"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Monday, March 14, 2011

LOYALTY: Proven not Proclaimed

Loyalty: the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.

Man's most "loyal" friend...
"Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?"
-Proverbs 20:6

As we continued yesterday our sermon series entitled "I Need a Hero" at Cypress Wesleyan Church we carried on in our journey to rediscover virtues that have all but been lost and forgotten. Last week as we focused on heros from days gone by we grew in our knowledge of the virtue we call honor. Today we expanded our list of forgotten virtues to include loyalty

As we listened to the sermon yesterday morning we were reminded that all superheroes had sidekicks and companions that displayed superhero like loyalty to them.

Alfred the Butler
Batman had Alfred the butler and Robin, Superman had Jimmy Olsen and Krypto and the Green Hornet had Kato to name just a few. In each instance we recognize how beautiful and admirable true loyalty really is. And while most of believe this virtue to be all but extinct in the world today we all committed to the belief that in some way we are loyal people ourselves.

The easy observation to be made is to report that the math doesn't add up, but what we really need to look at is the anatomy of loyalty not necessarily the math. 


Samuel Goldwyn stated; "I'll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty." and Ernie Banks, the once great shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, said, "I learned from Mr. Wrigley, early in my career, that loyalty wins and it creates friendships. I saw it work for him in his business." Loyalty is as rare as it is important. When we see loyalty played out in a company, on a team and in a family it gets our attention.

True loyalty is always proven in life, not simply proclaimed and it's usually born out of the most trying and difficult of circumstances.

There are many great examples of loyalty we all can attest to in every realm of life, but one of the greatest examples of loyalty, if not greatest of all time, occurred in the field of sports. In the spring of 1947 the Brooklyn Dodgers traveled to Cincinnati for its first road trip to play the Reds and during the pregame warm ups  the crowd in Cincinnati verbally hurled viscous insults towards one man.

That man was Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson & Pee Wee Reese after Game 1 in the 1952 World Series.
During the awful display of humanity, and while the crowd shouted unspeakable words, a man showed his compassion, his kindness and threw down his glove, leaving his position at shortstop, and went over and put his arm around Jackie to show his support; to show his loyalty. 

That man was Pee Wee Reese.

Pee Wee had been on the Dodgers since 1940. He was a ten time All-Star and a 2 time World Champion (1955, 1959). In a word he was a leader. And like most professional athletes, and leaders, of his era he served in the military. Pee Wee Reese served in the Navy and while doing so he missed three years of professional baseball. Reese in past years has downplayed the significance of his loyal act on that fateful day in Cincinnati. Pee Wee often stated that the only problem I had with playing with Jackie was that I was worried I was going to lose my starting spot to him at shortstop. 

Thankfully for Pee Wee and the Dodgers they decided to play Jackie at second base.

Pee Wee was a man that didn't have any sympathy for people that were racially prejudice and insensitive because of the fact that his Dad showed him a tree where a lynching had taken place when he was a young boy... a image that Pee Wee Resse said he will never forget.

Brooklyn Dodgers: September 21, 1953

Though Mr. Reese was modest concerning the impact his actions had on that day Jackie Robinson had a much different point of view. Jackie had mentioned on more than a few occasions that it was that single act loyalty that salvaged his career and in some ways salvaged, and saved, his life. Loyalty has that kind of impact; an impact that is deeper than the human eye can see. 

The impact of loyalty has the potential to change a person's life. 

On November 1, 2005 the gesture of Pee Wee engaged in a conversation with his arm around Jackie, a gesture that silenced the crowd, was depicted in the form of a bronze sculpture by William Behrends and was placed at KeySpan Park, home of the New York Mets minor league affiliate team the Brooklyn Cyclones, in Brooklyn, New York.

Reese & Robinson bronze statue.
(Artist: William Behrends)

As I mentioned, loyalty is something we all want to receive and give while we are here on earth. And though our intentions are good we often fail in this area. In the book of Matthew Peter declares his loyalty to Jesus only to fail that very same day his declaration was made.  

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same." 
-Matthew 26:33-35

Peter had the strongest desire and belief that he would never betray Jesus. He was a committed believer that firmly believed that he would always be loyal, but in the end we all know that Peter failed to be loyal to Jesus.

If we are honest many of us are like Peter.

 The Scales of Justice
(Loyalty + Belief & Commitment)

In the story of David & Absalom in 2 Samuel 15 we see what loyalty directed in the right path looks like:

 "But Ittai replied to the king, "As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.
 -2 Samuel 15:21

As you read the entire story you will soon see that Ittai fought in a major battle and was put in charge of 1/3 of the King's army because of his loyalty to the King.

Loyalty truly has its rewards.

The key for everyone concerned is to increase our understanding, and expand our knowledge base, when it comes to the virtue of loyalty that many of us so dearly want to embody. In order for the scales to be in balance we need to have loyalty on one side and belief & commitment on the other side. When belief and commitment waver so will our commitment. Loyalty will always be in direct proportion to our belief and commitment to someone or something.  

In the end we are all loyal to something. 

When loyalty is at best in our lives we are loyal to our spouse, family, employer and God. When loyalty is at its worst in our lives we are loyal to our addictions, selfish behavior and ultimately to our insatiable desire to satisfy the flesh. 

The issue that needs resolution and the question that must be asked is "to who and what are we loyal?"

Cassius Clay listens to his loyal longtime trainer Angelo Dundee. (2.1.1964)  

Colossians 3:23-24 states: 

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." 

The direction is pretty clear. God wants us to serve him with our complete heart, mind and soul. We are to be loyal to him and his precepts first and foremost.

I can personally attest to that this will be the toughest thing you try to accomplish in your time on earth. There will be constant roadblock, obstacles and hindrances in making God first in our life on a daily basis. The truth of the matter is that disloyalty is always born out of a divided heart.

The constant challenge for me will always be doing the right thing versus doing my thing.

The struggle will be constant, but that doesn't mean it has to be final or fatal. The great news is that there is no sin in the struggle and that God will, thankfully, be with us each step we take if we are willing to invite him into our life. When we are loyal to God freedom is ours.

The choice is ours. 

Always remember that God has been loyal to us to the point of death. He loves us and he is loyal to us if we choose him over all else.

James 4: 8-10 states: 

"Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." 

As we collectively reflect on that verse let us be mindful of one way we can move closer to God this week; how we can become more loyal.

Just one thing.

And finally let's continue to reflect and resolve in our heart how we could display a greater sign of loyalty to someone in our life.

Ask yourself the question, "Who would I throw my glove down for?"

"Wherever there is a grain of loyalty there is a glimpse of freedom."
-Algernon Charles Swinburne

sbb  14.3.2011
A Friend  .  The Winans


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