Loyal Or Devoted?

My brain has been playing it on a loop, like a constant reminder. It’s grabbed hold of me and won’t let me go. One word. Devoted. I’ve been stuck thinking about that one word from a recent book I read, Francis Chan’s ​Letters To The Church​. That isn’t even the central theme of the book, but it’s caught my attention for weeks.

In the New Testament, we see this passage, describing the early church in Jerusalem, shortly after Pentecost.

Acts 2:42-47​ – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I’m very familiar with this verse, and perhaps you were like me, you may have glossed over it. Did you see it? Right there, up front, 2nd word in. Devoted.

The early church ​devoted​ themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and to prayer. What does it mean to be devoted?

As I was thinking about devotion, I considered the word loyalty. It’s a good word and describes some worthy things: a loyal husband or wife, a loyal follower, a loyal friend. I would consider myself all of the above, a loyal husband, follower, and friend. Would you?

Let’s define it. Loyalty means “faithfulness to commitments or obligations.” That seems…. minimal. I only have to do what I’ve committed to do or obligated to do. Then, I can be considered loyal. As I think of it, I have been very loyal…. only doing what’s required.

On the other hand, let’s look at devotion. It means, “profound dedication; consecration; vowed, dedicated” and to “give all or a large part of one’s time or resources to”. And going a bit farther, consecrate means, “to make or declare sacred; dedicate formally to divine purpose.”

That seems so much more than loyal. It’s not just doing what is obligated, but rather being consecrated (setting yourself apart) with profound dedication.

Consider another scenario. Would you say you are loyal to your boss? Do you come in on time, do your assigned work, and fulfill the other obligations of your job? If you do, I think we can agree you are loyal to your boss.

Now, would you say you are devoted to your boss? Probably not. Have you set yourself apart and profoundly dedicated yourself to him? Probably not. That’s usually not the kind of relationship where devotion comes into play. But, how about your spouse? Are you devoted to your spouse. I would hope so!
Do you see the difference? Loyal and devoted almost seem synonymous but the more I think about devotion, it seems they are not even close. Devotion is so much more!

So, the early church devoted themselves to several things: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.

Are you devoted to the apostles’ teaching?

Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

And 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”

Have you dedicated yourself to living your life as a disciple of God’s Word? Have you come under its authority in your life? Do you allow it to teach, correct, and rebuke you?

Are you devoted to prayer? There is a serious lack of dedicated prayer in my life. I’ve been convicted about it for weeks as I’ve thought about devotion. What about you?

Are you devoted to the breaking of bread. I believe the scripture is referring to communion in this passage. The early church devoted themselves to it. Has it become a habit, something you are loyal to do when it’s offered at church?

How about fellowship? Are you devoted to fellowship? Do you make a serious, profoundly dedicated effort to live in community with other believers of Christ? Perhaps, like me, sometimes you are just loyal, only doing your commitments and obligations. The Bible is filled with many, many passages about how we are the Body of Christ, fitted together, and created for community. We are born for fellowship, with God and each other. Are you devoted?

In all these areas and so many more, I must admit I have often lived as a just a loyal follower of Christ. A loyal follower sounds so minimal now that I think about it. He’s asked me for my life. He asked for devotion.

Perhaps you’re like me and feeling some conviction. Take a moment, repent, and devote yourself to the Lord. Lord, forgive me. I repent for not giving my all to you. I don’t want to be loyal only. Lord, I devote myself to you. Help me with my devotion.

Will you devote yourself to the Lord?

Jeff Hughes
Connect Group Ministry Leader

NCWC

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