We live in a Society that loves labels. By definition, a label provides information, or some clue, as to what is being labeled. We label our food so that we know the can we are about to purchase is Green Beans and not Black-eyed Peas, or that we’ve purchased Vanilla Wafers and not Chocolate Chip Cookies. Labels not only contain the name of what you’re possibly buying, but oftentimes contain much needed information such as nutritional facts. After all, I need to know how many calories are contained in the cookies I am about to enjoy so I know how many extra miles to walk on the treadmill. Labels even tell us what size clothes are on the rack so that we make sure we buy what fits. Labels are everywhere we look and we can’t avoid them.
Unfortunately, labels can be deadly weapons in the wrong hands. We’ve all heard stories about medicines that weren’t labeled correctly or had improper warnings. We can probably all think of a child we knew in school that was not considered “athletic” or was not considered “cool” and was labeled. We all know someone who is overweight and is labeled. We all know someone who is shy and is labeled. Labels are even assigned to those with a certain accent, as with my Southern accent, usually in a negative manner. You can even be labeled based on your income level or your education level or by the job you have. Let’s admit it, we tend to look down on the Fast Food employee and look up to the Physician. We even label others based on the car they drive or how large their home is. I’m sure you can think of many more examples or perhaps have even been a victim of being labeled yourself.
My point is that labels based on fact provide needed information. Labels based on opinion; incomplete information, bias; or simple differences among people take on a new identity. At that point, labels become judgemental and are like a sharp knife cutting and slashing anything in it’s path. Facts don’t matter to the labeler. Reasonableness and Common Sense don’t matter to the labeler. Nothing avoids the wrath of the label in the wrong hands.
As a Christian, I can’t honestly say that I’ve always stayed away from labeling others. I’ve been guilty of saying harsh things many times and sometimes wish I could take my words back; unfortunately, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. If you’ve been guilty of labeling others, I can tell you that you’ll cause more harm to yourself than to the ones you’re trying to label. If you’ve been a victim of labeling, never forget that you are a special creation in God’s eyes. We’ve all been given a unique set of gifts and talents that God will encourage you to use in a mighty way. No one of us is better than another in God’s eyes. The person the World saw as a Shepherd, God saw as a King. The person the World saw as a carpenter, God saw as a Savior.
God doesn’t have any use for labels and neither should we. Just because the World may label us or someone else, doesn’t mean we have to join in.