Loyalty is a prized virtue for modern people. But where is the best place to look for loyalty and where is the worst place to find it? If you are looking for a good dog, go for loyal. But you don’t want loyal friends; you don’t want loyal employees and you don’t want a loyal spouse. In fact whatever you do, don’t be loyal yourself. That’s because loyalty is a flawed virtue. That may sound controversial, but whatever you do, do not be loyal. You are probably getting a little uncomfortable by now, and so let me show you why faithfulness is the biblical virtue you want to pursue instead.
Loyalty Doesn’t Make an Entry in the Bible
This list of spiritual fruits has come to define what are considered virtues in our societies. In our societies loyalty gets spoken about often; it’s sought after and encouraged in our post modern era…but if we look at the list of fruit of the Spirit it is not on this list. Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
It’s not a fruit of the Spirit. Does it surprise you? It surprised me too. Loyalty, which implies an unswerving allegiance or devoted attachment to something or someone, actually isn’t mentioned much in the Bible at all.
Do Not Be Loyal
Loyalty as a modern virtue usually blindly overlooks things which need to be corrected. It doesn’t stand up to the object of its devotion to say, “I think you are wrong.” Or “I think that was uncalled for or unacceptable.” Loyalty doesn’t help us grow and develop into people who are discerning between what is right and wrong. Loyalty is blinding.
So, what should we look for, or what virtue should we aspire to demonstrate instead? In place of loyalty, faithfulness is the virtue that we need to be looking for. And when it comes to faithfulness, it speaks more in terms of honesty than allegiance. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6).
Faithful are the wounds of a friend
And so, if we want to grow and develop into mature christians, and we want our friends or partners to become more mature we need faithfulness, not loyalty.
The Potential of Faithfulness
In 1993, just before the first democratic elections in South Africa, Nelson Mandela called for the legal voting age to be lowered to 14 because the youth had played a large role in the fight against the Apartheid government. Mandela was an icon of the liberation movement, the president of the ANC and a high-profile international politician. But those closest to him said “no”. They said 14 year olds could not think correctly on state matters and make wise choices.
In his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, he expresses gratitude to the people who stood up to him. He owned the need to never be surrounded by “yes men”. Rather faithfulness should be first prize. How many loyal “yes men” were in South African government when state wide spread corruption was allowed to occur?
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ
Who will you be?
As a wife, are you faithful to your spouse who needs to be quietly and graciously corrected when he is wrong? And do you demand the same faithfulness from your husband?
Loyal parents can overlook the fact that sometimes their child is wrong and lie to cover-up their child’s wrongdoing. Are we faithful mothers and fathers, who walk the road beside our children, pick them up when they stumble, correct them when they’re wrong and encourage them to take responsibility for their actions?
And will you be a faithful friend, a faithful teammate? As a faithful friend, do you get alongside a friend who is walking blindly into sin and point them to a better way of life? When we hear a close friend say something inappropriate, do we try to be loyal and ignore it or do we have a quiet word and confront them with love and grace – that’s the faithful act of friendship. Want the best for your friend? “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
As a faithful worker, do you take heed of the wrongs and offer correction?
Whatever You Do, Do Not Be Loyal, Be Faithful
So forget about loyalty. Do not be loyal and don’t look for loyal friends. Look for faithful friends. They will stick by you when times are tough; they will make sacrifices for you. But when you get it wrong, they will let you know in a firm but loving way.