We are a society that loves our labels. Every item we buy has a label. It tells us when something expires, or what exactly went into creating that particular food (except SPAM, I don't think anyone really knows what is in it and maybe that is a good thing!) Labels are a part of life but here is a question, do we spend our time labeling others or seeking a label for ourselves? This thought has been going around in my head for some time now. Did you know that on a regular basis we are labeling others? We see someone in a shabby outfit and we tend to label them as homeless or lazy. A shiny Mercedes flies by us on the interstate and we label the driver as a person with money. We shake our heads and label the person that runs the red light as someone who has little regard for the law. We label the pretty as smart and the average as ordinary. If we were honest with ourselves we tend to slap a label on just about everyone. In a matter of minutes after we meet someone we have labeled them. They may be super talkative, extremely shy, or absolutely crazy! But labeling people can be a dangerous thing especially in the church. These labels are given to nearly everyone that attends. There are those who come faithfully, others who serve in some sort of ministry or service, and the ones who don't do anything. The problem with labels is simply the fact that we are not God, we don't know what is going on inside of someone. Maybe they are shy because they have been hurt multiple times in their life and they have drawn back into themselves for protection. Maybe there are some not involved in things at church because they have a busy schedule. Please don't get me wrong, I believe we should be attending our church faithfully and active in serving but what I am saying is that it is not our place to label someone based on the little we see. However, I must say that there are certain labels given to people that are necessary, such as those who cause discord in the church, but these are to be done with wisdom.
Labels have power to hurt, or even wound someone deeply. I remember when my mom received a label when my dad divorced her. I could feel the change in the atmosphere, some people no longer valued her opinion or felt that she was no longer as spiritual because of what had happened, even though it was not her fault. My mom never let it show just how much it hurt, but I remember that it did. It was sad to watch her go through that and there was nothing I could do to help. But that label has stayed with her all these years. I am not pointing any fingers, I am just trying to make a point, we must be ever so careful about how we see people. We all have faults, and past regrets, perhaps some are larger than others but none of us are exempt. God asks us to love one another, to lift up those who have fallen and extend grace to those in need.
There is another type of labeling that is just as bad if not a little more dangerous and that is seeking to label ourselves. Because we like labels, there comes a desire to label ourselves, but these tend to be very generous. Remember the argument the disciples had as they walked with Jesus? They wanted to know who would be the greatest, they were seeking to put a label on themselves. (Luke 22:24) Jesus told them that it was better to serve than to be great. I find it so easy to want to seek a good label for myself, to seek to be well known or well favored but that is not what God wants nor expects of me. He desires me to serve others and love Him with all of my heart, mind and soul.
Both of these labels have a dangerous effect on the people of God, and I believe they can be a stumbling block in our walk with God. We must view others as He does and see ourselves through His eyes. We are all merely here to bring glory to His name and to further His kingdom. We are not here to seek our own glory and fame. We are to help each other reach our full potential for Christ and that means losing the need to label everything. Max Lucado gives a little example of this in his children's book, "You are Special", it is the story of a little village that spends their day sticking gold stars on the pretty and good people and gray dots on those who have made mistakes. We are all made in the image of God which makes us valuable, so maybe it's time to leave the labels for canned goods and just see people for who they are, a reflection of their Creator who loves them all very much and that includes you.
I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.
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