In my youthful years, I had a cousin who once said, “I only want beautiful girls. I do not care if they act like the devil, but they have to be beautiful.” In the process of making friends, or courting, or seeking relationships, some of us are that trivial. Many people in that process look for all the wrong character attributes. They want beauty, wealth, prestige, articulate, ravishing, sexy, toned, and resourceful friends or spouses. But the question is how do those qualities hold up in a test? I think loyalty is a more enduring trait than all of those: he that endures to the end shall be saved.
Words associated with loyalty: Faithfulness, commitment, honesty, perseverance, tenacity, and en-durance.
Loyalty and Betrayal
Here is a story about loyalty and betrayal: Eustace my uncle was married to his wife Madre for 56 years, until his death. She was light in complexion, and he was darker. The result of that colourism brought disdain for Eustace from Madre’s parents and family. They did not like him. Like the story of Jacob in the Bible, he had to work like a slave for the family to even let him get to be around her: chop wood, plow land, plant and till soil. Grudgingly, they agreed for the two to get married.
Just after that, Madre fell ill with a strange disease. She was hospitalized. Within days she was in a co-ma-like state. She could not eat on her own or do any of the normal things that a person would do for themselves. So, Eustace had to feed, bathe, brush her teeth and clean all the excrement that comes out of the human body. That went on for nine months.
By then, her family was resigned to her death. The doctors did not visit or check on her anymore. Her dead-like body laid in a hospital ward with 15 other patients. And, those other people could not wait for them to pronounce her death and be carried out of their space, because her stench filled the room all day and all night.
But Eustace was undaunted. Every day he came in and tried to feed her. He pried open her teeth with a fork and tried and get her to eat. One could cut the tension in the room with a knife. People were gossiping beneath their breath, but he remained steadfast. Fifteen months later, she miraculously re-covered and was nursed back to health. That is a story of loyalty.
Unfortunately, fifty-four years later, Madre could not stand Eustace so much that she slept in a differ-ent bedroom – disloyalty. When he fell sick to the point of death, her constant call was “why isn’t he dead already” – betrayal at its worst.
The interesting timing of betrayal
Why do the people who you lift the highest drop you the hardest?
Why do the people closest to you hurt you the most?
Why do people praise you in good times, but curse you in bad times?
What is most noteworthy is that betrayal comes at a time when you are at your worst. Like Jesus: im-agine one Sunday you got married or graduated with your master’s degree, and the entire neighbor-hood came to celebrate with you. Everyone brought gifts. The streets were lined with people who came to see you; with ribbons that spelled your name. That was Palm Sunday.
On Tuesday, you are celebrating with your closest friends in a posh restaurant. On Wednesday, they are vowing to defend and support you even to the point of death. But by Thursday, they deny ever knowing you. And the neighborhood who reveled in your success is now signing an affidavit for your death. You became king and criminal in the same week!
Like the following scripture reveals, even best of friends will love you in good times, but disappear when times get tough: But Peter told him, “Even if everyone else turns against you, I certainly won’t!” Jesus told him, “I tell you with certainty, before a rooster crow this very night, you will deny me three times.” Peter told him, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the disciples said the same thing (Matthew 26:33-35).
The great denial
John 18: 15 says, Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus [during his trial]. Because this [other] disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, (verse 16) but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. (Verse 17) “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.”
What makes a person who just had lunch with you deny ever knowing you?
Or what makes a spouse that you spent 25 years loving, take you to court in divorce and say the most earth-scorching things about you?
Often, the people you help the most are the ones who betray you in the most egregious ways. I once lent my car to a friend because his walk home was much longer than mine. He drove while I walked home. The next day, instead of thankfulness, he told me how horribly my car drove. What in human DNA drives the idea of denial and betrayal? I think the better question however is what does one look for in a relationship that guarantees its endurance? I say that thing is loyalty!
Proverbs 17: 17, A friend loves at all times… Loyalty is about enduring love and faithfulness in all situa-tions. 1John 3:18, Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. Faithfulness is love that goes beyond words with action.
In all the people who cross Jesus’ path there were two that demonstrated the highest standards of loyalty: Mary and Martha. The people who showed the highest level of loyalty to Jesus were not his disciples. The bible often described John as the disciple that Jesus loved, but he did not show more commitment to our saviour than those two women.
These women woke up early in the morning to show loyalty to a man they thought was dead. You see, anybody could be loyal to you when you are walking on the water, healing the sick, restoring eyesight or raising people from the dead. But now he is dead. And Thomas is on the run, Peter is nowhere to be found, James and John are hiding, Philip is AWOL, Mark is missing in action and Judas has hung himself. But these women …, we know that Mary’s character was questionable (Jakes).
These women woke up early in the morning before the break of day, and came down to the tomb, because even in death, they wanted to protect him. They came to ensure that even the smell of his body was protected. They brought sweet-smelling spices to pacify his decay.
Here is the thing: You don’t really love me until you understand that sometimes you have to cover my smell. Again, the ‘L-word’ that overcomes betrayal is Loyalty. Loyalty loves at all times and shows up in every action. So, how do I identify loyalty in potential relationships? Those are people who love you in times when they should dislike you; people who care when it hurts to care, people who walk love more than talk love – Just as Jesus did.