I was spending a lot of time away from home the summer I turned 13. My best friend Keith’s parents put a swimming pool in their backyard. I wanted to enjoy it as much as I could. But there was a problem: Keith was not allowed to swim until he finished his household chores. Bummer. I could not swim in his pool without him. So, I came up with the obvious, simple solution: Help him with his chores.
However, this created a new problem: My assigned household jobs were falling further and further behind. Even bigger problem—my parents wanted to know: “Why isn’t the lawn mowed? Why isn’t the garden weeded? Why aren’t the bushes trimmed?” Thinking I might get a gold star, I explained, “I’ve been helping Keith do his chores.” Wrong answer. Mom looked right though my lame excuse and responded, “Charity begins at home.” Wow—my mother’s correction was more powerful than a punch in the chest.
I have thought about this incident many times over the years. There was a big lesson I had to learn—one that I strove to teach my own children. Do you recognize what that lesson is? It is knowing the vital importance of the character quality of loyalty!
True loyalty is a miraculous thing. Teens and members brimming over with loyalty are very successful spiritually and are firmly rooted in God’s Church. A lack of loyalty will keep us out of the Kingdom of God. God will not let anyone rule with Jesus Christ who is not loyal.
Are you learning to practice loyalty? Here is how.
Webster’s defines loyalty as “faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful government, … faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is held to be due, … faithful to a cause, ideal or custom.”
Essentially loyalty means the same as faithfulness.
Honest examination of the world today—especially the modern nations of Israel—reveals that loyalty is not being taught to the young like it used to be. Ask young people today if they would be willing to die for the ideals and principles of their country. A common reply is likely to be, “Why would I? What has this country ever done for me?” The truth is only a small number of Nathan Hale-types remain in this world. Nathan Hale was the 20-something U.S. patriot who, as he was being hanged for spying on British troops, said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Such a statement would be exceedingly rare today.
How many young people are deeply loyal to their parents, teachers, families and schools? How many are being taught to be loyal to God, His purposes, laws and way of life? “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful [loyal] man who can find?” lamented Solomon in Proverbs 20:6 (English Standard Version). The absence of loyalty was a problem in Solomon’s time. It is still a problem today. Why? Loyalty, or faithfulness, is difficult to teach human beings because we are naturally selfish, self-centered pleasure-seekers.
Loyalty Must Be Learned
Remember, loyalty is equal to faithfulness. None of us wakes up in the morning deciding to be faithful. We must be taught to be loyal—and we must be willing to learn. Loyalty is best taught within the structure of the family. That is why God put your parents in authority over you.
Jesus Christ set us the perfect example of unfaltering loyalty. Never once was He disloyal to the Father. Christ always exalted God. In fact, He stated that His purpose in life was to declare His Father (John 1:18). He put His Father first in everything. He humbled Himself before God—even gave up His own divinity—to fulfill His Father’s will (John 17:4-5; Philippians 2:5-8). This is the first and most important building block of loyalty.
To build loyalty into your character, learn to maintain deep respect for your parents’ authority. In today’s world, authority and the exercise of authority are viewed as the great evil. Experts, especially American experts, believe that children and teens should be on the same level as their parents. This is insanity times insanity—it lends toward the fulfilling of the prophecy in Isaiah 3:12: “As for my people, children are their oppressors ….”
You might not realize it instinctively, but you are much happier when there are clear, strongly drawn lines of authority. Forceful, loving authority makes you feel safe and secure. Not having to waste energy wondering where the boundaries are, you will be unleashed to perform and excel at your fullest.
“My Father is greater than I,” recognized Jesus (John 14:28). Christ accepted that God was His supreme authority. Did this make Him an unsuccessful dweeb? No. The fact that He looked to His Father enabled Him to became the Savior of all mankind and future King of Earth (Hebrews 1:3; Revelation 19:16).
How do you talk about your parents to your friends and associates? If you are not careful, you can disparage them, or fail to uphold their reputation, in ways that are disloyal.
In your teen years, you need strong teaching to protect you from Satan’s world. You need education in cause and effect. Are you thankful that your parents use their authority to teach you how to avoid the negative effects of wrong action? If you disobey and receive some sort of penalty, maybe a denial of privileges, do you see that your parents are expressing love toward you? Similarly, your parents reward you for continual obedience. They let you know that they trust you by extending privileges to you—perhaps like allowing you to drive the family car. These are ways that they build loyalty in you! Are you submitting to that process, or do you rebel against it?
