Maybe you can think of more than four, but here are four reasons I can think of why we can’t t label people.
Can’t Know the Heart
Only God knows the heart, as “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.‘” (1 Sam. 16:7). This means only God and His Word is “piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:12-13). God sees every thought, intent, and motive. We cannot.
Don’t Know Their History
When we meet someone for the first time and hear about all the things that have been happening to them, we might assume they are in the place they are because they are living in sin. Job’s friends quickly turned on him by accusing him of doing something he didn’t do. They didn’t know Job’s history. He had done a lot of good and was the most righteous man on earth at the time (Job 1), so we can’t label people from what we see in the present condition because we don’t know their whole history.
Don’t Know Their Pain
I can never truly say “I understand” when someone’s going through a great loss or tragedy. I can’t look at them and think, “I know exactly what they’re going through.” Only they and God know how much they’re going through at the moment. To quote Scripture like Romans 8:28 and say that all things will work out for their best might be true, but is it helpful? When someone is grieving, just offer your support and express your sorrow for how much they must be suffering.
Don’t Assume You Know
I am sometimes the worst at this, at least I hope I used to be. When someone was late for a meeting once, sadly I jumped to the wrong conclusion. I was ashamed to find out later they had a very good reason for being late. I think I needed to read 1 Corinthians 13:7 again, which says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I did none of those things. I should have given my friend the benefit of the doubt. That’s what I believe Paul means by saying love “believes all things,” or it believes the best of all things in people.
I have labeled a lot of people in my life only to find out later that I had mislabeled them, so I decided to stop labeling anyone. I can’t label anyone because I can’t know their heart, I can’t know their life story and history, I can’t know the pain they are living in right now, and I can’t assume I know something about a person when I don’t. Therefore, may we all stop labeling people; we have more than enough reason to. I’ve had a taste of humble pie, and I don’t want anymore of that!
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman
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