The word “loyalty” these days get thrown around a lot especially by people in the pulpit. Some church leaders are quite fond of tying loyalty around your neck like a yoke. Simply put, some demand you to be loyal even if they persistently live and justify a life contrary to biblical standards of what church leaders should be that are found in: 1 Timothy 3:1-13, 2 Timothy 2:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, Acts 6:1-6, and Exodus 18:21-22.
I would like to remind ourselves that our loyalty should be on God and His Word and if our church leaders no longer uphold such biblical standards even to the point of persistent deception and sin for many years without repentance, we are not obliged to stick around and just pray it over in silence. Not even bothering to correct because of “thou shall not judge thy anointed one!”
Of course, nobody is above biblical correction. It is for our own good and especially the welfare of the congregation if we happen to be in the pulpit often. Even Paul “a newbie” (compared to Peter) had to correct Peter of his hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-21). Do not forget that this is the Apostle Peter who walked with Jesus and explicitly described by the Scripture whom Jesus sought, asked (do you love me thrice) and restored with anointing. Will talk more about Paul and Peter in another post.
I am not encouraging the brethren to find fault and just leave the church because of a certain disagreement with a certain leader. Again there is no perfect church and there will be disagreements even among leadership but all should exercise wisdom, discernment, love, patience, and forgiveness.
However, if a leader or leaders are truly at fault, tries to hide or justify or simply AINH* (as if nothing happened) or worse AINHADIA* (as if nothing happened and does it again) and then demands loyalty like a fascist totalitarian, beware!
The best example for this topic is King David and King Saul.
King Saul when he was alive and at the throne was David’s king. David became Saul’s servant and armor bearer in 1 Samuel 16:21. Later on, David rose into the ranks, became popular and very successful in his military campaign against their enemies to the point that King Saul felt so much jealousy and hatred for him (1 Samuel 18). Eventually, King Saul plotted to kill David (actually tried to kill David twice; 1 Samuel 18:10 and 19:10) and even ordered his men to capture and murder him (1 Samuel 19:11).
So what did David do? He runs away! Later on, David had an opportunity to kill King Saul twice but he never did (1 Samuel 24 and 26). He only proved to King Saul that he had the ability to kill him yet he did not want to harm God’s anointed one because David believed that God will judge righteously between the two of them but there is more to the passages than meets the eye.
Here is the passage 1 Samuel 24:8-22:
Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. 9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.
14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”
16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”
22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
What did you notice?
I will squeeze out the obvious here:
- David highly respected King Saul. He addressed King Saul as his lord, king, and father (in the brown font). He even bowed down before King Saul showing reverence for his kingly office. King Saul was also his father in law when David married Michal, Saul’s daughter.
- David questions King Saul. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’?
- David proved to King Saul that he was favored by God and he exercised mercy. This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you;
- David believed that King Saul is still God’s anointed and he will not physically harm him. ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord because he is the Lord’s anointed.
- Yet David rebuked King Saul in the presence of both their men. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”
- King Saul regretted and promised not to harm David but he was never true to his word. In 1 Samuel 26 we will see here that King Saul pursued David again and confessed he wanted to harm him – 21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”
- David respected and made peace with King Saul but never went back to the King. In fact, twice he rebuked King Saul and twice David went his own separate way. 1 Samuel 24:22 – So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. 1 Samuel 26:25 – Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.”So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.
So, as you can see perfectly, even though David respected and revered King Saul, he was not foolish enough to stick with him. It doesn’t even matter to David if people think that he was being disloyal to the king by leaving him. King David was loyal to God first (he keeps repeating that King Saul was God’s anointed) and even to King Saul (by proving to him he meant no harm to the king).
Also having an abusive, unrepentant leader is quite toxic and not healthy to both your personal life and spiritual welfare. Most of all, the church suffers spiritually despite having the look of happy faces during Sunday services.
Yet what we also learned here that I think is not usually preached (or at least in this part of the world) is that being loyal means:
- Not tolerating a persistent sinful lifestyle of a brethren (from church leader to fellow believer) 1 Timothy 5:20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.,
- It is okay to question the injustice or mistake 1 Samuel 24:9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’?
- We should expose, refute and rebuke what is wrong Expose – Ephesians 5:11-12 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. Refute – Titus 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Rebuke – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
- We should cut our fellowship with a persistent unrepentant brethren or leadership. 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.
Titus 3:10-11 Amplified Bible (AMP) 10 After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], 11 well aware that such a person is twisted and is sinning; he is convicted and self-condemned [and is gratified by causing confusion among believers].
Two things usually happen if the leadership mutates into something grotesque:
- Either you correct (of course, in a proper respectful manner and right timing) the person in private or with other leaders. 1 Timothy 5:1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers,
- Or you leave peacefully without much fuss if the erring church leader chose to become an overlord rather than a servant of God. Besides, it is stressful to stick around if you are always burdened with guilt and anger because of the injustice you are witnessing. 2 Timothy 3:3-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
Yes, loyalty is very important. We should be loyal and faithful to God first (His Word) and then be loyal to our family, leadership, brethren, the church as a whole. Usually, a secured church leader never demands loyalty like a dictator from his team leaders or congregation because he knows he does not own the church or the lives of the believers.
It is not you, me, not even the Apostles who purchased the church with his blood but only Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Acts 20:28 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God,[a] which he bought with his own blood.
In all honesty, the bible even says that it is the Lord who brings people to the church. Not by our loyalty to each other, not by our talented music team, eloquent of speech, theological knowledge, air conditioner, free foods, beautiful people and megachurch size building. Acts 2:46-47 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (will expound more about this in another post too)
Blessed 2018 Everyone! ^_^
*AINH (As If Nothing Happened) *AINHADIA (As If Nothing Happened And Does It Again) – I just coined these terms for this article. Peace!!