I walked into my favorite coffee shop the other day and placed my order, “A cappuccino with two raw sugars and a chocolate milk and pastry for my daughter, please.”
“Let me heat that up for you”, the barista said.
“No thanks! We like it better not warmed up. We’re weird, I know.”
The next customer in line behind me placed her order, “A nonfat no whip latte with an extra cup. I’m easy”.
As I stood there waiting for my cup of goodness, my brain clicked into overdrive. I was processing what I had said and what the lady behind me had said to the barista. We’d both labeled ourselves. Me, “we’re weird”, she, “I’m easy”. Neither necessarily bad labels or really of much importance in the grand scheme of things, but it did stick with me the rest of the day and I began thinking about it on a broader scale.
We do this a lot. Others label us. We label ourselves.
I’m a loner.
I’m a mom.
I’m a loser.
I’m not smart.
We’re a big family.
We’re a small family.
I’m a stay at home dad.
I’m a working mom.
We go to a mega church.
We only sing hymns.
I’m blue collar.
I drive a minivan.
I have tattoos.
Don’t get me wrong, I love labels. On my files. On my photos. On jars in my cabinet.
But labels separate. Labels put things into categories and keep people apart.
I’ve felt this first hand my entire growing up years. I was home schooled.
When my parents made this decision 30 years ago, it wasn’t a popular choice. And trust me when I say this comes with a label. A BIG label. Most of the time it was a label I didn’t mind. It was even something I was proud of. But there were also times when it was hard. Because of this particular label people assumed things. About me. About my siblings. About our family.
Some labels build our confidence.
But a lot of labels tear us down.
Labels build walls between people.
Love tears down those walls.
When we put labels on others we instantly separate ourselves from them.
I think a “label” is often just us judging in a covert way.
James 4:11 My brothers and sisters, don’t speak against one another. Anyone who speaks against another believer speaks against the law. And anyone who judges another believer judges the law. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it. Instead, you are acting as if you were its judge.
So let’s stop putting labels on…cough cough, judging….people and instead let love tear down the walls the labels have built up.
And since we’re on the topic of labels let’s talk about the ones we put on ourselves.
Because most of the time when we label ourselves, we limit ourselves.
Let me repeat that…When we label ourselves we limit ourselves.
Maybe it’s a label someone else has put on us, and we’ve accepted it as truth.
Or maybe it’s a label, otherwise known as a lie from Satan, that we’ve stuck on ourselves and allowed it to define who we are.
God has already told us that through Him we are more than conquerors.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Instead of allowing ourselves to be defined by the labels that others have put on us or that we’ve put on ourselves, let’s stick on the labels that God has given us. They’re better than any label I’ve ever given myself.
Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy
Romans 8:2 I am free from the law of sin and death
Galatians 3:26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for His friends.
Ephesians 1:4 I am holy and without blame before Him in love
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ Jesus
Are you getting the picture? This is just a small taste of who God says you are. The labels God has given you are how He sees you.
When we label ourselves, we limit ourselves, because He is God and we are not.
And to top it all off….
1 John 4:18 Instead, perfect love drives fear away
Fear causes us to label ourselves and then we limit ourselves…But
Love drives away our fear. Love tears down walls that labels have put up.
So instead of labeling each other, let’s love each other.
And instead of labeling ourselves, let’s allow God’s labels to define us.
Let’s not worry about conforming to what the world says, but being transformed daily by our God who loves us.