Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go"1 (Lyrics)
Isaiah 43:18-19a – Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! (NIV)
We all know about labels and what they are meant to do: They tell us what's in packages, how to use their contents, and any number of details that we may or may not want to know. Often what we do want to know is not there, but that's another story.
We also put labels on people, which may identify someone in terms of what that person is like in our own minds. While we view these labels as helpful at times, they are often based on assumptions that are not accurate or do not even apply now — if they ever did. I am just as guilty as other people of labelling others, but I am often reminded about how wrong I am, and that the label that I have put on someone is totally inaccurate and completely mistaken.
For example, a person may be a senior — but not only are all seniors not the same or have the same issues, but also age often has nothing to do with it. There are a lot of young people who struggle with the same issues as older people, not to mention all the seniors who do not behave like they are old!
People can experience great hurt when they are labelled negatively, and sometimes we label someone based on knowledge about their past (for example, lifestyle, behaviour, or circumstances). It is easy to blame a person's current difficulties (whether it be illness or other challenges) on their past, and yes, this may be true, but God is our great healer and helper, and He can and will heal us, while closing doors on past issues! What may once have been a problem doesn't necessarily apply any longer. God does not want us to dwell on the past, and it would benefit all of us if we would lift each other up by celebrating our present attributes, gifts, and talents, and refrain from boxing one another in with negative labels.
We are renewed when we accept Jesus as our Saviour, and labels in general do not apply. That does not mean that our lives are perfect. We are fallible human beings. However, when we turn to God, all things are possible, including healing (if that is His will), and no one has anything to prove to anyone else if we keep our focus on our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:16 – Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (NIV)
Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)
There is one label that I think we all want to be stuck with, and that is that we are chosen children of God, that He loves us, that He forgives us, and that He will never ever forsake us. Through God's grace and mercy, because we love and trust Him with all our hearts, minds, bodies and souls, the past no longer matters; it's how we live our lives now.
Prayer: Dear Lord, may we all accept one another as Your chosen children, each of whom is unique and special in Your eyes. Grant us the listening ears, the open minds, and the loving hearts that will help us to serve You and Your people (without labels) according to each one's needs and Your will. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen!