Loyalty: 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? Dare we say 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. That’s because loyalty is a flawed virtue. That may sound controversial, but I’ll say it again: loyalty is a flawed virtue.
Loyalty doesn’t make an entry in the Bible
Loyalty, which implies an unswerving allegiance or devoted attachment to something or someone, actually isn’t mentioned much in the Bible at all. Paul says:
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, live by the Spirit,
And goes on in vs 22…
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
This list of fruits has come to define what are considered virtues. Loyalty gets spoken about often; it’s sought after and encouraged…but it’s not on this list. It’s not a fruit of the Spirit. Does it surprise you, that loyalty is not considered a fruit of the spirit or a core virtue?
A flawed “virtue”
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.
So, what should we look for, or what virtue should we aspire to demonstrate instead? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In place of loyalty, faithfulness is the virtue that we need to be looking for.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (27:6)”
And so if we want to grow and develop, and we want our friends or partners to grow and develop and become better people, we need faithfulness, not loyalty. The dictionary defines faithfulness as long-continued and steadfast fidelity to whatever one is bound to by a pledge, duty or obligation.
The potential of faithfulness
In 1993, just before the first democratic elections, Nelson Mandela called for the legal voting age to be lowered to 14. 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”. 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 government when state capture was allowed to occur?
As a wife are you faithful to your spouse who needs to be quietly and graciously corrected when they are wrong? And do you demand the same faithfulness from your husband?
Are we faithful mothers, who walk the road beside our children, pick them up when they stumble, correct them when they’re wrong, encourage them to take responsibility for their actions? Loyal parents can overlook the fact that sometimes their child is wrong and lie to cover-up their child’s wrongdoing.
As a faithful friend, do you get alongside a friend who is walking blindly into the sin?
As a faithful worker, do take heed of the the wrongs and offer correction?
Who will you be?
So forget about loyalty. Don’t look for loyal friends and don’t try to be loyal. 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.
And will you be a faithful friend, a faithful teammate? 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 – that’s the faithful act of friendship.