Scripture: Ruth 1:1–22; Matthew 7:33; Luke 16:13; 2 Timothy 2:3-9, 4:6–8; 1 Peter 3:15
Memory verse: 2 Timothy 2:3
"Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus."
Explain that some friendships are based on things like looks, popularity, or money. Discuss the amount of loyalty found in these friendships. Then talk about friendships based on character, personality, and values and the loyalty that is found in these friendships.
Hearing God's Word
Ask: “What do you think of when you hear the word loyalty?”
(List the students’ responses on the chalkboard. You may also want to discuss some words that mean the opposite —“betrayal, and “traitor.” People sometimes understand the meaning of an abstract word more clearly when it is compared to words that mean the opposite.)
What is Loyalty?
Loyalty is faithfulness to a person, a cause, or a duty. Loyalty is something like invisible glue that holds us to special people or things. Some glues, such as flour and water paste, work until pressure is applied. Then the glue becomes useless. Other glues will hold through pressure, yet quickly soften if held under water. Finally, some glues are available that will grip in spite of pressure, water, or chemicals. In fact, some glues almost become parts of both the things they connect.
Ask: “To what people, thing, or ideas are you attached? Why? How strongly are you attached to them: Is your loyalty like flour and water paste, craft glue, or cement? Should all loyalties be stuck with the same kind of glue?” (Allow responses to each question.)
Deciding What is Important
First we must decide what is really important to us. One person’s loyalties will not be exactly the same as another person’s loyalty. That is part of what makes us unique individuals. However, sometimes we must ask ourselves why we have chosen a priority and decide if the choice was one that would be pleasing to God.
Ruth’s Loyalty to Naomi
Ruth is a good example of loyalty. Ruth was from Moab, but she married a man from Israel. Ruth’s husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law all died. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, decided to go back to Israel to live. Ruth decided she would go with Naomi even though it meant leaving her family and her home. Naomi tried to talk Ruth out of her plan. But how did Ruth respond?
(Ask a student to read Ruth 1:16, 17.) Ruth had made up her mind. She loved Naomi and she was determined to go with her back to Israel and help her in any way she could. Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi was like cement; she stayed beside her no matter what happened.
Ruth’s choice was a good one. She married a kind Israelite man named Boaz. Her great-grandson David became king of Israel. Many years later, her family tree would include the name Jesus. If she had stayed in Moab, she would have missed this wonderful honour.
The Bible illustrates loyalty in another way in 2 Timothy 2:3, 4. Part of this is our memory verse. (Repeat the verse with the students)
Paul compares a Christian to a soldier—a good soldier who is loyal to his country, to his fellow soldiers, and to his own calling. This task is not always easy. That is why Paul uses the word “hardship” (NIV). But really important things in life do not come easily. There is always work involved in doing something special. Satan will try to get us to exchange our loyalties for things that are not permanent. But God will help us to be loyal to the things that are important.
Determining Our Priorities
After we decide to whom and to what we will be loyal, we must then determine our priorities. The word priority means “order of importance.” Priorities can make a big difference in the way we live. Sometimes we are forced to decide between two things or people or goals.
Take a few minutes to think about your priorities. The Bible tells us God should be first before everything else. (Ask a student to read Matthew 6:33.)
Do loyalties ever change in order of importance? Of course they do. When you were very small you probably had a favourite toy that you wanted with you all the time. Now the toy has been replaced by other things. As we grow older our interests and attitudes change about certain things. But some things such as our love for God should never change. That commitment should remain first all the time.
Declaring Our Loyalties
Once we have decided on our loyalties, we need to declare ourselves and take our stand for what we have chosen. There are many ways of declaring loyalty. After a person receives salvation, he should be baptized in water. This is a way of showing the world that he now wants to follow Jesus. We show our loyalty to our country by saying a pledge or standing at attention when the flag is raised. We show loyalty to a team by wearing uniforms or displaying banners. A man and woman who have chosen to be loyal to one each other show that loyalty by saying wedding vows.
Ask: “What declares our loyalty to our family members and friends? (Allow responses.)
Developing Our Loyalties
Loyalties are somewhat like plants; they must have attention or they will die. We must develop relationships with those to whom we give our loyalties. We must devote ourselves to them. Friendships need attention in order to grow stronger.
Ask: “How can we give attention to our friends? What must Christians do to develop their relationship and loyalty to God?” (Allow responses.)
(Assign someone to read Paul’s testimony in 2 Timothy 4:6–8.) Paul went through a lot because of his loyalty to Jesus. Many times it would have been easier to forget his commitment and be disloyal. His decision to serve Jesus caused him trouble. Paul compared it to preparing for a race or a fight. We must keep our eyes on our goal—eternal life. Our loyalty to Jesus must be so strong that nothing can change our commitment to Him.
Defending Our Loyalties
The last “D” word will usually come about in any loyal relationship. We will have to defend those people or things to which we are tied. Before we can do this, we must have strong reasons for our stand. (Ask a student to read 1 Peter 3:15.) Just as a soldier must defend his country, a Christian must take his stand for God.
Loyalty is commitment to God, our parents, our friends, and our goals. It is when problems and troubles come that the true “glue” of loyalty shows itself. Just as God’s love for us can never be dissolved, our love for Him should be of the strongest kind also. Are you a loyal follower of Jesus?
Accepting God’s Word
People sometimes are disloyal. Friends may sometimes let us down. The pain of broken loyalty resulting in divorce may be felt by some in your class. (Use this opportunity to emphasise that God will never fail us. His Word promises that He will be a loyal and faithful Friend who will always be with us. Ask if there are any who would like to accept this most loyal Person as their Saviour. Pray with each person who responds.)
Wolof Village Visit
The driver turned off the paved road and proceeded through peanut farms to a Wolof village. The buildings were constructed of cement blocks with zinc roofs, reflecting the farmers’ success. We passed an elementary school at the entrance, arriving finally at the chief’s yard near the centre of the community
The chief and one of his sons were seated in the shade of the house. They quickly shifted their attention to extending a welcome to our group. Metal chairs were placed under a large tree, and we were invited to be seated. The fellowship was excellent as we shared history about ourselves and the purpose of our visit.
The chief found it difficult to pronounce my name when introducing me to members of his family and the village elders who came to welcome us. He said, “I am going to give you a Wolof name.” He honoured me with the name of an esteemed prophet, “Maan Musa,” which means “Grandpa Moses.”
The chief’s younger son offered to give us a tour of their families’ homes and farmland. We met a lot of people, took many pictures and marvelled at this Islamic Wolof family’s receptivity of us Christians and the outside world.
In addition to the Lebou believers, an estimated 30 believers are counted among the urban and rural Wolof, making a total of 50 Christians in a people group numbering nearly 5 million. The Wolof need messengers with proven apostolic ministries to preach the good news of the Kingdom accompanied with signs and wonders.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Wolof Families
1. Messengers with families to interact with Wolof families, allowing the Wolof to become acquainted with a Christian family,
2. Fathers to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour and then lead each member of their family to faith in Jesus Christ,
3. Christians to identify needs within Wolof families and then pray for a supernatural, miraculous provision for them.
"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these...." (John 14:13).
Study 14 | Jesus is Worthy/Witnessing | africaatts.org/go-teach