God never lets us down. He plans to reward us handsomely for our loyal obedience. “A faithful [loyal] man will abound with blessings,” God promises us (Proverbs 28:20; esv). If you are loyal to your parents, and ultimately to God, you will be blessed for it!
Family With a Cause
The Bible shows that the character trait of loyalty runs in families. God speaks very highly of Abraham because he taught his family to be loyal to God’s way of life. “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment …” (Genesis 18:19). No wonder Abraham is called the father of the faithful (Galatians 3:7).
The Israelites struggled with loyalty to God. Joshua proclaimed, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Joshua followed the example of Moses, who was faithful to God, His laws and way of life (Hebrews 3:2).
The Key of David booklet shows that Zadok the priest and his entire family were loyal supporters of King David continually—in the good times, and especially the difficult ones. They remained true to David until the day he died. Zadok was locked onto the cause God had laid out for David, and his sons loyally followed in his footsteps.
To build loyalty into your character, be sure that you are dedicated to God’s cause. Many teens in the world passionately embrace causes, but more often than not, they are the wrong causes. In the past few elections, for example, the youngest American voters—older teenagers—have leaned heavily to the radical left.
As a young teenager, David understood God’s cause for Israel better than his older brother Eliab did. While his brother—a soldier—was shaking in his sandals at seeing Goliath, David wanted to take Goliath out for defying “the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:26). Eliab chided his little brother for supposed arrogance. David responded, “Is there not a cause?” (verse 29). The future king knew that Israel was God’s nation with a lofty mission! They should not be bullied by anyone—even giants!
Do you understand and faithfully support God’s cause? God’s Church—the spiritual nation of Israel—has an incredibly high and awesome mission. Not only do we have the heavy responsibility to spread God’s warning message around this dying world, we have the glorious opportunity to introduce Jesus Christ all mankind, which does not know Him. This truth should excite you. Discuss these things often with your parents.
Learn to be loyal to our Creator God, His laws, government and way of life. The easiest way to begin doing this is by properly keeping the Sabbath and holy days. A teenager who is intensely loyal to God’s sabbaths will not quickly leave God’s Church. The weekly Sabbath reveals God’s great cause for mankind. It is a command that demands our attention, preparation and obedience. It truly is a beautifully wrapped, complete package for teaching loyalty.
Think about the aspects of faithfulness required to observe the Sabbath. Sabbath observance requires us to be loyal to God’s Word, since it is only in the Bible that we learn that God’s Sabbath is the seventh day of the week. It requires us to be loyal to God and His government, because He commands us to observe it. Keeping the Sabbath requires loyalty, or faithfulness, to God’s one true Church. No one can truly observe the Sabbath properly unless we attend services with God’s Family. Remember, the Sabbath requires us to convene together with others for services (Leviticus 23:1-3). The Sabbath is one of God’s greatest gifts. Learn to make full use of it in your teen years, and you will make full use of it for your entire life.
God and Christ hold great delight for the Sabbath and want us to do the same (Isaiah 58:13). When observed properly, Sabbath-keeping will bring your entire family closer to God. God promises that every family that observes the Sabbath with delight will receive a multitude of blessings (verse 14). Loyal teenagers sincerely look forward to and delight in God’s weekly Sabbath and holy days.
Imagine for a moment if God were disloyal to us, His Church. How devastating would that be? What if God told us that He was only kidding about Jesus Christ’s return and the resurrection? What if He said, I didn’t tell you the truth about being “born again”? Who could trust a God like that?
God is faithful in His Word. He can never lie to us (Hebrews 6:18). God’s faithfulness gives us hope and the encouragement to press on in our Christian fight against Satan, his evil world and our flawed human nature.
To build loyalty into your character, learn about the spiritual devastation that disloyalty causes in people’s lives. The Bible has many examples of the negative and fatal effects of disloyalty. Miriam and Aaron were disloyal to the office God gave Moses, which led to Aaron suffering shame while Miriam suffered from leprosy (Numbers 12:1-15). Korah’s disloyal rebellion led to the destruction of his family and the families of the men who joined with him (Numbers 16:1-33). King Saul is a study in disloyalty. You can add Abiathar, Joab and David’s sons Absalom and Adonijah to the nearly endless list of the disloyal. You need to make sure that you are not on that list.
“We need to ask ourselves, are we intensely loyal to God, His government and His leadership?” writes Gerald Flurry in The Key of David.
God is going to test our loyalty to our physical parents and family, to His cause and to Him. Let’s be sure that we pass that test—continually—just like Zadok and his family did. And let’s not forget, loyalty begins at home.