The Power of Loyalty – Part 1

Speaker: Scott Jarrett | Apr 24, 2022

(Mat 6:19-24)

In Matthew 6:19-24 Jesus reveals the power our discretionary and listening loyalties possess not only for determining who we truly serve (who we are loyal to as King), but also producing the salvation-essential attributes of affection (for God) and conviction (in regard to the Word of God).  Our confidence that loyalty is indeed His subject is confirmed by His conclusion (24 “serve…be devoted to” = be loyal to).

  1. Discretionary loyalties and help getting to heaven.

1.1. Jesus teaches us that the freedom we may believe we possess with regard to discretionary loyalties is not as free as we think.

1.2. (19-20) “treasures[1]” = Discretionary loyalties. Those things we commit to that are not necessary to our physical health and life or the physical health and life of those under our care (e.g., hobbies; contra., working a job).

1.3. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” = Do not fill your life (“lay up”) with discretionary loyalties that will not help you get to heaven. Why we can be confident this is what Jesus talking about: 1) His mention of what happens to these earthly treasures/commitments (“moth and rust destroy…thieves break in and steal”) = The value/benefit they provide will eventually be lost. There is no EROI. 2) Jesus’ promotion of heavenly treasures (or loyalties) in contrast to these earthly treasures (loyalties) (“but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”) = We need to make sure the person/things that occupy our discretionary time/money are those persons/things that will help us get to heaven since the value of those commitments/loyalties will not be lost in this life. There will be an EROI.

1.4. Examples of discretionary loyalties that will not help you get to heaven: 1) sports, 2) video games, 3) cars, 4) guns, 5) money (v24), 6) secular music, 7) fishing, 8) hiking, 9) secular movies/tv 10) pets, 11) our physical family.

1.5. Examples of discretionary loyalties that will help you get to heaven (lay up treasures in heaven) (i.e., that show our loyalty to Jesus – Mat 16:24-25): 1) His church/our covenant family, 2) understanding God’s Word/wisdom (Pro 1-2), 3) sharing our spiritual and financial bread (evangelism/Christian witness – Luk 16:1-13), 4) anything that glorifies God, promotes spiritual growth or advances His kingdom in the world (1Co 10:31), 5) reading theological works.

1.6. POINT NOT TO MISS: If we are not in full-time ministry, we need to make sure the majority of our discretionary loyalties are to persons/things that will help us get to heaven. Jesus’ command to “lay up” implies this is necessary to final judgment. You will go to the place your loyalties reside (in heaven or in the fire – the place where all earthly things end up).

  1. Discretionary loyalty and feelings of affection.

2.1. Many Christians admit to possessing no feelings of affection for God. Jesus teaches that our affections are often the product of loyalty.

2.2. (21) “heart” = Our affections.

2.3. Here (then) is another reason we need to be careful that our discretionary loyalties/commitments are only to those things that help us get to heaven and never those things that don’t: “(because) where your (loyalty) is, there your (affection) will be also.”

2.4. IOW: whatever you devote yourself to, you will eventually have affections for (which will further strengthen your loyalty to those things). And if those things are not helpful with regard to heaven, then you have just strengthened yourself in the wrong direction (e.g., The large number of affairs that happen between men and women who have worked closely together for a period of time. Originally, neither person had romantic intentions. However, the committed and close working environment they share causes them to have feelings of affection for one another).

2.5. The relationship between loyalty and affection being taught by Jesus is the opposite of how many people view it: loyalty to someone/something requires affection first. And if they don’t have that affection (or it is not immediately present for that person/thing), then they can’t be expected to be loyal nor should they expect such affection to come later (after they have been loyal/committed). As such, it is not their fault if they lack loyalty/devotion to God/things of God since they don’t immediately feel affection for Him or those things.

2.6. What tends to be true about those persons/things we do have immediate affections for (i.e., things that don’t require loyalty to produce affection for them) = They are the things possessing the least value (both for this life and the life to come). They represent the lowest hanging fruit the world has to offer (i.e., the fruit of instant gratification, see list in 1.4.). Hence the reason the kind of people who choose to be loyal/committed only to what they can have immediate affections for are the most unsuccessful and/or damned people of the world. Because those things which are truly worth something in this life (or for getting to the next life) require loyalty/commitment first.

2.7. Why then this kind of thinking (immediate gratification needed to be loyal) is so dangerous: Because it means those people will never be loyal/committed to using their discretionary time and money for God or the things of God. They will instead view such commitments as oppressive, loathe anything related to them, and start toying with giving up the Christian life. At the very least, they will begin living a double life (Mat 13:22).

2.8. The principle being taught by Jesus in v21 is therefore what separates those who make it to heaven and those who do not. Those who make it are those who realize loyalty/commitment is required before they will experience affection for their loyalty/commitment. This principle is also what separates the haves from the have-nots in this world (e.g., Becoming a surgeon, a Lead Cyber Threat Hunter, or a Navy Seal. All these professions require countless hours of education and difficult training that nobody likes/loves or feels good about at the time they are doing it. Experiencing regret, depression, discouragement, wanting to quit – even hate for the field of study are not uncommon during education and training. In the end however, such loyalty produces feelings of great pride and affection for their profession; e.g., Working out when you are out of shape. It isn’t until one has been loyal to the process that affection kicks in).

2.9. A good indicator therefore that you have not been loyal to God or the things of God (or have not been loyal for very long) = You are one of those people who continues to struggle with feeling any affection (“love”) for God or the things of God. BTW: loyalty/commitment > 50% of the time you are obedient to God and the majority of your discretionary time and money is given to God or the things of God (“you are either all in or not in at all.”)

2.10. POINT NOT TO MISS: Our loyalties will determine our affections (or lack thereof).

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: (Luk 16:10) = Our faithfulness/loyalty in the very little things indicates our loyalty/faithfulness to the big things. What do your current discretionary loyalties indicate about your loyalty to God? If today were Judgment Day, what would that mean for your eternal state?

 

[1] Mat 6:19-24 is filled with metonymy: the act of referring to something by the names of those things associated with it (Grk. metonymia = change of name; e.g., the crown = British monarchy; The White House = American govt; Silicon Valley = tech industry; tongue = speech (Jam 3); sleep = death (1Co 15) “the pen is mightier than the sword” = The written word is mightier than military force).