Labels, Limitations and Letting Go

I once purchased what I thought was a can of jalapeno peppers. However, my inability to translate the Spanish label resulted in my bringing home a can of jalapenos and carrots. Mostly carrots. VERY spicy carrots. They tasted good, but required a little bit of explanation: “Why are there carrots in my enchiladas? Are you on another health food kick?”

Labels, correctly interpreted, provide information and instruction. Nutritional data, warnings about health and safety, proper procedures for use … all these are found on labels. A well-designed label can save your life. A poorly designed one is at least good for a giggle.

But the labels we slap on each other with the wanton abandon of 3-year-olds let loose with Post-it notes aren’t helpful. In fact, they are usually harmful, and frequently they are flat-out wrong.
We must have gotten it from Adam, this desire to classify and pigeonhole and identify everything we see with our eyes.

“So the Lord God formed from the soil every kind of animal and bird, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever he called them, that was their name.”

Gen 2:19 TLB
These days we label people instead of animals. We label one another based on appearance, political position, religious beliefs, age, gender, race … you name it, we’ve got a label for it. We create labels and try to fit the accompanying description to the person, or to ourselves: conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, Socialist, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, gay, bi, straight, married, single, divorced, white, black, Indian, Latino, Hispanic, stoner, druggie, rebel, hippie, preppy, hick, redneck, nerd, geek, pervert, blue-collar, white-collar, insured, uninsured, rich, poor…
There’s no end to the variety of labels, and much like scientific nomenclature, we often end up with multiple “names,” broken down from the largest classification to the smallest. And even the smallest differences are enough to separate us from one another. (First Baptist or Second Baptist, anyone? Seriously, how different can they be?)

We label ourselves, too, adopting things other people have said to us (Pass the Label), or accepting the whispered suggestions of the enemy in our internal ears (Buying the Lie) … Depressed. Lonely. Stupid. Smart. Popular. Failure. Athletic. Clumsy. Worthless. Selfish. Generous. Unimportant. Special. Ungrateful. Loser. Lucky. Ugly. Pretty. Too fat. Too skinny. Too young. Too old. Too extreme. Too whatever. (I’m sure there are people who accept labels like “talented” and “destined” and “important,” too. However, it has been my experience that the people who wear a label that screams “TALENT” are often tortured with labels that produce doubt and fear and paralysis.)
Labels are limiting. We have to let go of those labels in order to achieve the God-invested potential on the inside of us.That’s why Paul wrote the following words, instructing believers in Christ to let go of the labels they’d placed on themselves and on each other. 
Consequently, from now on we estimate and regard no one from a [purely] human point of view [in terms of natural standards of value]. [No] even though we once did estimate Christ from a human viewpoint and as a man, yet now [we have such knowledge of Him that] we know Him no longer [in terms of the flesh].

2 Cor 5:16 AMP

True freedom from the expectations of the world (and from organized religion) is only found in Christ. When we come to Him, all the labels are washed away. Yes, people will continually try to slap some kind of ugly bumper sticker on you, but when you go into the presence of God you remember, “in Him I live and move and have my being.” When we are in Christ, His love is the only label that matters, whether we are looking at ourselves or at someone else.

It’s important in our relationships with each other, too. When we view each other according to the labels we wear (willingly or unwillingly) we limit each other to that definition. According to Paul, it’s even possible to look at Jesus and limit Him according to the labels of the flesh and the natural realm. I don’t want to stand before Jesus and have Him say, “I really wanted to do such-and-so in your life, but you limited Me with that label you had for Me. That label cut off your faith in Me at the knees.” 

Make yourself aware of the ratty old HUMAN labels you unconsciously wear and shrug them off like an outgrown coat. Quit looking at YOURSELF according to the human point of view and see yourself through God’s eyes: beloved, adopted, accepted, approved, cherished, redeemed, delivered, saved, healed, restored, rescued, ransomed, destined, effective, free, graced, holy, justified, made new…

Brooke Shields in Calvin Klein jeans Pictures, Images and Photos

I was in third grade when it became popular to wear a designer’s name on the back pocket of your blue jeans. Wearing the “right” label changed my whole perspective on third grade.

But choosing to wear God’s labels changed my perspective on life.

(This is the 12th installment in the a2z4u and me meme. For more, visit or click on the picture:

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