Label Maker

You know those “Hello, my name is ____________” tags you stick to your shirt, forget to take off, and find in shreds days later all over the washing machine? (That never happens to you? Oh. Cool. Me either.) We fill those out for ourselves as we navigate life in the dust—not with names but with false identities. Hello, my name is Competent. Hello, my name is Anger Problems. Hello, my name is Insecure. How many times a day does your heart change name tags?

As heavy as these can be, I find it more difficult if the labels get stuck to me by other people. Hello, your name is Lazy. Or Perfect. Or Not Enough.

“Good” labels can be just as detrimental as “bad” ones. Have you ever felt the need to measure up after making a good impression? It might be how you raise your kids or do your job or cook for Thanksgiving or fit into those skinny jeans. I’m often tempted to throw on whatever mask will cast me in the best light. The burden of having to flawlessly maintain a positive image can break a soul just as easily as walking around with an openly tarnished reputation.

The only labels I can trust are the ones Jesus sticks to me because they have nothing to do with me (and everything to do with Him). I’m covered by His blood, so what is true of Him is now true of me. That’s the beauty of imputation.

We call ourselves names. Others call us names. Jesus calls us names, too, but the labels He gives don’t dehumanize us; they make us more us than we’ve ever been. He’s kinder to us than we are to ourselves, and His names infuse us with the dignity we were created to experience. Because of the cross, our labels have changed:

From / To

despised / beloved

forsaken / called

uninvited / wanted

unwelcome / chosen

abandoned / rescued

refused / accepted

overlooked / delighted in

dirty / clean

lacking / complete

dishonorable / righteous

sinful / holy

condemned / forgiven

undesired / treasured

inadequate / enough

weak / empowered

rejected / adopted

damaged / new

defeated / victorious

neglected / seen

pointless / significant

bound / free

worthless / priceless

unstable / secure

terrorized / confident

Muscle memory can make it so easy to live out of the left column, right? But that’s not who we are anymore. We are new creations with a new Master and new names and a new purpose moving toward a new future.

The easiest way of repelling false labels is knowing the truth about ourselves. What feels true isn’t always what is true—when the two do battle, we need Scripture to trump our hearts. Let’s not allow the enemy to be more convincing with lies than our King is with truth.

Jesus calls Himself the way, the truth, and the life. When a word leaves His mouth, it just is. I love the way Hillsong United’s So Will I puts it:

God of Your promise

You don’t speak in vain

No syllable empty or void

For once You have spoken

All nature and science

Follow the sound of Your voice

And as You speak

A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath

Evolving in pursuit of what You said

If it all reveals Your nature so will I

If He calls us treasured, it doesn’t matter that we feel undesired. If He sings ‘free’ over us, no amount of perceived bondage can change reality. The name tags Christ gives us are the only ones that count, and we can choose to walk in alignment with those identities. The moment “Holy” defined how He saw us, it became our true selves. Dark living isn’t truth for us anymore—it’s a lie. We’re children of light, and when we walk in the light, we’re living honestly. Let’s evolve in pursuit of what He has said about us. It’s time to change out our label makers.

“You will no longer be called Deserted… instead, you will be called My Delight is in Her… for the LORD delights in you…”

(Isaiah 62:4)

Which name tags have you stuck to yourself? How have others labeled you? Will you allow Jesus to call you something true?

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