September 7, 2022
What is more important; truth or loyalty?
I had a friend who made a bad promise. I mean that the promise itself was wrong, not just unwise. He threatened someone that if they did a certain thing that he was going to retaliate. But the certain thing that the other person did was not wrong. He believed that he had to follow through with his retaliation because he had made a promise and he was the type of person who always kept his word, no matter what. I tried for a very long time to convince him that the actual wrong was his bad promise and that he needed to acknowledge that, repent of it, and stop keeping a bad promise because in keeping a bad promise he was following through with more error. Breaking his bad promise, in this case, was the right and necessary thing to do. For him, repentance involved admitting that his promise was wrong and that dealing with his sin meant breaking his promise.
Loyalty is an admirable quality when you are loyal to what is right. But loyalty to what is wrong is wrong and only perpetuates what is wrong.
Every time I read through Jeremiah; I feel for him since he seemed to be in an impossible situation. His country (Judah) and people were under attack from the Babylonians. Humanly speaking, in order to have any chance at all of surviving, Judah had to act as one and come together in unity. Jeremiah, like all the other prophets, was expected to tow the party line and tell the nation things that would encourage them to sacrifice for the cause. But the problem was, God had brought the Babylonians to Judah as an instrument of his judgment because they had continued in their egregious and unrepentant sins. God told Jeremiah to tell the people that if they wanted to survive, they needed to leave Jerusalem and surrender to the Babylonians.
Jeremiah loved his nation, his people, and his city. If he told the people to surrender to the Babylonians, he would be accused of being a disloyal traitor of the highest order and would be hated, scorned, and likely killed. What is more important; truth or loyalty? Jeremiah could not speak the truth and be perceived as being loyal. What most did not understand was that in speaking the truth, Jeremiah was actually being loyal because he was telling his people what they needed to hear even if it was something that they did not want to hear. Godly loyalty is built on the foundation of truth. God calls us to be loyal to what is right and therefore, we are to be disloyal to what is wrong.
It has been over 2,600 years since Jeremiah lived. We still read his messages, sermons, and prayers because he chose what was right in spite of being labeled as a traitor. Many other “prophets” said what the audience demanded and betrayed the very ones they were supposed to help. Not much has changed since then. The culture demands that we reshape our message and say things that they approve. If we resist and plant our flag on the hill of truth, we can be accused of being disloyal to country and political affiliation. Attempts to explain God’s Word brings charges of hate speech from the left and being a traitor or propagandist from the right.
2,000 years from now, may it be said that we were loyal to God and to what is true and served our time as a lighthouse and not an echo chamber.
Grace and peace,
Sunday’s text: 1 Samuel 25:18-35