Throughout our lives, we will be fitted with many labels. Some of these labels are a label of pride, and equally, so some are those of shame.
Father, Mother, Son, Brother, Sister, Daughter, Believer, Good, Bad, Sinner, Alcoholic. The list goes on and on. All too often, the labels that are assigned, and the labels that we assign to our selves are a barrier. They can serve to dictate our limitations. They can shape and mold our behaviors. They can be indicative of our responsibilities. And unfortunately, from time to time, they can serve as an unfortunate reminder of our pasts.
Anyone who has been on the dieting rollercoaster can probably testify that they decided to get on the rollercoaster due to their desire to “shed” those labels that they have assigned to themselves or the labels that have been assigned to them.
It is with a strong motivation, and resolve they adjust their eating habits, exercise, and then at the moment they feel accomplished they step on the scale. The anticipate mounts as the little square pad which they are standing calculates then spits out a number that quantities their success. The number comes. If it is within the expectations, happiness, and a feeling of accomplishment overtakes. But what if that number is not within our hope? In a moment, that person is deflated. The feelings of accomplishment are erased. All of the sacrifices, changing of habits, and effort are deleted and immediately forgotten if not resented due to a lack of perceived result!
The result of the feeling of failure typically leads us to give up. Why bother trying if we are not getting anywhere?! This mentality is all too present if those who are beginning a new walk with God.
At the very moment, we decide to accept God into our hearts and lives he calls us redeemed! Instantly, without questions. Our pasts are erased from his memory banks, and we are received into his arms and presence. But what of those who knew us before we made this decision? What of those who desire to hold on to our pasts more then we want to hold on to our past?
In the book of Luke, Jesus tells a parable that addresses just this situation…..
“Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
“But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ””
(Luke 15:11–32 NKJV)
As you read this, parable asks yourself some questions from the perception of the different people within the story.
- How much humility did it take for the prodigal son to swallow his pride and return to his father?
- How heartbroken would the father have been had the prodigal son decided to be influenced by his angry brother, and leave the presence of the family yet again only this time, weak and without resources?
- If the angry brother would have gotten his way, how long would it have taken for him to be overtaken by guilt?
- If they angry brother would have gotten his way, what impact would this have had on his relationship with his father over time?
Many more questions could be derived from this parable, but starting with these four is an excellent “jumping off point” to examine your heart and your desires. God, after all, expects only that.
God never expects, nor desires us to examine the hearts of others…..
We can apply a lot of labels to ourselves and those around us. Society tells us that labels are healthy and necessary. What is more critical are the labels that God assigns to us.
- Eph. 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
- Rom. 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
- John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
- Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
- 1Cor. 6:20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
- Col. 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
We all battle with feelings of inadequacy that is one of the things we all have in common on this earth, however, what is more, important and is we also share the above labels assigned to us from God the creator of the earth!
Pray for your self today! Pray for those whom you do not agree with today! Pray for the ability to peel those negative labels off and cast them aside!