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Session 29

How to choose between competing loyalties

Read: 1 Samuel 20

The problem with loyalty is everyone has their own definition of it. So, at some point we will find ourselves in that painful position where being loyal to one person makes us feel like a betrayer to another.

1 Samuel 20 helps relieve that burden and gives us the guideline to use when we have to choose.

Simply put, to be loyal is to honor our commitment even if it is more beneficial for us to break it. An honorable person "keeps his oath even when it hurts" (Psalm 15:4).

When we feel trapped by competing loyalties, the only way to make the right choice is to remember that our primary loyalty is to God.

Unfortunately, many understand loyalty to be an unwavering commitment to someone's personal agenda. When loyalty is defined in this way, the guidelines vary, and confusion and strife are sure to emerge.

King Saul's misperception of loyalty creates a horrible situation for his son Jonathan. The heir to Saul's throne, Jonathan swears an oath of protection to his friend David. Unfortunately, Saul feels threatened by David and is enraged that Jonathan will not help him find and kill David. Jonathan is faced with navigating the painful waters of competing loyalties.

Jonathan deeply loves both his father and David, but he knows his primary loyalty is to God. He can't assist his father in a personal vendetta motivated by insecurity and pride. David did nothing deserving of death. The choice is clear.

When we feel trapped by competing loyalties, the only way to make the right choice is to remember that our primary loyalty is to God, and that our hearts are to be "fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by His decrees and obey His commands" (1 Kings 8:61).

Reflect:

  • Do you feel trapped in a competing loyalty situation? Ask yourself what Jesus would want you to do.
  • Assess your own definition of loyalty. Do you have unrealistic expectations of your friends?

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