Summary: Loyalty is a virtue. Loyalty seeks to honour God, it values the relationship and God rewards our faithfulness. God is loyal.
Loyalty is a virtue. Loyalty is to be faithful, to stick to a commitment.
• But unfortunately loyalty is losing its appeal today. People do not see it as necessarily a good thing.
• Marriages are breaking up because spouses do not want to keep to their commitment to stick together “for better or for worse”.
• I once came across a cup with this caption on its side – “I like my wife the way I like my car…” – I was wondering what it means, until I lift it up and read the print at the bottom – “a new model every year!”
“Stickability” is what is lacking today. We want get out the moment the pressure is on or things have changed.
I was chatting with a young lecturer from a Seminary when they were here a couple of weeks back. He asked how long have I been serving here and I said, over 20 years. He was surprised that I stayed so long. “Over 20 years! You must have run out of stories to tell, illustrations to share, or things to say in your sermons, preaching to the same crowd over 20 years.”
You see, if you move to a new place, you can repeat all your sermons again!
I was actually surprised myself, by his view. To be a pastor and preaching to your congregation is not a vocation or a career move. It is not out of convenience that I serve. It is a calling. We are to do what God has called and entrusted, and stay faithful at it until the end.
What is loyalty? It is to stay devoted or faithful to a person or a cause.
• Biblically speaking, I like to define it this way: “Loyalty is to stay faithful (to a person or a cause) because it is the right thing, a good thing and the godly thing to do.”
We see this in the lives of many characters in the Bible.
• Job chose to not to curse God despite his many unreasonable sufferings.
• Abraham chose not to question God when challenged to offer up his son Isaac. He remained devoted to God above everything else.
• Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, suffered, wrongly accused and imprisoned, but not a word of complaint from his mouth.
• Daniel refused to bow to the King despite the threat of being thrown into the lions’ den. He stayed loyal to God.
We’re going to learn from Ruth today. Only 2 books of the Bible named after women, Ruth and Esther. Both tell the stories of brave and faithful women.
• Let’s read RUTH 1:1-18. The story took place during the time of the judges, probably during Gideon’s time.
• A family of four – father, mother and 2 sons – left Judah (homeland) because of famine and came to Moab. The 2 sons later married the women from the land.
• The father Elimelech died not long after. And 10 years later, the 2 sons also died, leaving behind the women.
As a widow with no man in the family, Naomi lost all standing in society. Being in a foreign land makes it more difficult, so when she heard of news of harvest back home in Judah, she decided to return.
• Naomi she said to her 2 daughters-in-law, "Go back. Return to your mother’s house. You will be better off there.”
• You can sense Naomi’s attempts at trying to convince them, that she had nothing to offer them. She had nothing that can provide them security, nothing.
• After much urging, one of them Orpah returned to Moab. The other, Ruth stayed.
Ruth 1:16-17 - "Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deals with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."
Why did Ruth stay? No clear answer but we can get a hint from the exchange.
• They both wept badly, so it wasn’t for a lack of love on Orpah’s side. They had been faithful to her sons. Both knew Naomi had nothing to offer them.
• Despite the difficulties, they had been together for a while. So what tipped the balance for Ruth?
Ruth has already made a “pre-decision” apparently. It has something to do with Naomi’s God, at least we can tell from what she said.
• She said, “Your God will be my God. May the LORD deals with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."