I have a friend that has a fixation with peeling labels off of everything.
The first time I met her, I remember her absent-mindedly peeling off every label that was within her reach. She finally turned to me and said in a light-hearted tone, “If you haven’t noticed, I have this obsession with sticky labels.”
OK, a little odd, I thought.
Over time, her sticky label peeling became just another enduring attribute of my friend. It’s another way to describe her. It’s another way to label who she is.
Too often, we use negative labels to define a person.
The labels can go on and on.
But when do we peel them off?
Some of my family members are struggling addicts, so 12 Step Programs are nothing new to us. In fact, I have heard my brother state for years what he was told in rehab. “I am an alcoholic and will always be an alcoholic. I can only manage the symptoms of my addiction but will never be able to be free from it.”
He has accepted that label.
I do not.
I don’t believe that once a [blank] always a [blank].
You can fill in the [blank] that has enslaved you.
Here are a few things to remember when you feel the need to label yourself or others.
1. In Christ, we are a new creation.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
I think this is where our labels hinder us. We attempt change using our own willpower instead of seeking strength from Christ.
Of course the labels don’t peel away. The best we can do in our own strength is peel the label partially off—but that still leaves a sticky residue behind.
In Christ, you are set free! What once labeled you, no longer holds any power over you.
2. True change will not occur because we did this or that right, but because Christ, through His grace and mercy, changes us.
Even the apostle Paul expresses his own struggles with doing “right.” In Romans 7, Paul exclaims that even when he wants to do right, he does evil. Paul discussed the war that was waging in his mind and body.
Paul could have easily succumbed to the label of “failure” but he knew that his hope was never in himself.
Alone, we cannot change because we are sinners.
We don’t need another 12 Step Program.
We don’t need yet another label to define us.
We need our Redeemer.
Through Christ, we are not only changed, we are restored.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves; it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2: 8-9 (NIV)