“Don’t judge others, and God will not judge you. If you judge others, you will be judged the same way you judge them. God will treat you the same way you treat others”—Matthew 7:1-2 (ESV).
As a writer, I love words. I’m also reminded of the importance of the words I choose, whether it is to describe, inform, persuade or to tell a story.
Just as the written word, appropriately used, can bring meaning to life, so do the words we use in our daily interactions with others. Words can lead to harmony or dissension. The diversity of our language, with different nuances and meanings, can build bridges or erect walls.
Whichever we choose, building up or tearing down, our words can help or harm our families, our community, our churches and ultimately our way of life. Words have that much power.
A recent social media post by a friend reminded me of this very thing. He described an incident involving a child. Here is his post: “I know racism still exists but when you have to hear something from a child that is being taught by a parent, it is really disheartening. She was told she could never date a black person because they are smelly, gross, and they all come from bad homes. That breaks my heart to hear that kind of stupidity running rampant in this world and still being taught to our kiddos. If you think the color of your skin makes you better than others you need another elementary Sunday school lesson and here it goes: red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. ALL...not just you.”
Why do we label others based on their ethnicity, gender, religion, income and a host of other classifications? Is it fear, fear of the unknown? Is it feelings of superiority?
As humans, we have an inclination to divide all things, including people into categories and groups. Rather than seeing others as God created them and experiencing our differences as well as our commonalities, we slap labels on them. Ultimately, this leads to conflict and antagonism.
Even Christians are guilty. If we are true Christ-followers, we should be removing labels rather than applying those that separate us.
In an article by Brandon Andress, he writes about labeling others. “Because in Jesus, and in the message Jesus preached, you find the most revolutionary, counter-cultural and radical movement in the history of the planet. And that is not some crazy, religious claim.”
Study the words and actions of Jesus, who embraced everyone, regardless of the labels assigned by man. Jesus faced inequality head-on. People were no longer seen as Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, male or female, clean or unclean because in Christ, there is only one new humanity.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Begin a new habit today. Remove the labels you’ve placed on others. See others through the eyes of Jesus.
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