This month, as part of our “In the Line of Duty” series, we’ve been looking at some of the core values that every Christian has a duty to practice or exhibit in their lives. We’re doing this in conjunction with military appreciation month because we have so many military personnel here at In Focus Church and we’ve learned that our different military branches themselves use a lot of these same core values.
Now, let me set this up again by defining duty, but I am going to do it a bit differently. I am going to personalize it from a Christian perspective. That which I owe Jesus Christ. That which I am bound by natural, supernatural, moral and legal obligation. Obedience and submission to God. Reverence and respect towards my heavenly Father. What I ought to do according to God’s Word, the Bible.
That is duty. I want to look at Ecclesiastes 12:13 as it gives us a broad stroke definition of what our duty is as a human being.
13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
All mankind. I love that. Why? Because it is the duty of the created ones to follow their creator, whether we acknowledge and accept our duty or not… Now, if you are a Christian, I am going to tell you why it is so important to fulfill your duty as a believer. We do this by God’s grace. Here is the main point of this series, why it matters:
In the line of duty we become more like Christ.
This is the goal of our lives, to be more like Jesus. So, by grace through faith not only are we saved but also we fulfill our duty before God, because your duty tells your feelings to take a back seat to your faith. This is important because you don’t always “feel” like doing what you ought to do. How many of you know we must do this at times because being led by emotions will often take us places we never should go? So, by grace we obey God’s Word, we trust His ways and we fulfill our duty, we do what we ought to do out of obedience and reverence to God. However, as I’ve said beforeand I’ll say it again, we don’t want to have joyless duty. God made our emotions and they allow us to worship Him and love Him so we need them if our relationship is going to be one of delighting in the Lord. So we want to move from mere duty-driven Christianity to you do what you love to do, because what you love to do is what you ought to do.
This is how King David approached God in Psalm 119 when he said over and over again I delight in your decrees and I love to keep your commands. So, in the line of duty we become more courageous, we become more joyful, and we become people of integrity.
I want to cover another lost characteristic and word and it this; in the line of duty we become more like Christ and we become more loyal. Loyalty is a lost virtue. We are not typically loyal to much of anything anymore, not our jobs, our spouses, our churches, our leaders — the simple reason is because we are primarily loyal to, wait for it… ourselves. To me it is sad that the first thing most people think about when I say the word loyalty is a dog. Hachiko is probably the most famous, but there are plenty of stories out there. Now, I love dogs and they are loyal, but I know the creator who created every good thing put that in them in the first place, and He certainly expects the crown jewel of creation, which is you, to exhibit loyalty in an even greater manner than “man’s best friend.” Because in reality God is man’s best friend as we will soon learn, and you not only want Him as your friend but you should want to be loyal to Him above all other things. If some of us were as loyal to God as we are to our crappy sports teams (I speak from experience) our lives would be radically different.
God is the originator of all things. God is loyal, so loyalty is of God. His loyal heart is what empowers us to be loyal to Him.
God is loyal so we are to be loyal.
Let me define loyalty to better help us grasp what we are talking about. Loyalty can be defined as faithfulness to commitments. A Christian viewpoint would define it this way, a noble, unswerving allegiance, rooted in faith and love, that binds hearts together in common purpose.
You know what I see very clearly in that definition? Loyalty is what binds my heart together with God and God’s people to accomplish a common purpose. That common purpose is God’s purpose, and God’s purpose always includes working together as God’s people. Loyalty is the glue that holds us together so our joint partnership in the gospel accomplishes more than if we were isolated from each other. Let’s say it this way, Loyalty precedes the power to do more together than we could ever do alone.
Let’s further illustrate the importance of fulfilling our duty to have loyalty by looking at 2 Chronicles 16:9. I was just at “Honors Day” this past week for Josiah, our 14 year old son, and as they were giving out awards I kept thinking about how the teachers and administrators picked certain kids to win awards — what characteristics were they looking for?
Well, here is what the Bible says God is looking for…
9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (NKJV)
How many of you would like to have God’s support? Well, this is why loyalty is so important. God is on a constant search and the object of God’s search is loyalty. That’s what He is looking for and the Bible says His power will be given to those who possess it. Church, I want us to be found as loyal people to God and to one another, because God is always searching for a loyal man or woman to support. When God finds loyalty He does mighty things!! Once God finds a Noah, He can send a flood and build a boat. Once he finds a Caleb and Joshua He can take the Promised Land. Once He has an Elijah he can turn a nation around. God is always looking for loyalty because once he finds loyal heart; He can do mighty things in the earth. What about a loyal people, a loyal church? What mighty things could he do through us if we would fulfill our duty to be loyal to him and one another?
