When I was young, I was very sensitive to the labels in the back of my shirts. The label which tells you the brand name, the type of fabric, the size, and where it was made. These labels irritated me and as a result I often cut and remove them. I just did not like labels.
We also tend to label people in our society. We label people and give them a name. We label our gender, our race, our age, our body size, our origin of birth, and the like. Labels help us identify ourselves. Unfortunately, however, our world often uses labeling in negative and hurtful ways. Labels can be used to degrade people. Labels like fat, ugly, slow, weird, useless, worthless, stupid, and the rest. Sadly, this list is long and is well used.
We can also allow labels to define us. After long enough, we can begin to believe the labels and succumb to their often hard judgments about who we are. As a result, we live out of that label. When a load of negative labels are placed upon us, we can be overwhelmed with the weight that they bring. Weight that can leave to depression, despair, and defeat.
This is why it is important to remember that our Creator has already labeled us from the beginning. In Psalm 139: 13-14, the writer reflected on this truth and proclaimed in praise:
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
God has created each person with a loving intent and purpose. God does not create junk, cheap imitations, or damaged goods. God has labeled us out of his goodness and love. Hence, each person can claim as the psalmist did that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This is the label that we must allow to define ourselves. The world’s labels are second hand. When we allow God’s label to define us, we discover worth, meaning, and destiny. God has a plan for our lives and has from the very beginning.
As God’s children, this truth should also lead us to refuse to label others in ways that do not honor God. When we treat others with respect and dignity then we not only affirm them as part of God’s wonderful creation, but we worship the Creator who designed them and placed them in our world. Such knowledge should lead us to affirm every person’s worth, value, and sacredness. Ultimately, all that really matters is God’s label. Let us not forget it in our own lives as well as the lives of others.