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Loyalty In a Servant's Heart


By Dr. Richard Ing

July 20, 2001


We’ve been discussing servant hood and what is contained in a true servant’s heart.  In our previous newsletter, we examined the issue of obedience and how obedience is a principle of God’s kingdom, while disobedience or rebellion is a principle of Satan’s kingdom.  We learned that obedience is a character trait of every true servant’s heart, not just a doctrine.  In this writing, we will explore another characteristic of a true servant’s heart: loyalty.

In order to have a true servant’s heart, loyalty to his leaders must be buried deep inside. Loyalty in a true servant is so strong that even death or the threat of death cannot overturn it. 


In Genesis 39, Joseph was a slave in the house of Potiphar, captain of the Pharaoh’s guard.  He served so well that Potiphar made Joseph the overseer over his house.  Gen. 39:4.  When Potiphar’s wife false accused Joseph of trying to rape her, Joseph was thrown into prison.  Joseph never defended himself.  He never told Potiphar that his wife was trying to seduce him.  He never even denied the false charge.  It would have made Potiphar’s wife a liar and disgraced Potiphar.  His loyalty to his master prevented him from saying anything negative about Potiphar’s wife.  His master’s reputation was more important than Joseph’s own life.  Instead, Joseph chose prison.  He had the heart of a genuine servant - loyal and true.

In the end, God rewarded Joseph by making him second in command over all of Egypt, except for the Pharaoh.  Joseph was able to save the entire known world.


King Saul disobeyed God and God had Samuel, the prophet, anoint David as the next king.  Saul became insane and tried to kill David many times.  Saul pursued David for years in the wilderness to kill him.  But David refused to even complain, criticize, fight back or gossip about Saul. Once, Saul fell asleep in a cave where David was hiding with his men.  David’s men encouraged him to kill Saul.  They said, “God has given Saul into your hands.  Everyone knows God has made you the next king.” “No,” David said, “I will not touch the anointed of God.”  David let Saul go.  I Sa. 24:6,7.  A while later, David sneaked into Saul’s camp while everyone was asleep.  Once more, David’s men encouraged David to kill Saul.  Again, David refused.  He said, “As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.”  I Sa. 26:10.  David left his destiny up to God.  “Let God handle it, let God’s will be done,” was David’s attitude. “I will not be disloyal.”

Even though everyone knew that God had chosen David to be the next king, David remained loyal to Saul.  David had once been Saul’s armor-bearer, sworn to defend and serve the king, even with his life.  He refused to dishonor his vow.  Loyalty was more important than self-ambition to David.  In the end, God promised that there would always be a son of David on the throne.  Jer. 33:17.  Jesus Christ fulfilled that promise.  Jesus is the “offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”  Rev. 22:16.  The name of David will always be honored throughout eternity.  In the end, David became king of Israel because his heart was right before God.  Great is the reward of the loyal in heart.


Some people think that a leader needs to earn respect from his servants or people under him before they are required to give back loyalty and submission.  Not so.  Respect and loyalty comes from the position a person occupies in the kingdom of God.  You are not only respecting or expressing loyalty to the person, but to the position itself. In the U.S. military, a general’s flag is flown on his chauffeur-driven automobile for all to see.  It’s usually a gold-trimmed, red flag emblazoned with the number of stars the general has.  Whenever the general is in the car, his flag is flown.   Sometimes, the chauffeur forgets to cover the flag when the general is not in the car.  Regardless, all military personnel lower than the rank of general are required to salute the flag, whether the general is in the car or not.  Respect and loyalty is to the position, regardless of the person.  If God puts you under the authority of a pastor, the pastor doesn’t have to “earn” your respect.  Loyalty and submission are due the position.  The same is true with children.  Honor and respect toward parents come from the relationship.  Parents don’t have to earn the respect and honor of their children.  It comes with the position.  This is true no matter what kind of parent he or she is.  Lousy parents do not erase God’s command to “honor thy father and thy mother.”  If a person loves and has loyalty to someone, no one, even the person they love and are loyal to, can take it away.