Loyalty precedes the power to do more together than we could ever do alone.
What students could walk in purity and holiness? What orphan could find a home? What campus could be reached with the Gospel? What community could see the love of Jesus? What nation could be reached if we would have the support and power of God in our lives because of our loyalty to Him and one another?
In the line of duty we become more like Christ and there was no one more loyal to God and to God’s people than God Himself. The trinity, one God, three persons is the template for true loyalty. This is why the Bible implores us to pursue godliness. Godliness is simply the quality of being more like God. Since God is loyal, those who are godly will pursue loyalty in their own lives. Let me add that loyalty is both pursued and given. We pursue God then He gives it to us by His Spirit. We cannot manufacture it ourselves. So why does God give us loyalty? First and foremost so we can be loyal to Him. Loyalty to God is our first and greatest obligation.
Hebrews 10:22 says it this way, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith… (NKJV) A true heart is a heart that is loyal to God with no duplicity. Basically meaning we are not two-faced about our commitment to Him. If placed in a situation where we have to choose either God or man, we choose God every time. God comes first.
Whether you realize it or not our loyalties between man and God are tested everyday. And nothing tests our loyalties like difficulty, difficulty will detect where our true loyalties lie. For reference, let’s look at the story behind our main scripture in 2 Chronicles 16:9. I am going to interject some current parallels and here is what we will see…
Loyalty sees God as our only source of salvation and deliverance.
So Asa is the king of Jerusalem and like all the kings of Jerusalem he is facing the difficulty of dealing with a hostile enemy. (We are all still dealing with a hostile enemy who is coming to test your loyalties I assure you.) Now, early on in his reign a million man army rose up against him and invaded their land. Asa was afraid and cried out to the Lord. (When you are afraid to whom do you cry out? At some point and time every believer has to come to a place of realizing we are naked and afraid without God and we cry out to Him for help.)
Because God is loyal, He intervened and struck down the Ethiopian army giving Asa a huge victory. Asa saw God perform the impossible on his behalf and rescue and deliver him. (Again, many of you have seen God come through and save and rescue you, which elicits our loyalty towards Him). Now, fast forward 6 years and Asa is a seasoned veteran. He is stronger and wealthier now. (Ever notice how we can start to feel good about ourselves and think we have it all figured out?) Again, he is attacked by another king. So what would Asa do this time? Would he call on God again whom he knew had delivered him before or would he rely on his own strength now?
Well, in this story Asa chose the latter and made his own plan by paying off another king to help in the battle. And on the surface his planned worked, but the way he accomplished it did not make God happy. Some of you have done things in your own strength or through your own resources and it appears to have got your desired end result but deep down you know or maybe you don’t know, but you turned to yourself or something else first instead of God because the pressure caused you to want to speed things up or get out of the difficulty. So when that happens — we go all Frank Sinatra and do it our way.
So, in Asa’s case the Lord sent a messenger to deliver this message from 2 Chronicles 16:9 9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. Let’s read the second half of the verse… In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”
God is looking for those who will look to Him exclusively as their source of rescue, deliverance, rather than relying on their own strength and human resources. Those who rely on God in the face of overwhelming difficulty and distress are viewed by God as loyal. In difficult times and troubling situations, times where we don’t understand, times where our wants and desires are not lining up with God’s, tired of waiting — are we loyal to God in spiritual conflicts? Are we loyal to God’s people, our friends in times of human conflict?
If Asa would have remained loyal to God he would have received God’s power. Remember loyalty precedes power. God had more victories in store for Asa beyond his wildest dreams, but he never touched them because he turned elsewhere for help. God has victories for you and I beyond our wildest dreams but we must continue or start to turn towards Him as our only source of salvation and deliverance.
Loyalty sees God as our only source of salvation and deliverance.
