Serving God out of loyalty is very similar to serving God out of duty. Our allegiance to Christ is a great motivator for doing the right thing. In II Timothy, the apostle Paul develops the idea of a “worthy soldier” who serves the Lord out of loyalty. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful (or loyal) men, who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a worthy soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (II Tim 2:2-4).
Now Paul is not forbidding us from cooking our meals, paying our bills, going to school, or other activities we may consider everyday life. He is painting a picture, an analogy. Just as a soldier, once enlisted, leaves behind his everyday activities to singularly focus on serving his country; so the believer, once saved, leaves behind the “sin which so easily entangles us” (Heb 12:1) and singularly serves the Lord Jesus Christ. That singular allegiance is so strong that Jesus used the most jolting language available to Him – hating one’s parents and loved ones – to illustrate its necessity. (See our post on Hating One’s Parents and Love in the Big Circle).
It is also important to teach our children about sticking to the things they have been asked to do out of a sense of loyalty. I don’t know how many times I have awaken to an early alarm clock and set out on the long commute downtown out of a sense of loyalty to my employer and duty to provide for my family. Teaching our children about loyalty in a family setting will prepare them not only for their adult responsibilities but for loyalty to God when life’s challenges come.
When our children were still at home, we had a phrase we would use, “This is what the Lehmans do.” It was not a statement of pride or self-promotion; it was a statement of family identity. I remember one occasion when our high-schooler asked, “Do I really have to go along with you and spend the weekend visiting my sister in college again?” I said, “Yes, because spending this kind of time together is what the Lehmans do.” He replied, “That’s what you always say.” (We also practiced flexibility and this child spent plenty of weekends with friends when it was appropriate.) But you get the idea, when the time is right, we lean on our family loyalty.
And it applied to we parents as well. There were many evenings when I thought I was just too tired to start a time of family Bible reading before we sent the kids off to bed. But I would tell myself the same thing that I told the kids, “This is what the Lehmans do,” and we would launch into our time together. The result, by God’s grace, is a family that enjoys being together and is loyal to each other.
Serving God out of loyalty is similar to serving God out of duty. It is the “right thing to do.”