How many of you, brethren, have learned the vital lesson of true loyalty? Just what is loyalty? How can members of the Church of God develop this most essential character trait? You need to know — because no one will enter the Kingdom of God unless he has learned to be totally loyal to his Creator in heaven!
GOD'S ministers have been grieved to learn just how many members are disloyal to God and to His Word. These erring brethren have become careless in their loyalty toward their Creator — and toward those humans whom He has set over them. Their actions reveal that they really don't realize the importance of deep loyalty toward God, His Word, His Church, His servants. It is high time these disloyal members were roused to the deadly seriousness of the terrible SIN of DISLOYALTY!
Be 100 Percent Loyal!
As members of the very body of Jesus Christ, we must learn the vital lesson of becoming 100 percent loyal to God Almighty and to His Word. God's Word tells us how we must order our lives if we wish to be loyal to our Creator. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). To us the living Word of God is all-important. Without it, we would not know where we came from, why we were put on this earth, where we are going or bow to get there. If we are really loyal to God and to His Word, we will be diligent and zealous in carrying out God's divine instructions. But many in the Church of God have become very lax — disloyal to God — as is clearly revealed by their lives. What are some of the ways in which disloyalty toward God and His Word is revealed in the lives of members of God's Church? Some members have shown their disloyalty by outright rebellion against God's clear-cut commands. They get swallowed up in some lust or personal sin and rebel against their Creator — going back into the vomit and filth of this present evil world (II Peter 2:20-22). Others show their disloyalty toward God — not so much in outright rebellion — but in more subtle ways. Perhaps they just become neglectful, careless, indifferent to God's plain instructions (Heb. 2:1-3).
Disloyalty Among Members
Here are some specific ways in which members of God's Church show their disloyalty toward God and toward His Work. Many have shown they don't have much red fervency in their PRAYERS FOR GOD'S WORK, for God's ministers, for God's Church. When you ask them if they pray specifically for various ones of the top ministers, you will often draw a blank. They may pray, "Lord, bless the ministers!" but they wouldn't take the time to pray for individual ministers — ministers who are shouldering very heavy responsibilities in the Church of the Living God. These same members seldom remember to pray that God will really bless His Work by raising up more Coworkers to assist in the financing of the Work of God. Members show their disloyalty toward God by becoming lax or careless in faithfully paying to Him and His Work the TITHES and OFFERINGS which He has commanded us to give. Some have robbed God "in tithes and offerings" (Mal. 3:8). God commands: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal. 3:10). Shocking as it may seem, all too many members of God's Church have become careless in this matter. Some aren't faithfully paying God His tithe — and have thereby brought themselves under a curse by robbing God in this way. God does not take this matter lightly! Some are faithful in paying God His commanded tithe, but get lax in their offerings. They do not give to God liberally as they should. Rather, they give stintingly. God reveals His attitude toward such tight-fistedness: "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth cheerful giver" (II Cor. 9:6, 7). There is another way in which some members have shown themselves utterly disloyal to God and to His Work. They have felt free to CRITICIZE Mr. Armstrong or other ministers in Christ's Church. If they don't agree with the way the ministers conduct Christ's Work, then they feel it is their prerogative — even their duty — to speak up and tell the ministers where they think they are falling down, or are not doing things as Christ would have them do it. Years ago, a number of members criticized Mr. Armstrong for wanting to establish Ambassador College. They didn't believe Christ wanted a college founded. So they would only support the Church — but not the College! This shows what a colossal misunderstanding they had. Couldn't they see that Jesus Christ was using Mr. Armstrong to start the College so many others could be trained to assist him in a rapidly growing Work — a Work which had already outgrown one man? Miriam and Aaron, Moses' own sister and brother, "spoke against Moses" (Nm. 12:1). They didn't agree with him — thought he wasn't running things properly; but God sternly rebuked them for their hostile attitude. The Eternal, however, highly endorsed Moses: "My servant Moses... is faithful [or loyal] in all mine house" (verse 7). Later, Korah, Dathan and Abiram criticized Moses and Aaron. They felt perfectly free to find fault with them. But again, God Almighty showed He was 100 percent behind His servants. He upheld Moses and Aaron but severly rebuked Korah and his evil followers: "And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods... and they perished from among the congregation" (Num. 16:32, 33).
What Is Loyalty?
