Sticks and Stones

via Label

label maker

There was a time when I thought label makers were so cool.  Seeing that thin piece of film coming out the end, printed so finely with tags for all my files, was comforting in that now I could actually read the titles at the tops of my most important information.  You know, files like: Golf Scores, Favorite Restaurants, Dog Groomer, etc.  My handwriting is something my mother often referred to as “chicken scratching,” saying she could neither read it or make sense of it.  So the label maker saved my bacon when she came to visit and saw my office filing system.

Unfortunately, some people tend to designate, describe, or hashtag their own labels for other people, becoming in the act, a living – breathing label maker.  Sure I enjoyed having my files labeled, that made finding my stuff easier.  I don’t so much enjoy being branded by those who barely know me, or those who think they know me but don’t, or those that don’t know me and know they don’t know me… as something that I’m not.  You want to know a good label for me?  Here it is:  Sinner saved by GRACE through Jesus.  This is the only label I will wear without hesitation.

Why?  Because I know exactly how true it is.  Because of my sinful condition, (thank God it is only temporal and not eternal), I know some other labels that fit me.  These labels are not the total me, so if you see only this part, then you don’t know the rest of me.  For example, one label that fits is “Failure.”  I’ve failed in a marriage, as a father, as a pastor, as a friend, at business, at being a son, brother, and teacher.  Not all the time.  Not my whole life.  Because in my past and present it would also be right to label me as “Successful.” I’ve been successful in marriage, as a father, a pastor, friend, son, brother, teacher.  I’ve been successful in business, having recently written, and offering for purchase, my first Bible study book on Revelation.  “You see Timmy”, not every label has a “this is all he is” kind of accuracy.

A person can hashtag on their mobile devices all day long, in an instant opinion world where the “optics” are the only thing that matters, and still not be accurate or insightful in these opinions or observations.  Reading between the lines of any one person’s life-story, is impossible to do without divine knowledge.  I’m pretty sure no person surrounding me today, or in my past could be mistaken as divine.  They are pretty much like me in the “sinner” category.  In my mind at least, that makes us all equal.

Some people today use their personal version of verbal label making to assassinate another person’s character.  Lashing out verbally, or on social media, they imitate a group of people from the Bible that Jesus went toe-to-toe with a bunch of times.  The Scribes and Pharisees were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of Israel, and lead the people into divine truth as revealed to them from God’s written word.  The problem was, by the time Jesus began His ministry in the first century, many of these men no longer relied on God’s written word to guide them.  Instead, they turned to the opinions and interpretations of men down the ages who preceded them, reading and citing tradition and opinion rather than the actual words of God.  So when they heard of Jesus speaking, interpreting, and proclaiming the ACTUAL word of God, they became instant human label-makers.

In so doing, they verbally labeled Jesus in front of the masses as a Law-breaker, for eating without ceremonially washing His hands first.  Jesus responded one time this way… Mark 7:6-15

“Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:

These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.  Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.

You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition!  For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.  But you say, If a man tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is Corban” (that is, a gift committed to the temple), you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.  You revoke God’s word by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”  

Summoning the crowd again, He told them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 

At other times, these men called Jesus: heretic, blasphemer, a devil, a liar, they said His miracles were from Satan.

Now, here’s the thing.

Jesus told His disciples that in this world, if they (or we today) decide to follow Him whole-heartedly, we will not only face persecution, name calling, labels, or slander… we could even face death.  This is why it is getting so much harder to follow Jesus in a perverted and twisted society with instant access to social media.  The sticks and stone do hurt don’t they?  The constant barrage of hashtag hate that permeates our society is sickening to our Heavenly Father, I’m sure of it.  But there will always be a cost to following Christ.  What’s a person to do?  I know I gave you this verse just yesterday in my blog, but allow me to emphasize it by reminding you of it here.

John 16:33
I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

Don’t worry about the labels people place on you.  Only, constantly remember the correct label you wear:

Sinner saved by GRACE through Jesus.

 

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