There’s a thing in grammar called an adjective – and basically put, an adjective describes the quality of the word to which it is attached. When we use adjectives to describe people we tend to call those adjectives by another name: labels. And, we apply these labels to ourselves and others.
Now there’s good labels and bad labels that can be used to describe each of us such as: affectionate, angry, bossy, courageous, cowardly, dependable, generous, grumpy, honest, impatient, intelligent, industrial, nervous, prideful, reliable, rude, selfish, sinful, smart, etc. And perhaps at any point in time we could use any one of those labels to apply to ourselves, after all each and everyone of us are complex beings. In some cases, we may actually be able to apply each and every label listed above to ourselves in one 24-hour period. Whew, just considering that I could be all of that in one day makes me feel tired! Perhaps I should go back to bed.
I like the good labels: affectionate, courageous, dependable, generous, honest, intelligent, industrial, reliable, smart. How about you? What adjectives/labels would you like attached to you? If I am being totally honest then I would have to say that some of the other labels listed above also apply to me. At times I can be angry (especially when someone in a car cuts in too close in front of me when I am driving our big rig), bossy, cowardly, grumpy, impatient (who am I kidding? I can be impatient at the drop of a hat!), nervous, prideful, rude, selfish, sinful. Remember, I said that we are complex beings? Well, at least I am.
As for applying labels to others let’s look at Saul, Israel’s first King; there’s many labels that I think we can easily apply to him. From what we observe in 1 Samuel, we can say that he’s tall, handsome, ineffective, prideful, erratic, limited, weak-willed, impatient, imperfect, promise-breaker, etc. Other than those physical descriptors, it’s not great list is it?
In contrast, there are plenty of adjectives that describe our Lord: perfect, holy, righteous, loving, omnipotent (having an unlimited amount of power), omniscient (having unlimited knowledge), omnipresent (being everywhere at the same time), compassionate, forgiving, incorruptible, infallible, unfailing, everlasting, invincible, eternal. Did you notice something when discussing the adjectives that describe God? There’s not a negative one in the bunch, and that’s because God is perfect!
Now the world will apply many of the bad labels to us, and occasionally a few of the good labels too. And, if we look to and listen to the world then we begin the resemble those labels that are applied to us. We will actually live up to those labels applied to us. We can become consumed by those labels, either in fighting against them, or reinforcing them. Either way these labels distract us from other important things.
The good news is that God also applies labels to us: beloved, treasured, daughter, son, princess, redeemed, righteous, justified, free, heir, sanctified, chosen, forgiven, cherished, etc. And those are the labels that truly matter to me. God says that I am all of those things – and it’s not based upon what I do. It’s based on his unlimited love and grace. I am who God says that I am, I am his beloved child, I am redeemed. And those are the only labels that truly matter to me (besides wife and mother 😀). I would do well to keep my focus on who God says that I am, because when I do, I am with Him and not with the world. And, I can use those labels that God places on me to reflect Him to others.