Very few in today's world — or even in God's Church — seem to understand what true loyalty is. It used to be that even carnal people were taught to have a certain amount of loyalty. Children were taught to have loyalty to their own family — to their parents, brothers and sisters. They were taught to have loyalty to their school, their country. "Loyalty" is defined 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" (Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 7th edition). So the real meaning of the word "loyal" is the same as "faithful." Loyalty equals faithfulness. But before one can have true loyalty, he must have FAITH IN something. How can one be loyal toward that in which he has no real faith? You must have faith (or belief) IN something or someone before you can be truly loyal. Recently, quite a bit has been said regarding "the Pueblo incident." One news magazine reported that: "Of all the 82 men captured aboard the Pueblo, not one had been able to uphold the 'Code of the U. S. Fighting Man.' " This code contains the following statement: "Should I become a prisoner of war I am bound to give only name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements DISLOYAL to my country." The crewmen of the Pueblo, it would appear, were more concerned about "survival" than in being loyal to the government of the United States — even if it cost them their lives. But, does this really surprise us, since very few in the world today really understand the meaning of true loyalty? In the early years of our nationhood, our servicemen were willing not only to suffer, but to DIE — to give their very all — for their country! All too often, this is not true today. Many soldiers during the present Vietnam War — as in the Korean War — are not willing to die for their country. They are more concerned about saving their own necks and protecting themselves than they are with protecting the honour of their country. Why is this so? Is it possible that the average fighting man in the U. S. today has no deep loyalty to the U. S. because he has not been taught the real meaning of loyalty? Because he wasn't taught to have deep respect and loyalty to his parents, teachers, country, church or toward his Creator? Is the lack of loyalty in the U.S. armed forces today due, at least in part, to the fact that the average young man is not taught to have any true loyalty toward anyone or anything?
Willing to Give Your Life?
Nathan Hale IS often mentioned in U.S. history books as a good example of patriotic loyalty. He said: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." But how many today are willing to give their life for their country? "If I am captured I will... resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape... I am prepared to give my LIFE..." — says the U.S. Serviceman's Fighting Code. But all too many American servicemen today would not really be willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause for which they supposedly are fighting. Is it possible that the average fighting man has no real conviction that his country is right? Could it just be that he has no real faith in the rightness of his country — hence no real loyalty toward his native land How can one be deeply loyal — willing to give his life — unless and until he really believes deeply in his nation and in the principles for which it stands? Likewise, will we, the members of God's Church, be willing to give our very lives for our beliefs unless and until we are firmly convinced that our beliefs are really worth dying for? Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, said: "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:35)! Prophecy reveals that in the very near future, God's people are going to be persecuted never before! The long, weary chronicles of persecution and martyrdom, as mentioned in Fox's Book of Martyrs or similar works, will be as nothing in comparison to the terrible persecution and martyrdom which will soon be unleashed upon this world. Many in the very Church of God will suffer and will be tried in order to purify them. Some of our very own friends — some in our own families — will betray us to the authorities, who will then persecute, torture and put us to death for our beliefs (Matt. 10:21). They will look upon us as the vilest of the heretics. No mercy whatsoever will be proferred! Brethren, how many of you are growing in grace and knowledge to such an extent that you will be able to withstand any and all persecution, torture or death? Will our deep loyalty to Jesus Christ enable us to ride over all these things and become victors in the end? (Rom. 8:35-39.) Remember, the more we think about and talk about and demonstrate our sincere loyalty, the more apt we are to be loyal to Jesus Christ, to His Work and to His Church in the terrifying years ahead. But also remember, you need to believe deeply in the object of your loyalty — in your came. You must have faith in before you can be truly faithful to your cause. The Bible is full of examples of the servants of God who showed their unanswering loyalty to God and to their cause — their beliefs — by being willing to give up their very lives!
