November 26, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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Do you know what seems like a fun job? Naming medicines. Who came up with Claritin or Tylenol or Flonase? This got me about a key question: Who has the right to name something? Think about the things in your life. Who has the true right to label those things? Well, there are two categories of people:
Think about this . . . how weird would it be for me to go over to your house with my label maker and start labeling things in your house, the things you’ve created or the things you’ve purchased? I label your cat “firestarter,” I label your sock drawer “hazardous waste factory,” I label you “fridge.” Now I know that’s a weird analogy, but follow me here for a minute . . .
Even if I go in there and actually labeled everything correctly, is it my job to label stuff you made or the stuff you own? No. Even if I were right, I still wouldn’t have the right, because I didn’t purchase it, so I’m not the owner, and I didn’t make it, so I’m not the creator.
Okay, next question. Believe it or not, the answer to this question has the potential to shape your entire life, and your willingness to embrace the RIGHT answer to this question will definitely determine the direction and the quality of the rest of your life.
Who has the right to label you? Because we all have labels. Some we carry like it’s a badge of honor. We wear them loud and proud. Some we carry in shame and struggle under the weight of them. Some we gave ourselves, but most were given to us by others. Maybe they were given by a parent or your family, by friends, a teacher, coach, or our culture. Some of these labels are jobs, financial statuses, personal achievements and accolades, grades, appearance, what other people say about us, and many other things. And the crazy thing is that some of these labels we’ve been carrying around since before we could even string together a sentence, and yet, they were already shaping our lives. This collection of labels shapes our identity.
Psychologist David Benner defines identity as, “Who we perceive and experience ourselves to be—the I each of us carries within.”
But that brings us back to the most important question, the question we asked earlier. The most important question, the question that may shape the rest of your life: Who has the right to label you?
Now I’m going to add a little something to that . . .
Who has the right to shape your identity and define who you are?
Society? Universities? Psychologists? The media? A coach? A boss? Your church? Your friends? Your family? Your parents?
No. Let me tell who has the right to label you, shape your identity, and define who you are: The One who made you and the One who purchased you.
Genesis 1:26 tells us that God made us in His image and likeness, while Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Let’s look also at these passages from Psalms:
God created us, designed us, and knit us together from the innermost to the outermost part of us. God knows us more deeply, intimately, and completely, more than we know ourselves. If anyone is qualified to properly label us and shape our identity, it’s God. Neither society, media, social media, nor other people are qualified or entitled to shape our identity. And despite what we may think, neither are we! Our identity isn’t shaped by feelings or experiences, but by God, who made us!
But it goes deeper than that, because not only is God the most qualified to label us and shape our identity as Creator, He’s also the only One with the right to because He purchased us!
Now, you can tell the value of something by what the purchaser is willing to pay for it. That’s what something’s worth, right? How much someone is willing to pay for it. Let this truth sink in and wash over you:
John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.”
Revelations 5:9: “And they sang a new song with these words: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’”
Colossians 1:20: “Through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”
And here’s my favorite verse to explain this, 1 Peter 1:18–21: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”
The price God paid in order to purchase us was the most valuable, priceless, precious treasure, His Son, Jesus Christ. He paid this, He purchased us, to free us from sin and death, to give us eternal life, to adopt us into His family as sons and daughters. Because of His great love for us, the God who made it all also paid it all!
He who created us and purchased us has the right to label us and define our identity.
And what are some of those labels? Well, in Christ, we are . . .
Forgiven and Pure. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.“
Chosen. Royal. Holy. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Treasured. Deuteronomy 14:2 says, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
A Masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Righteous. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 it says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Isaiah 43:4 says we’re precious.
Matthew 5:13–16 says we’re salt, light, and a city on a hill.
John 3:16 says we are loved.
John 8:36 says we’re free.
John 15:5 says we’re family members.
John 15:15 says we’re His Friends.
Romans 3:24 says we’re justified.
Romans 8:17 says we’re heirs and coheirs with Christ!
Romans 8:37 says we’re more than conquerors.
1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us we are God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 1:22 tells us we’re secure.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says we’re a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:20 says we’re God’s ambassadors.
Ephesians 1 says we’re blessed, chosen, adopted, redeemed, grace-lavished, unconditionally loved, accepted, and blameless.
Philippians 3:20 tells us our we are Citizens of Heaven.
And in John 1:12 and Galatians 3:26, God gives us the most amazing and beautiful label we could ever receive:
Galatians 3:26 says, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Just think about these for a minute. Whether you’ve read them a billion times or this is the first time, take it in because in Christ THIS IS YOU! This is you on your best and your worst day. This identity can never be removed, tarnished, messed up, forsaken, taken away, or changed.
This is who you become by the grace of God through faith in Christ; this is your identity in Christ! This is who you are on your best day and your worst day. God takes us from sinners who deserve death to citizens of heaven, from enemies of God to His friends, from children of wrath to children and heirs of God! This is who you are when you sin and when you serve. And the craziest part is that this only scratches the surface of the identity we have in Christ.
Okay, so what do we do with this now? How do we take this to the real world? How do we apply our identity in Christ and allow it to impact how we live, how we view the world, how we view people, how we view ourselves?
First, we have to remove from ourselves the labels given to us by the world. By the power of the Holy Spirit that is in us, we must seek to identify the internal scripts we’ve developed based on these labels and begin to refuse and refute them in Christ. Here’s one simple thing you can do to help you begin that process:
Grab some index cards or paper and cut it to index card size. On those cards, write down the three most damaging labels you carry around. Under the label, write the internal script that this label has created for you. On the other side of the card, write the label God has given you in Christ that counters the false label and the verse that declares the truth of God.
As you go about your week, think about these labels as well as others that you carry and begin to speak the truth of God’s Word and what He says about you over these labels. When you begin to do this with regularity and sincerity, you’re going to see something awesome begin to happen:
You’re going to see it affect the way you think about yourself, you’re going to see it impact your decision-making with money, relationships, and career. You’re going to see it affect your priority list and your habits. You’re going to see it impact the way you view the people around you, your church, your calling, and the world.
When you walk in the identity Christ gives you, you will be able to walk in boldness, confidence, courage, compassion, kindness, humility, and power.
Not only that, but as you see yourself as Christ sees you, others will begin to see you that way, too. If you are steady and secure in your identity in Him, your actions, speech, and life will express God’s love. You may find more opportunities to share the gospel, and Christ will be all the more glorified!
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.