How important are labels? If we’re being truly honest, we know that they can literally make or break us. How you view your identity shapes every decision and action you make – both consciously and subconsciously.
So if someone were to ask you today who you are, what would you say?
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My two-year-old just recently started taking a new gummy vitamin. My oldest has been taking them for over a year now, and we knew it was time to start giving them to her younger sister. She was super excited to be a big girl and chew up her gummy vitamin each morning! There was just one problem… vitamins aren’t exactly the tastiest things in the world, even the children’s gummy versions. Instead of chewing and swallowing her vitamin, she just held it in her mouth refusing to eat it.
So I tried something… I told her that she was a big girl now and that “big girls” take vitamins (And I definitely played up the whole “big girl” thing!) I asked her if she wanted to be a big girl and without missing a beat, she answered yes. Sure enough, she ate the vitamin and shouted, “I’m a big girl, mommy!” And that was that.
My daughter’s perception of herself changed her behavior. Big girls do “big girl” things. They are helpers. They clean up their toys. And they don’t throw tantrums. When I reinforce to my daughters that they’re big girls now, they respond. It’s amazing how much a simple label can change their behavior.
The labels we accept for ourselves affect how we act and react to the world around us.
Our culture understands the need to know your true identity. Nearly every children’s television program or movie preaches self-esteem and being true to oneself, especially the ones geared towards young girls. These messages aren’t necessarily wrong. In fact, they are absolutely right. Knowing who you are is vital to living the life you are called to live. If you believe things about yourself that aren’t true, you will wind up living a life you never wanted.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addressed labels. (Galatians 3:26-28) There was a great deal of hostility between the many groups of people now trying to come together in one faith, and some were trying to hold on to their label of being a Jew or a Gentile. But the truth is that the world’s labels no longer matter as children of God.
“Child of God” becomes our new identity and our old labels fade away.
When we know who we are in Jesus and walk in that identity, our actions change. Our desires change. We act and react accordingly. But unfortunately, there’s an enemy. He would love nothing more than to label us as something we’re not. If he can get us to believe a lie about ourselves, that false identity has the potential to affect every act of our lives.
That’s why we need to be selective. What labels will we accept? What labels will we reject? The truth is that everyone will try to label us. But God’s labels are the only ones that matter and they are the only ones we can rely on to be the truth.
The difference between the world and those who have been saved by grace is that we can actually KNOW who we are. We don’t have to guess. We don’t have to create our identities from scratch. And we don’t have to second guess ourselves and wonder if what people are saying about us is true.
We have an identity that is true and secure in Christ. And it’s an identity that no one can take away from us.
*Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations taken from the NASB.