Christ's Unswerving Loyalty
The supreme example of loyalty was set by JESUS CHRIST. He continually pointed to His Father and away from Himself. He always humbled Himself and exalted the Father. "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (John 5:19), said Jesus. "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me," (verse 30) said Christ. Furthermore, Jesus said: "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him" (John 7:18). This is one way you can tell if a person is really loyal. If he exalts himself and continually tries to point to himself, then he is not loyal to the one who sent him. Jesus Christ was always loyal to the Father who sent Him — was ever loyal to the cause — the Work which He had been sent to accomplish. Jesus plainly said: "I seek not mine own glory" (John 8:50). He went on to explain that. "My Father which gave them me, is greater than all" (John 10:29). And He added. "I and my Father are one" (verse 30). Yes, He and His Father were one and the same in purpose. They were completely united — in full agreement. They never worked at cross purposes. Jesus was always totally loyal to His Father. And to make absolutely certain that no one would misunderstand, He said: "My Father is GREATER than I" (John 14:28). Jesus repeatedly showed His unswerving loyalty to His Father. Firstly, He had to give up His pre-human glory and the intimacy of sitting at the Father's right hand (John 17:4, 5). For thirty-three and one-half years He lived as a normal man in order to learn, firsthand, just what it was to be a human being, subjected to all kinds of temptations (Heb. 2:18). Then, Christ proved His supreme loyalty to the Father by being willing to give up His very life for all mankind. Humanly speaking, Jesus didn't want to die — right in the very prime of life. He prayed: "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as THOU wilt" (Matt. 26:39). "And [He] prayed the third time, saying the same words" (verse 44). Jesus certainly proved His loyalty toward the Father by subjecting His own will to that of the Father's thereby proving that He was 100 percent loyal! You cannot find one instance where He ever wavered or hesitated. He did, however, frankly admit to the Father that, humanly speaking, He didn't want to die; but He was certainly willing to sacrifice His own will to that of the Father's in order to please Him by being completely loyal to Him at all times. And He loved all mankind so much He was willing to die for them, thereby becoming their Saviour. Jesus summed up His own attitude toward the Father in the following words: "My meat (food) is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34). JOHN THE BAPTIST was also a very loyal servant of God and as a result will have a great reward in the soon-coming Kingdom of God (Matt. 11:7-11). Some of the Jews began to compare the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Speaking of Jesus, they said: "And all men come to him [for baptism)" (John 3:26). Jesus actually made and baptized more disciples than John, though He didn't do it personally, but had His own disciples do it (John 4:1, 2). Notice John's reply — showing his complete loyalty to Jesus Christ: "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.... He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:27-30).
Few men in the entire history of the earth have been as loyal to their calling as was our faithful FATHER ABRAHAM. God told Abraham to get out of his native country — unto the land of Palestine (Gen. 12:1-3). "So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him..." (verse 4). God later tested Abraham's loyalty to the utmost. He commanded: "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of" (Gen. 22:2). Would Abraham obey? Would he be willing to give up his one, true, legitimate son? God intended to test Abraham's loyalty to the limit to see if Abraham loved Him more than his own flesh-and-blood son. God didn't actually want Abraham to sacrifice his son — He merely wanted to see if Abraham's loyalty to Him was so great that he wouldn't withhold anything from Him. Abraham proved his complete loyalty to God by obeying Him implicitly. God then said: "For now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me" (Gen. 22:12). Then God promised to greatly bless Abraham and his seed because of his loyalty to Him (verses 16-18). Another example of intense loyalty to God Almighty was found in DAVID, "a man after his own heart" (I Sam. 13:14). David knew Saul had been anointed as king over all Israel. He also knew that no one dare harm him or in any way lay a hand on the one whom God had anointed. Evil King Saul repeatedly sought to slay him, yet David refused to kill Saul — even though he had several opportunities to do so (see I Sam. 24, 25, 26, 31). David knew he must be loyal to his king, Saul, and above all else, to God! He would let God avenge him of his enemies — including the very anointed King of Israel, Saul. Later, when a man told David that he had, at Saul's request, actually killed him in a "mercy killing" — David wasn't impressed. He was horrified to see that this man had such little respect for God's anointed. The Amalekite man who killed Saul was ordered to be slain by David, in order that others might learn to fear God and respect His anointed. (See II Sam. 1.)
First Example of Disloyalty
Now let us briefly look at a few Bibles examples of DISloyalty. The first instance of disloyalty was found in LUCIFER. He was the first being to let DISloyalty actually take root in his heart. "For thou [Lucifer] hast said in thine HEART, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isa. 14:13, 14). (See also Ezek. 28:12-17.) Lucifer, who had a very high position in the government of God, began to harbour disloyalty toward his very own Maker. Instead of resisting this evil thought of disloyalty, he gave in to it and led one-third of the angelic hosts into hideous rebellion against their Creator (Rev. 12:4). It was this sin of disloyalty to the government of Almighty God that made an adversary (Satan, an opponent) out of Lucifer, the one-time great light-bringer. (See Rev. 12:4; Luke 10:18; II Peter 2:4). Later ADAM AND EVE proved disloyal to their Creator, sinned and, as always, had to suffer the consequences of their sin (Gen. 3:1-19). David's own son, ABSALOM, let thoughts of disloyalty toward his father and his king, David, fill his heart. He connived to wrest the kingdom of Israel from his father by flattery, but was thwarted in this attempt (see II Sam. 15:1-6). He was finally killed — had a dart thrust through his wicked heart and thereby ended his terrible disloyalty toward his own father (II Sam. 18:14). One of David's own trusted counsellors, AHITHOPHEL, was willing to switch his loyalty from David to the rebel, Absalom, in order to procure what he thought to be an important advantage (II Sam. 15:12-31). But his disloyalty ended, as always, in ignominy — by his taking his own life (II Sam. 17:23). One of the worst examples of disloyalty of all time was found in the life of JUDAS ISCARIOT, the treasurer for Christ and His disciples (John 12:6). Judas was willing to sell Jesus Christ, the Saviour, for only 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14, 15, 47). He betrayed Him with a deceitful kiss. But he, too, died in infamy — took his own life by hanging himself (Matt. 27:1-5).
