When Labels Mislead

“So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16

As I was raising my children, it seemed that every few months they would come home with a new story of someone putting a label on them. This would take me back to the labels that were placed on me growing up. Some spoken by others. Some I gave to myself.

Photogenic (that one was from my mom, of course), chubby, smart, average, fast and fun. Growing older, I’ve heard too serious, religious, helpful, encouraging and even talented.

It’s a mixed bag.

What about you? Have your actions ever caused someone to throw a label on you, and it stuck? Have you ever beat yourself up over something and given yourself a label?

*Do you struggle signing all the papers for your five children to take back to school and now you’re labelled disorganized?

*Was your husband laid off recently, causing you to temporarily take advantage of the free lunch program for your children, labeling you as poor, or even a free-loader?

*Have you made a misstep in your marriage that now has you labelled untrustworthy?

*Are you always looking for ways to help others so you’ve been labelled a people-pleaser?

*Are you so interested in learning the Bible that some have labelled you religious? Self-righteous?

Adjectives. That’s what these are. They are useful and necessary in the English language but they don’t define us.

You may know the disciple in our scripture today. He was given a man-made label of “Doubting Thomas”. Ring a bell?

But before he ever questioned Jesus, he was a loyal follower and friend to Him.

In John 11, we read that there came a day when the presence of Jesus was requested in Judea, a place where people were positioned to kill Him if He set foot in their town again. When it became apparent that Jesus was going to return there, no matter the threat, Thomas’ reaction was to go, even if it meant it would cost him his own life.

“So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16

This doesn’t sound like the behavior of a doubter, but one moment of questioning at a later time in his life would lead to his label of “Doubting Thomas”, and that label has stuck with him even through today.

Sometimes one misstep can lead to a label that lasts a lifetime.

The only labels that should walk with us day in and day out are the ones given to us by Christ Himself. God’s Word is full of adjectives that mark the believer permanently, like the sharpies in our desk drawers. These descriptors are the words that define us. These labels are permanent.

Redeemed…forgiven…new creation…chosen…free…healed…child of God.

When we let the adjectives of others begin to shape who we think we are, let’s go to the source of truth and bathe ourselves in the names God has given us.

These are the only labels that count.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.