Getting free from bad labels

lā-bəl a brief descriptive phrase or term. a word given to someone based on who they are, what they like, or their appearance.
Labels are powerful. Positive ones can be hard to remember. Negative ones can be hard to shake.
This past week we looked at the story of Rahab in Joshua 2. Rahab had the label “prostitute.” She could have carried that label her whole life, but somehow it changed. She went from being on the “outside” to being part of God’s people. She was chosen, rescued from destruction and became a direct ancestor of Jesus. She ended up being listed with the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. Wow!
It was very impacting to watch people on Sunday put their own past labels on the cross. The room was electric with God’s mercy and our own desperation, always a sweet combination…
Pondering the dynamic of changing labels got me thinking…
Initially responding by seeing the bad label and surrendering to Jesus is the first step. But then a new battle starts.
Labels are typically based on some partial truth. Maybe you failed at something and you were tagged with the label “loser” or worse.
One guy I know carried a label of being the victim. It all started when he was victimized. But it took over his identity. Everything was about how not only one person had wronged him, but how everybody else continued to do so. Anyone who didn’t give him what he wanted was seen as the enemy and he lashed out accordingly. That made healing and healthy relationships impossible.
Our enemy (the devil) is called the father of lies. He takes bits and pieces of truth and makes weapons out of them.
Just look at his strategy in the Garden of Eden, “Didn’t the Lord say…?” throwing in some doubt and questioning God’s motives. And even when trying to tempt Jesus he used partial truths and Bible verses.
It takes God’s love and truth to reveal the lies. It takes courage and grace to walk away from them.
In my next post we’ll look at how to fill the void of those past labels and embrace our new identity.

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