28 January 2013

Loyalty... the Forgotten Virtue

In 1947 Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson both played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and they were great friends. Jackie Robinson was the first African American baseball player to break the race barrier. This was such a radical move for that day that some of his own teammates even turned against him. There were also many fans that responded to his presence in baseball with death threats.

Once, during a game in Cincinnati, while Jackie Robinson was playing second base, the crowd started throwing stuff, booing, and shouting horrible things. Short Stop Pee Wee Reese, a white player, took his glove, threw it down in the dirt, walked over to the Jackie, looked up at the booing crowd, and put his arm around his friend. The crowd fell completely silent.

Robinson later shared that that one simple act did more than save his career, but probably saved him in more ways than we could have imagined. Pee Wee Reese’s gesture was such a special moment in history, a statue capturing the two men commemorates this act of loyalty between friends.

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? Proverbs 20:6

King David had a son, Absalom; it was his third son. His son committed a horrible crime; he murdered a man and went on the run for his life. He was very afraid, even though David was faithful to him.

About three years later, Absalom returned with a big army to overthrow his own father's throne. David had been faithful to him, and yet he was being disloyal to his own father. So now King David was on the run trying to save his own life.

There was a warrior by the name of Ittai. Ittai was basically a mercenary; a hired guy who was the commander of 600 men.  Ittai, though he had no real skin in this game, volunteered to fight on behalf of David.

2 Samuel 15:19-21  The king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you. May the Lord show you kindness and faithfulness.” But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”

Not only did Ittai proclaim loyalty, but he proved it as he led his 600 men into battle and fought so faithfully that later David elevated him to be in charge of about a third of his troops.

When asked, most men will say of all virtues, the one that is most forgotten in today’s society is loyalty. If we conducted a survey, most would say disloyalty is a very significant problem. The same people that claim disloyalty is an issue most likely consider themselves to be very loyal.

But we should remember that disloyalty is very difficult to see in the mirror.

Today, we could easily find the mindset: “I'll be loyal to you, but if I'm ever not, it's because you deserved it…you pushed me beyond my limits. However, if you're not loyal to ME, then disloyalty is now actually a big problem.”

All disloyalty is born out of a divided heart.

God created us to love and to have an intimate, ongoing fellowship with us.  He was so loyal to us, that while we were still sinners -while we were being disloyal to Him- He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins.

Even when we are faithless, disloyal, God, in turn, remains faithful, loyal, to us.

“What does God want from me?” you may ask. God asks for all of our hearts.

Jesus said, "love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all your mind and all of your soul, and all of your strength.”

It would have been easier for Ittai to have just left David to fight his own battle instead of risking the lives of himself and his men.

It would have been easier for Pee Wee to have let the crowd have their way with his friend Jackie and mind his own business.

But true loyalty is proven, not proclaimed.

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