Label: a descriptive or identifying word or phrase
Thought for the Day: "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Matthew 16:15 (NIV)
Labels…we use them every day. For many, labeling pertains to food. If we have allergies or reactions to particular types of ingredients it’s imperative for those components to be identified. The same importance is given to medications and washing solutions for clothing. These few factors are only the tip of a very large iceberg when describing the importance of accurate labeling. However, there is another type of labeling that occurs frequently… identifying a person or group with descriptive words or phrases.
In years past, I can remember riding the school bus and hearing the kids in the back of the bus (a prominent place to sit acquired by age) would be whispering and saying, “Yeah, she’s a good little Christian girl.” Of course, that’s certainly not the worse label to pin on a child. In fact, it’s an admirable label; however, when kids on a bus ostracize you and say that phrase in a sing-song manner, it’s hurtful. I dare say, this behavior has lingered on school buses and will continue to persist because we are born with a carnal, sinful, self-serving outside covering.
But I have learned throughout the years while carrying scars of nastiness, labels can be used to strengthen or crush a person’s resolve. I’d like to believe I’ve been strengthened. Those unfortunate incidences helped me to be more apt to listen to children who have been treated unkindly by peer labeling; mothers who are distraught over labels placed on them for being “outside the home” full time workers, and those who are being labeled unfairly due to political affiliations or the color of their skin.
Jesus was in ministry for only three years, but he was not exempt from labeling. Scribes and Pharisees began wrapping Jesus in lies, labeling him as a false teacher because their way of life was being threatened. They feared, as powerful influences in their synagogues, people would no longer respect their rulings and self-imposed laws because the truth of God’s love was melting cold hearts and changing lives. But the labeling Jesus never denied? Being the Son of God and one with the Father. There are innumerable attributes of our Lord and each one, regardless if you call them labels, are tried, true and will stand forever.
The question Jesus posed to his disciple, Peter, was simple and direct, “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” And that reply? Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” That “label” that will never change and regardless of what labels might be imposed upon me personally, the most precious one I wear is being called “A Child of the Living, True God.”
Father, thank you for allowing us to understand that labels can be used for good. Assist our hearts and minds to never place unkind or undeserved labels on others knowing when we do we are disregarding those Jesus came to seek and to save. His goal during his earthly ministry was to teach us to love one another and to love as you loved us, sending Jesus to be the supreme perfect sacrificial Lamb whose blood cleanses every sin we could ever commit. Thank you, Lord! Amen!
Judith "Cookie" White is the founder of The Sounding Board Ministry. She is the author of two devotional books which are available on this site.