“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back. You give love, you’ll get it back.” – Tommy Lasorda

I can remember back to a time when the word loyalty really meant something.   People seemed more “connected” in those days.   That’s ironic because we had no cell phones, social media, or email.   In fact, all we had were land line telephones.   Most people did not even have an answering machine to take a message.   When we were not at home, oh well, they would call back later.   So how can I say that people were more connected at a time when there were less ways to connect? That’s simple, we actually related to each other.   Life was full of human interaction.   The term face time didn’t exist.   Why?   We didn’t need it.   That’s how we lived – up close and personal.   Connecting to the individuals in our various social circles was an intimate experience.   Today, more and more people prefer indirect forms of personal interaction through various proxy devices (smart phones, PC’s, etc.). Now don’t get your knickers in a swivet, I am not anti-technology – quite the opposite.   You name the device and I most likely own it.   My concerns lie in the relationship disconnect that many social media addicts manifest.   You doubt me?   Next time you are in a restaurant or other public place, make note of all the people texting instead of interacting.   (Does anyone have plans to stare at their phone some place exciting this weekend?)

“I remind myself that I’m always more satisfied by human interaction than by a digital connection.” – Maulik Pancholy

Back in the Jurassic period of my youth, we had an honest sense of community.   People really looked out for one another and spent more time with each other.   We cared about the well-being of our neighbors.   Loyalty was the glue that held us all together.   Sure, we had the treacherous, the selfish and the miserable too.   And, there were those who simply did not deserve our loyalty at all.   But they were more the expectation – not the rule.   For the most part, loyalty was as common as a head cold when I was growing up. I can remember my mom shopping at Vinney’s corner market even when the big grocery store opened just two blocks away.   Ol’ Vinney charged higher prices and he didn’t have the wide assortment of merchandise like the new supermarket, but we shopped at Vinney’s out of loyalty.   After all, he was our friend and neighbor.   We went to school with his children and saw his family in church on Sunday.   Vinney was part of the fabric of our community – part of the give and take. So was old Mr. Frank.   He owned the big printing company in town.   Employed over 35 people.   Generally his business did very well, but of course, there were lean times.   Occasionally, new work orders would dry up for a season.   That’s just how the business cycle works.   One year, close to the Christmas holiday, Frank ran into a serious cash flow problem.   After considering all of his options, he sold some extra equipment to a smaller competitor and got a bridge loan from the local bank.   He put the money into the payroll first.   You see, Frank figured that his loyal employees were the reason that he and his family enjoyed a pretty good life.   Now it was his turn to demonstrate loyalty to all of them.   Every one of his employees had a good Christmas that year and from my perspective, God blessed old Mr. Frank with an abundance of work in the years to come.

“Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs – loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love – can be elusive to humans.” – John Grogan

So what happened to loyalty?   How did we end up in a world riddled with cold indifference?   I’ll start with the short answer – covetousness, lust and greed.   Loyalty and unselfishness gradually gave way to unfaithfulness and self-interest. Just look around.   Friendships are fleeting.   Okay, some relationships do last a lifetime, but many do not.   Have you ever been hurt by the disloyalty of someone you thought was your friend?   What about modern marriage?   These are the days of the prenuptial agreement.   Let’s sit down and spell out exactly how the marriage will be dissolved before we tie the knot.   What a joke.   Whatever happened to the notion of unconditional love?   And what about employer/employee loyalty? You may be the company hotshot today, but two weeks from now you’re just number 3 of the next 5 people being shown the door.   So much for company allegiance and job security.

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is silent understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”  – Ann Landers

Loyalty is sometimes defined as a feeling of strong support for someone or something.   It is what compels us to remain faithful to our commitments and obligations.   My favorite description of loyalty is found in the Bible,

17  A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. (Proverbs 17:17 – Living Bible)

Loyalty is resilient.   In good times and bad, in sickness and in health, you can count on the faithfulness of a true friend.  God weighs the integrity of our hearts by the loyalty (love) we give to one another. In the words of the liberator Jesus as recorded in the Bible’s Newer Testament,

12   “This is my commandment: that you love each other as I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than this””that a man should lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I tell you to do.”  (John 15:12-14 Living Bible)

Jesus also said this to his followers,

35  Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”   (John 13:35 – Living Bible)

That kind of friendship (love) takes dedication.   Unconditional love is measured by how we act – not just the way we feel.   Loyalty is love in action – like the captain who goes down with his ship, the solider who takes a bullet for someone else or the Redeemer who died to free mankind. One more thing.   Loyalty is not limited to our earthly relationships.   God desires our loyalty as well.   Do you believe in God?   Have you asked for His help?   The New Testament writer James made this interesting observation,

5   “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”  (James 1:5-7 – New Living Translation)

 No, God is not mean or controlling.   But He is precise.   If you want His help, His blessings and all of His benefits, then you will have to learn to come to God on His terms.   God does not respond to doubt, unbelief or divided loyalty.   James continued,

8   “Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and so, they are unstable in everything they do.”   (James 1:8 – New Living Translation)

Life is all about choices.   You can’t have it both ways.   It’s one thing to say, “I believe in God”, but that means very little if you live like you don’t.   You will never know the inner peace and joy that He can give if you continue to follow the ways of this doomed world system. His terms are simple enough.

28   “Then Jesus said,   “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  29  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28 – New Living Translation)

In the fullness of time the Creator stepped out from eternity into the fabric of our reality to rescue a lost people stranded on a doomed planet. He came as the man called Jesus and told of how the Almighty one offers us freedom, peace and joy. His politically incorrect and intolerant message declaring that there was only one way to God (and that He was the way) made some people mad. So they killed him. But that was all part of His plan and he walked out of the grave alive 3 days later. Hundreds saw him in the weeks that followed. And then one day, he said goodbye to his closest friends, promised He would return again, and before their eyes, He left the planet. His followers remain fiercely loyal; spreading a simple message of hope, love and redemption.   Jesus offers true liberty to all that hear his voice. He just might be calling your name again today.   He is forever loyal – even when we are not.   Why don’t you answer this time? You’ve got nothing to lose and you’ll gain freedom and life – now and forever.

Jesus, please help my friends today.   Show them your power to liberate and redeem their wandering souls. Great is your faithfulness (loyalty) to us.   May we be as faithful now (loyal) to you.   Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®  
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656

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