How would you define loyalty? All of the dictionary definitions have to do with faithfulness. It’s almost implied that there is a blindness (at worst), or a dogged persistence (at best), to remain loyal to a person or to an idea. The thinking goes, “If I’m loyal to someone, like it or not, I become their Yes-man.”
But I think…
Loyalty is not telling people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.
For an example, take the prophet Nathan in the Bible. We don’t know how old he is when he steps on the scene, or even where he came from. There isn’t a clue as to his tribal ancestry or even his father’s name.
King David wanted to build a temple for the ark of the covenant, and he asked Nathan about this. Nathan immediately said, “Yes!” (kinda reinforces that idea of loyalty = Yes-man, doesn’t it?) But wait! That night, God speaks to Nathan and says, “Tell David he’s not the one to build the temple for Me.” So Nathan returns to David and loyally tells him no.
Later on, David steals another man’s wife and contrives a plan to have that man murdered on the battlefield. David thinks he’s gotten away with it until Nathan, the loyal friend, shows up to confront David with his sin. Nathan didn’t want to see David fail, but he wanted to give him a chance to confess and repent.
Near the end of David’s life, one of David’s sons, Adonijah, wanted to take the throne for himself. Many of the officials in David’s palace jumped on the bandwagon, but loyal Nathan did not. In fact, Nathan even got word to the King about Adonijah’s plans. As a result, David asked Nathan to anoint Solomon as king.
During David’s life, Nathan wrote David’s biography. If Nathan was just a mindless Yes-man, he could have easily left out the messy parts of David’s life. But the loyal friend wanted to show future readers that we all mess up, but God forgives and restores us when we repent.
Nathan’s name means the gift God gave or a giver. Both meanings fit this loyal man.
David was so blessed by Nathan’s loyalty that he named one of his sons after the prophet.
Loyal friends give their friends the gift of life. They don’t let friends go down a destructive path. They don’t join with others when they attack. They remain constant, always-there, friends.
What a blessing to be called a loyal friend! And what an even greater blessing to have “Nathans” in our own lives!