Labels are for bottles

Last week I saw a sign at a local high school that really got me thinking. It said something like, “Labels are for bottles, not people.” In our society, we tend to label people constantly. We want to classify them as this or that, and then treat them accordingly. When that happens, we no longer respond to a person as an individual, but as a member of some stereotypical group.

God isn’t like that at all. In Acts 10:34-35, the Apostle Peter observed that, “God shows no partiality,” but accepts anyone who fears Him and does what is right. All humankind are created in His image, and the Lord values each of us equally. According to Galatians 3:28, God makes no distinctions for ethnicity, socioeconomic status or gender, but considers all of us “one in Christ Jesus.”

When we label people and treat them differently because of the way they look, dress, talk or whatever, we are judging them. Our favoritism toward or against someone is sin, because it violates God’s royal law, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:1-10).

I am convinced that the seeds of hatred and violence are planted when we label one another. We make a distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us.’ We build walls around our hearts and fail to show the love of God to one group of people, while fawning all over another. But, if we remember that every human being is made in the image of God and loved by Him, then it is harder to hate and to harm them.

I want to stop being like the world with all of its labels. Instead, I want to be like Jesus, who loved every human being enough to die for them. Moreover, He always spoke the truth with the objective of helping, not hurting others. I’ll save my label-maker for jars, containers, bottles and packages, not people. From here on out, I resolve to leave the judging to God, who alone sees into people’s hearts and knows what they are really all about (1 Samuel 16:7). Will you?

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