The Limits of Loyalty
A young executive was on the fast track to success. The corporate boss liked his drive and tenacity. To show his approval of the up and coming young man, the president ceremoniously gave him a lapel pin with the company's logo. Several weeks later they passed in the hallway and the pin was not on the young man's suit. The senior executive was troubled and asked, "Did you lose your pin?" The young, aspiring executive looked at his lapel and said, "Uh-oh, I must have left it on my pajamas."

Loyalty is generally considered a noble virtue for a person to possess. The response of the young executive indicated that he was loyal to the company-even to an extreme extent. A strong loyalty to any person or organization is not intrinsically wrong, though such can be dangerous. How so, Stephen? Well, what if the person or group you are loyal to begins to promote or engage in immorality? What if they ask you to do something wrong for them or with them? What then? One's loyalty may be cause for temptation in such cases.

Abraham Lincoln is attributed with the following words of wisdom: "I must stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong." President Lincoln believed that there is a limit to human loyalty. The apostle Paul believed the same centuries earlier. He wrote in Galatians 1:10 - "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ."

As a disciples of the Lord, we must ultimately be faithful to God, not men, and this is what the apostle means here. Paul had no intentions of allowing his loyalties to any individual or group supercede his devotion to God. In the ultimate sense, his intent was to please God, not men. However, that is not to say that Paul did not try to please men as much as possible. He most certainly did labor and sacrifice much in an effort to appeal to men (I Cor. 9:19; 10:33), but these efforts were always guided by his overriding fidelity to the Lord. Paul was loyal to certain men; he stood with those who were right. But, this did not stop him from rebuking these same people when they erred. In Galatians 2, for example, the apostle Peter was involved in the sin of being partial to the Hebrew Christians. His hypocritical behavior toward the Gentile Christians was simply wrong. Paul certainly had loyalty to Peter, as a fellow apostle, but such did not lead Paul into committing the same transgression. When Paul arrived, he "withstood [Peter] to his face, because he was to be blamed" (Gal. 2:11). It would have been easier for Paul to keep quiet and simply honor his loyalty to the apostle, but such was not right. Paul understood that there is a limit to one's loyalty toward his fellow man. Had Peter and the others not repented of their sinful behavior, Paul would have certainly parted company with them.

Another example of such can be seen in the case of Demas. Initially, Demas was a faithful servant of God and a co-laborer with Paul (Philemon 24; Col. 4:14). However, he later forsook the truth "having loved this present world" (II Tim. 4:10). Did personal loyalty to Demas lead Paul to likewise turn his back on God? Absolutely not, for the apostle's chief loyalty was with the Lord.

When people are kind to us and treat us well, there is a natural desire to be loyal to them There is nothing wrong with such (as in the case of the young executive), as long as one remembers where his primary loyalty must always lie-with Almighty God and the ways of righteousness. Matthew 6:33 - " first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..." Our loyalty to our friends, family, and employers must always be subordinate to our devotion to the Lord. Jesus said in Matthew 10:37 - "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." He who loves anyone or anything more than the Lord is not worthy of Him.