“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – Micah 6:8
“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:20-21
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – II Corinthians 5:17
Out of the mouths of babes. Just when I think that Joey will never evolve past potty humor, he says something so profound that I nearly fall off my seat. We were in a drive-thru line, and I had agreed to a burger from the dollar menu for my starving boy. This of course required a special order of “ketchup only”. When the bag was handed to us, Joey immediately pulled the wrapper apart to inspect the sandwich. Looking at the printed tag stuck on the wrapper, I said, “Joey, it’s ‘ketchup only’. It’s right there on the label.” To which Joey replied, “Mommy, labels lie.”
Preach, Joey. Preach.
I’m not an expert on anything. At best, I’m an observer, and a flawed one, at that. But labels seem to be a big thing right now. Some are trying to shake off labels that they’ve lived with their whole lives. Some are getting new labels slapped on them, often with a vengeance and a price tag too high to bear. And some are slap-happy, casually slapping labels on anything and everything that seems to oppose them.
I have a hard time believing that any of the labels being thrown around today are of God. Reading James 2, I’m convinced that God hates labels – which can only mean that Satan loves them (John 8:44, James 2:1-10). A few examples of lying labels:
- Adam & Eve – When the serpent struck up a conversation with Eve in Genesis 3, he had the audacity to try to label God as a power-hungry sneak, who couldn’t be trusted to provide His best. But the snake was the sneak, and the label he laid out only separated Adam and Eve from the very God Who loved them.
- Gideon – In Judges 6, the angel of the Lord greeted Gideon with a counterintuitive name that challenged Gideon’s timid and defeated self-image. Gideon had labeled himself the smallest of the small and the poorest of the poor, but God called him a “mighty man of valour” and promised a victory that defied labeling.
- King of the Jews – In Mark 15 and Luke 23, Pilate labeled Jesus, nailing a sign to the cross that missed the whole point in three different languages. But in a matter of hours, both a thief and a centurion would see through the lie in that label, acknowledging Jesus as Lord.
The truth is – labels lie. They demean the creation of God, Who saw everything He had made and said that it was good (Genesis 1:31, Colossians 1:16-18, Revelation 4:11). They defy the heart of God, Who would have all men to be saved and is no respecter of persons (Romans 10:12, I Timothy 2:3-5, James 2:8-9). And they deny the work of Christ on the cross, Who offered the first serving of salvation to a convicted felon hanging on the cross next to him (Luke 23:39-43, John 3:16-17, I Corinthians 6:9-11).
The best way to lose a label? Live above it. Live by the Word of God – not just the parts that are an easy read and promise what you want, but ALL of it – even the parts that search your heart, question your motives, and require sacrifice (Psalm 139:23-24, Isaiah 59:1-2, Jeremiah 17:10, Hebrews 4:12). If we as Christians make Micah 6:8 the blueprint for our lives, and we seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, the labels slapped on us will never stick. Everyone in this world is someone for whom Christ died, and when we truly live God’s way, hatred doesn’t stand a chance, good overcomes evil, and Satan’s label-maker gets jammed.
Live above the labels. Don’t limit what God can do in your life or in the lives of others. Labels lie. Satan is a label maker. God is a Label Breaker and a Chain Breaker, a Way Maker and a Miracle Worker (Isaiah 58:12, 62:4, Joel 2:25, II Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 3:20). He is not limited by our labels, and He delights to do more than we could ask for or imagine – over and over again.
Ask God to help you to live above the world’s labels. Be the image of Christ, and no other label will stick. Live Micah 6:8, and there will be no limit to the ways God can use you.