t have any of those shirts? Um, yeah, me neither.
However, when it comes to people, well that gets a little messy. Because lets be honest, people disappoint, and people let us down, and people don’t always do what we want them to do. So it is much easier to be loyal to our favorite t-shirt rather than the relationships we have on a daily basis.
If you get 5 minutes today go read John 6. It is an interesting chapter in the fact that you will see two groups of people following and listening to Jesus; the mob and the twelve disciples. In this chapter Jesus is teaching on some difficult and at that time hard to understand topics, and what takes place in verses 66 and 67 is what I believe is one of the saddest moments in Jesus’ ministry besides the cross. He is teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum and by this time the mob is getting angry and upset with Jesus and in verse 66 (NLT 2nded.) it says:
At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
Whoa. Here is this crowd that was supposed to be “loyal” to Jesus, and they completely left Him high and dry. Can you imagine giving a speech during your staff meeting this week and all of a sudden your employees start leaving right during the middle of it? See if you can envision the sadness in Jesus’ voice in verse 67 (NLT 2nded.):
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
At this point his twelve disciples have a choice; do they stand beside Jesus and remain loyal or do they look for the closest exit? Then one of His disciples Simon Peter speaks up, and exemplifies what I believe to be true and authentic loyalty in verses 68 and 69 (NLT 2nded.):
Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.
We believe, and know you are the Holy One of God”
Wow. Talk about loyalty. They were loyal to Jesus not because of what he could do, but because of who He was. The twelve disciples didn’t stick around because Jesus could walk on water or because He could turn the water into wine. They had an undying loyalty because they knew who Jesus was.
So here is my question for you. Is your loyalty based off of who a person is, or what they can do for you? I think we all need to ask ourselves this question to really understand what authentic loyalty is. Most of us like to believe that we are loyal people, friends, bosses, and employees, but when circumstances change, when times get difficult, when the economy turns south, do we walk out and look for a better deal? Or do we stand firm and base our loyalty off of who the person is? My hope for all of us is that when it comes to the relationships in our lives we would take a stand and truly have authentic loyalty.