Does God Have Our Ultimate Loyalty?

          Loyalty is the quality of standing firm in one’s devotion or allegiance to someone or something. Loyalty comes from the heart, not from a feeling of obligation or from a legal contract.

          On one occasion, a lawyer asked Jesus, “Which is the great commandment in the law?”

          Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).

          Simply put, love God with all you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself. 

          God demands our ultimate loyalty. He’s a jealous God who tolerates no rivals.

          In their study, Fresh Encounter, Henry Blackaby and Claude King listed several areas that could become idols if we’re not careful, then raised some penetrating questions about whether God has our ultimate loyalty.

          Do we have substitutes for God? Does anything or anyone from the world receive more attention and devotion than God receives? Does our devotion to a hobby, entertainment, a leisure activity, a sport, a civic club or even church undermine our ultimate loyalty to God Himself? That’s a tough question to consider right now at the beginning of the college football season, isn’t it?

          David Burnham played football for Wheaton College and then was drafted by the Washington Redskins. Instead of pursuing the NFL, he was called into the ministry and became a spiritual coach to athletes.

          He shared, “The football was my god. And one day in a championship game, I was carrying the ball into the line and was hit so hard that I was knocked unconscious. They had to carry me off the field and to an ambulance. I came to while they were loading me into the ambulance behind the stadium. And the first thing I heard was the crowd roaring for another ball carrier. My god was in another man’s arms, and the crowd was on to other heroes.” (MacDonald, Gordon, The Life God Blesses, 30).

          Football is important, but are we more passionate about our favorite football team than we are about God? Loving God more than anything else is a willful decision that we have to make every day. Will I love God today more than (fill in the blank)? Love is the basis for loyalty.

          Then Jesus addressed loving our neighbor. J. J. Watt, a defensive end for the Houston Texans, received the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award three times in his first five seasons. The Pro Bowler has been outstanding on the field, but what he’s done off the field has made the greatest impact. This time last year, his city, Houston, was devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

          On Aug. 27, 2017, he posted: “I want to start a fundraiser. Because I know that these recovery efforts are going to be massive. I know that there’s going to be a whole bunch of people that we need to help to get back on their feet. Whatever you can donate, please donate to help these people out.”

          His youcaring.com goal was $200K. He donated $100,000 himself. As of August 27, $41.6 million has been given. More than 600 homes have been cleaned up and rebuilt. More than 26,000 meals have been distributed to families, and more than 10,000 patients have received medication. (https://www.denisonforum.org/columns/daily-article/j-j-watt-continues-change-houston/, also http://www.fox7austin.com/news/texas/jj-watt-s-hurricane-harvey-effort-raises-416m).

          Loving God results in loving others because we love whom God loves. Ascribing allegiance to God results in obeying His commands, and He commands us to love Him and love others.

          How are you loving your neighbor as yourself? How are you serving others? Is your life all about you? Or is it about loving God and loving others?

          Maybe you don’t have the platform or the income that J. J. Watts has, but God has given you a platform. God has given you influence. How will you use your influence to better the lives of others? To help others?

          Do you think your too small to make an impact? Someone suggested, “Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.”

          Does God have our ultimate loyalty? How does that loyalty show in our lives?

Dr. David Chancey