“Signing up for the Loyalty Program”

“Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people.” —Proverbs 3:3-4

Many of the companies I do business with, such as on-line retailers, airlines, and hotel chains, have “loyalty programs.” They offer “rewards” to customers who are loyal to their brand.

This use of “loyalty” is shifting the very meaning of the word into a commodity, something that can be bought and sold. This is just one example of how our consumer society tends to see all transactions as commodities.

Another arena in our common life where the idea of loyalty has been corrupted is in politics, where political loyalty is also viewed as a commodity, not so much to be bought and sold (although sometimes it is), but as the currency for a quid pro quo, which is Latin for mutual backscratching. Some politicians even require complete loyalty while offering none in return.

But true loyalty is interpersonal. It is a relationship. It is not the loyalty to a brand, a political party, or a sports team, but keeping faith and trust with another.

Loyalty is one of the attributes of God. The Hebrew word closest to loyalty is hesed , often translated into English as “loving-kindness.” It describes a faithful unbroken persistent relationship. Often in the Bible the metaphor of a faithful marriage is used to describe the kind of covenant loyalty that God has for Israel.

And God’s loyalty is the model for our own keeping faith with those we love. If the worlds of commerce, politics and sports have debased the notion of loyalty, true loyalty remains a beautiful thing, and much to be cherished.

Prayer: Keep us ever loyal, Eternal One, to each other and to you.

(This is my United Church of Christ Daily Devotion for January 4, 2018. To see the original go here. To subscribe to the UCC Daily Devotional and receive it every day by e-mail go here.)

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