Label Me and You Negate Me
"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."1
Shakespeare said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."
True, we could call a rose by any other name and that wouldn't change its characteristics. We would just get to know it by whatever name we called it, and it would still live up to its name.
Names are significant in that they describe what an object is and what its characteristics are. They also identify places, people, positions, and processes—as well as innumerable other things.
The early followers of Jesus Christ were first known as Christ-ones and soon were named Christians. Thus, a true Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ.
But when it comes to name-calling, or labeling, that's a different issue. As another has said, "If you label me, you negate me." This is especially true if the label is a negative one.
For example, if you label a politician as either a rank liberal or a rightwing conservative, you will automatically negate him/her to those who hold the opposite position. This is destructive when used falsely and maliciously as a political ploy seeking to destroy the reputation of a particular politician who happens to be opposed to your point of view. Or if you take a stand against abortion, homosexuality, or gay marriage, you will immediately be labeled by many as being a narrow-minded, behind-the-times, politically incorrect ultra-rightwing bigot.
Because I include psychology in some of my writings, my writings have been labeled of the devil by at least one person who claimed that psychology was of the devil. I have also been labeled by some as a psycho-babbler. And, if I am so labeled to others, this will negate me and my ministry to some. Actually, as theology applies to the understanding of God, psychology applies to the understanding of the human mind and personality. This makes Jesus both the Master Theologian and the Master Psychologist par excellence.
While we don't want to close our eyes to evildoers, the important thing is that we don't maliciously label others and use such labeling as a form of destructive gossip. For if you label me with a false, negative label, and I do the same to you, we negate each other and in so doing can seriously hurt each other’s good name.
Trying to take back such labeling and gossip is like trying to un-ring a bell.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from the sin of gossip by falsely labeling another in an attempt to destroy their good name. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Proverbs 22:1 (NIV).