Loyalty First Toward God
Members of God's Church need to begin practicing loyalty in all facets of their lives. Here are a few specific examples of how men of God in the Bible showed their loyalty to God, to their country and to their family. MORDECAI showed his loyalty to his country by revealing an assassination plot against the life of the king whom God had set over the kingdom of Medo-Persia. He was greatly rewarded for his loyalty (Esther 2:21-23; 6:1-14). CHLOE, a faithful member of the Corinthian Church of God, showed her loyalty to God, to His Church and to God's minister, Paul, by faithfully reporting that fornication was being committed by a member in the Church. This report resulted in the temporary expulsion of the fornicator (I Cor. 5:1-13); but it finally brought about his ultimate repentance and subsequent readmission back into the Church (II Cor. 2:6-11). JOSEPH faithfully took to his father the "evil report" of the conduct of his brothers (Gen. 37:2). Though some would consider him a "tattler" nonetheless, Joseph did precisely what he should have done. MICHAL, Saul's daughter, loyally reported to David, her husband, a plot in which her father, Saul, intended to kill David (I Sam. 19:10, 11). She thereby showed the proper loyalty to her husband. However, she later proved disloyal to her husband. We sometimes find that there is a "conflict of loyalties." But the Scriptures reveal the principle of how to handle a situation in which there is a conflict of loyalties. Jesus Christ commanded His apostles to preach the gospel — to preach and teach in His name. But the high priest and the council commanded the apostles not to teach in the name of Jesus. What should they do? "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). This scripture reveals that we must always obey God rather than men — if there is a conflict of authority. SHADRACH, MESHACH and ABEDNEGO understood this principle and refused to obey Nebuchadnezzar's command to worship the golden image. They were determined to obey God rather than men and were willing to suffer whatever consequences might follow. This took real deep loyalty to and faith in God Almighty, their Creator (See Daniel 3). DANIEL also understood that his first loyalty was to God. He refused to obey a decree of Darius when he knew that this decree was wrong and he would have to offend God if he kept this human command (see Daniel 6).
Are You Loyal to God's Church?
Brethren, how loyal are you? Are you really loyal: to the Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ? to His Church and to the human servants or ministers whom He has set over you? How loyal are you to Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and to Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong, the ones whom (by their fruits) we know God has called in a very special way and has given them a fearsome — yet wonderful — commission and responsibility in directing God's Work on this earth today? Are you loyal to the other ministers whom Christ has set in authority — under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong? Are you completely loyal to all those human servants whom Christ has set in His Church or in His Work — especially those supervisors who are not "ordained" to any position in the ministry, but who have just as surely been set in positions of responsibility in the mighty Work of God? Have you learned to have true, deep loyalty toward your family, your government, your Church and your Creator? Can God really trust you? Can He totally rely upon you to obey Him at all times? Could He say of you what He said of Abraham: "For now I Know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me"? (Gen. 22:12.) How faithful or loyal do you think you are? God says: "Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint" (Prov. 25:19).
Can God Trust You?
God Almighty will not entrust you with immortality unless and until you prove you are absolutely faithful — until you demonstrate that you can and will rightly use the divine powers which He wants to give you. Can you be trusted? Would you take a postage stamp or use office stationery which didn't belong to you? Do you work just as diligently when the "boss" is not around? Can you be trusted in small matters? Christ said: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10). Do you criticize your supervisor, your employer, your minister — or perhaps even criticize the way Christ is using Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong or Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong? Are you letting a tiny "root of disloyalty" sprout in your heart? If so, such deep-seated disloyalty will eventually destroy you! Brethren, it is high time we turned completely from the sin of UNfaithfulness or DISloyalty toward anyone who is in authority over us — from God right on down to His ministers, your husband, your employer or anyone to whom you owe absolute loyalty. Christ solemnly promised: "Be thou faithful [loyal] unto DEATH, and I will give thee a crown of LIFE" (Rev. 2:10). May God Almighty grant that His people learn the lesson of true faithfulness — 100 percent loyalty — to Him and to all those whom He has set in authority over them. Remember, you will never enter the Kingdom of God unless you learn to be totally loyal!