Loyalty based on earned respect will diminish and even disappear when the person who is the subject of loyalty changes, is no longer viewed as the favored one, makes mistakes, or is no longer respected by people around him.  David had many followers and faithful servants when he was strong and appeared to be the next king.  When he was made king, many more joined and surrounded him.  But, when it appeared that David was about to be dethroned, many of David’s “loyal” followers left to join the opposition.  When his son, Absalom, looked like he was about to defeat David and become the next king, people left David in droves.  II Sa. 15:12. But, Absalom was destroyed and the ones that followed him were no longer welcome in David’s court.  The disloyal had their own personal agenda.

Even when David was on his death bed and it appeared that his son, Adonijah, was going to be the next king, many of David’s previously faithful and loyal people left to join Adonijah.  They were more politicians than servants.  It turned out that God chose Solomon to be the next king and many who went with Adonijah were killed or banished from the kingdom.  A few stayed loyal to David until he died.  One of them was Zadok, the junior priest.

Zadok wasn’t even the head priest.  Abiathar was.  But, Abiathar left David to go with Adonijah.  He was looking out for himself.  Zadok knew that if Adonijah was made king, he would be left out in the cold.  But Zadok only wanted to serve David until either David or Zadok died.  His loyalty was forever.  Great was Zadok’s reward in the end.  God will test until the very end.

When Solomon became king, Zadok was made head priest of the kingdom.  Later, one of Zadok’s sons became head priest and a daughter became queen of Israel, and later mother to the next king.  But the greatest reward for the “sons of Zadok” is found in heaven.  In Ezekiel 40:46 and Ezekiel 44:15, 16, God says that while the rest of Israel shall minister in God’s sanctuary in His heavenly temple, they cannot come near unto God or any of the holy things. But, the sons of Zadok are the ones who:

... shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God: they shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table and minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.  And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and ....

 The sons of Zadok, the loyal ones who served King David until the end shall forever minister unto God, be in His presence continually and keep His charge.  Their reward for loyalty to David, the anointed of God, is for ever and ever.

The “sons of Zadok” are not the lineal descendants of Zadok, but everyone who is loyal to their leader until the very end.


For David, the test of loyalty was when his king became insane with jealousy and tried to kill him many times, and especially when David had two opportunities to kill Saul and become king of Israel himself.  Years of suffering in the wilderness, running away from Saul had not changed David’s heart of loyalty.  No one would have blamed him since Samuel, the prophet, had already anointed David as next king, but David knew that God was looking into his heart.  David’s integrity refused to allow him to abandon his character and morals no matter how great the reward.

In the end times, everyone’s heart will be tested for loyalty.  In Revelation 13:15, Satan’s beast is going to require every man, woman and child to receive a mark in their right hand or forehead.  Those who refuse will be killed.  Rev. 13:15,16.  But those who take the mark will lose their salvation (if they are a Christian) and go to hell.  Rev. 14:9-11.  In that day, when you are forced to line up and declare whether you will refuse to renounce Jesus and die, or renounce Jesus, take the mark and live, the world will know how much loyalty is in your heart.  The disloyal will take the mark.  Those who count loyalty to Jesus more important than life itself will refuse the mark and face death.

Loyalty is not a casual thing with God.  It is what drove Jesus to obey the Father and die on the cross.  Jesus’ obedience to God’s will was based on His loyalty to the one He loved.  Loyalty is one of the traits God desires in His people.  How can we be conformed unto the image of Jesus without loyalty buried deep in our heart?


Like obedience, loyalty comes out of love.  When one loves, he puts all of his personal ambitions away and seeks to promote and help the one he loves with everything he has - even his life, if necessary.  Loyalty requires humility, love and submission - all character traits of Jesus Christ.  His death on the cross was the ultimate show of love, loyalty and humility. 

Loyalty is a heart matter, not just a political or social idea, and like obedience, not just a doctrine.  The loyal in heart will serve their master until their dying breath.  Those with disloyalty in their heart will go from master to master, church to church and person to person.  Their intention is to benefit themselves.  When they are discontent with their present leader, they will leave without hesitation.  They fail to understand a basic rule: Leaders reward and promote the loyal, not the disloyal.  A person may be better looking, more intelligent, have more talent and be more popular than others; but, without loyalty, he is useless to any leader.  He may turn out to be an Absalom in the end.  Such a person is dangerous.  God is looking for the loyal in heart.

This is not a writing to encourage you to obey or be loyal to me.  I really don’t care.  What I care about is that we all understand what it takes to be like Jesus Christ, the greatest servant of all time.

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