Posts Tagged ‘loyalty’

loyaltyIn our daily staff devotional at the Let’s Start Talking office a few days ago, the Psalm was read from a more modern version and, as is often the case, the new words for the ancient expressions caught me off guard.

Specifically, this particular Psalm praised the loyalty of God.  I don’t think this was the chapter but Psalm 100:5 would be representative of the word usage that tripped me up:  “The Lord is good. His love is forever, and his loyalty goes on and on” (NCV).

More familiar versions of this verse use faithfulness or steadfast love.  Is loyalty the same as faithfulness?  That’s what has been puzzling me!

From what I have read, the root idea, at least the initial idea behind loyalty would have to do with the Latin word lex, meaning law.   If you were loyal, you kept the law.  That basic idea grew into a slightly bigger idea relating to the power behind the law.  If you kept the law of the king or your feudal lord or whoever your master was, then you were loyal.

This understanding of loyalty expanded to include the master of your house—probably the husband, also the Father—and so the concept of loyalty to the family and/or clan emerged.

One of the primary uses of the word loyalty in modern times, I would argue, is in association with nationalism and patriotism.  Another synonym might be allegiance.

The dissonance for me was to use the word loyalty in place of faithfulness when talking about God’s relationship to His people.  Yes, the words point in the same direction; in fact, the word faithful is often used in dictionaries to help define the idea of loyalty. Nevertheless, . . . .something feels wrong!

Perhaps my discomfort grows from using the word about God! 

Loyalty is something that is earned, while God is faithful because He is God, not because we have earned His faithfulness.

Loyalties are generally either deserved or demanded.  Who could demand God’s faithfulness?  Who could deserve God’s faithfulness?

Loyalties may shift with circumstances; you may be loyal to the country of your birth, but change your citizenship and swear loyalty to another country for reasons of your own choosing. God is not whimsical or capricious; God is faithful.

Loyalty can have degrees. I am loyal to my country, but only to the point that it does not conflict with greater loyalties, such as God and family.  God, on the other hand, is absolutely faithful. His faithfulness will never be superseded by a greater Good or a greater Love.

Semantical arguments always seem a bit petty; however, words not only express our thoughts, but our choice of words can also change our thinking!  I would not feud over the word loyalty, but I do think it is a smaller word and that it makes God smaller—and that I don’t like.

I like the words the Spirit wrote in Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”    


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