Do you want relief or do you want the mighty salvation of God? Because if you just want relief then human resources will do, but if you need and want salvation and deliverance then there is only one source for that and it is the one true God. Think about it, if I am struggling with addiction I don’t need relief I need deliverance. If I am on the verge of losing my marriage I don’t need relief I need salvation and restoration. If my heart is black and dead apart from Christ I don’t need some relief I need a resurrection!!!
For those that have been saved, the same God that saved you in the first place is the same God that still saves you today. For those that are awakening to the reality that you need a savior, then there is only one who can save and deliver and his name is Jesus, nothing else will satisfy and no one else deserves your loyalty like Him.
For those that have been saved, the same God that saved you in the first place is the same God that still saves you today.
Do you know why no one deserves loyalty like him, because no one gives loyalty like Him. Now, you may be thinking why is loyalty such a big deal, why does God care so much about it? Simply put it is because disloyalty is what disrupted heaven’s unity and joy and the author of that disloyalty is still trying to disrupt the church’s unity and joy and God hates it. Lucifer’s disloyalty fueled by pride was the catalyst for the fall and introduced darkness into a world that only had light.
So some of the strongest verses in the Bible are directed towards believers who give their loyalty towards Christ and then betray his love. Why? Because God has been so loyal to you. God sent His only son to be sacrificed in our place on the cross, receiving none of the enemy’s accusations against you and allowing no one to take you out of His hand — so now our obligation and duty is to return that loyalty to Him. But that duty, that obligation is supposed to be out of voluntary love. You cannot have loyalty without love. Our great affection for God causes us to love him and want to be loyal to him alone. And while we are commanded to love everyone it is impossible to be loyal to everyone. Love is directed towards all mankind, even to our enemies according to Jesus, but loyalty only to a few. It is not contrived or manufactured, it is given by God for those who pursue it in Christ.
Here is where the redemption story becomes so amazing in this context. In Luke 4:5–8 Satan took Jesus up on a high mountain to tempt Him away from God. I’ll give you what is rightfully yours if you will worship me; give your loyalty to me. Basically inviting Jesus to follow in his betraying footsteps. He attacked God’s character and whether or not He truly was a good father. I want you to recognize this tactic because it is the same one Satan used on Adam and Eve and it is the same accusation he will use on you. “Come on Jesus. Your “good” Father is calling you to death?! I won’t do that to you. I will give you everything your Father is offering to give you but all I want is your love and worship. But that’s not good enough for your Heavenly Father. He wants you to suffer, and die on a cross. Love and worship me as your father and I’ll give you your inheritance in a more dignified way that you really deserve.”
I hear those same lies today, especially in the church. “You don’t need to pick up your cross. I won’t ask you to die daily like your “good” heavenly Father. If you will just be loyal to me you can have a good life and be comfortable forever.”
All of these promises to Jesus were empty lies, just like all the lies Satan feeds you and I today. Jesus knew they were lies and refused to renounce his loyalty to His Heavenly Father. Instead He laid down His life for us and made a way for us to be loyal to God just as He was. Although we were born into sin and brokenness, Jesus came to save us from that lost condition and give us salvation. This salvation would produce a never-ending heart of affectionate allegiance in all of us for the one who saved and delivered us from darkness. Redemption says we get to voluntarily love God and be loyal to Him forever.
“Yeah, but you don’t know how bad I have messed up or the darkness of my heart.” True, but God does and He still loves you because He is a covenant keeping God who is loyal to His promises so He is loyal to you. He is loyal to His promise to seek and save that which is lost. He is loyal to His promise to save any who would repent and call on His name as Savior because he does not want anyone to perish.
If you are believer, I want you to know God is loyal to you and He is the one that empowers you to be loyal to Him. Just like Abraham was called a friend of God, so can you. In the case of Abraham He was loyal to him even when Abraham messed up and was wrong (See story of Abraham and Abimelech). This is the kind of loyalty God gives, and if you are like me I need a God who will be my friend even when I make mistakes. “No greater love has a man than this than he lays down His life for his friend,” and that is what Jesus did for you and me while we were still far from Him. This is the God who has been loyal to you and me through Jesus death and resurrection and has therefore won our loyalties.
God is loyal so we are to be loyal. If we will be loyal to Him and to His people that He has placed in our lives, we will have the power, God’s power, to do more than we could ever have accomplished alone. That’s why the church must be loyal to our one true God.
(Many of these points and theological angles come from the book “Loyalty” by author Bob Sorge)