“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;” – Psalms 1:1.
We love our ability to put people in boxes. And that process usually starts with labeling someone. We put labels on people all the time. And we as Christians are not exempt from building boxes with labels to put people in. A man loses his job and and we put him in a box and label him “lazy” or “incompetent” or “unproductive” or “dishonest”, etc. And because of the label, we are off the hook to do the hard and uncomfortable work of getting to know and understand that person. Or loving them.
The question is why do we label people? What compels us to define ourselves and others by certain strengths or perceived weaknesses or flaws? And what motivates us to accept and then adopt the labels assigned to us? When we believe the labels, we more quickly give into temptation. “I’ve always been bad at relationships. It’s just who I am. I might as well stop trying.” Or, “I’ve always been impatient. I can’t help it. I’m always going to be this way so I might as well learn to live with it.”
But Jesus Christ is in the business of cutting boxes and removing labels and loving people for exactly who they are. The Biblical reality is that we are not our labels. W.C. Fields said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
What Paul is saying is this: when we are crucified with Christ our old, sinful self has been killed. It was crucified with Christ and died. That means that all the labels – deserved or underserved – with our old self also died. As we have talked about on several occasions, Paul was a violent man, but the “violent” label is gone. There is only one label that mattered to Paul: “Christ In Me”.
The same is true for us. We are not ultimately defined by our struggles, but by our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our old self, with all its labels is dead and buried. Those old labels don’t apply to us anymore. That does not mean we won’t struggle with the same temptations. It simply means they don’t define us any more.
We are not our labels. We are Christ’s.
- What comes to mind when we talk about being labeled? How have you labeled people? How have people labeled you? How have those labels effected you?
- In your mind is labeling someone the same as judging them? Why or why not?
- How has God labeled you? Blessed, chosen, loved, redeemed?
- What steps can we take this week to remove the labeling process from our lives?