Do you have any nicknames? In college, I had a rather strange nickname courtesy of my field hockey friends. Are you ready for this? It was Dirt. Yep, you read it right: Dirt. Now this may be quite surprising for those of you that know me well, because this city girl does not like to get her hands dirty. But the nickname did not come from dirty hands. It actually originated from a potluck where I brought Dirt in a Flowerpot for dessert. You know, the Oreo cookie, cream cheese, vanilla pudding, Cool Whip concoction? It was a hit and I was called Dirt for a few years thereafter. Isn't it funny how we get our nicknames? I bet you've got some great stories about your nicknames too!
I was reading Judges last week and was intrigued by a label God provided to an unsuspecting man that was hiding in a winepress threshing wheat. Any guesses on the Bible character? It's Gideon. Yep, this unsuspecting man was living under the oppression of the Midianites, so he was threshing wheat in the winepress to keep it from his oppressors (Judges 6:11). Now, check out what comes next...
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." Judges 6:12
I love this verse! I have to admit that after reading Judges 6:11 (which describes Gideon hiding in the winepress), I really didn't picture Gideon as a mighty warrior... but God did! And get this... the Amplified Bible translates mighty warrior as "a mighty man of fearless courage." That's a pretty incredible label, don't you think?
God saw Gideon's potential - God knew who He created Gideon to be... a mighty warrior. This was Gideon's purpose... his identity. And before giving Gideon any instructions, God gave Gideon a label... a mighty man of fearless courage. But that's not all God did. God also reminded Gideon that the Lord was with him... even before calling him a mighty warrior (Judges 6:12).
Let's look at Gideon's response to the mighty warrior comment in Judges 6:15: "But Lord," Gideon said, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."
Isn't it interesting? God sees Gideon as a mighty warrior and Gideon sees himself as "weakest" and "least." Quite opposite ends of the spectrum... And how often is this the case with us? The Bible is filled with labels for us... Labels like fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), made in God's image (Genesis 1:27), and we are made a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5), yet we see ugly when we look in the mirror. Or the Bible tells us we are chosen and God's treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6), we are precious to God (1 Peter 2:4), and God's special possession (1 Peter 2:9), yet we see ourselves as rejected and unimportant. Or the Bible tells us we can do everything through the power of Christ. He give us strength (Philippians 4:13 NIRV), yet we believe we are weak and defeated. We can be just like Gideon, right?
I have a question for you... what labels do you believe about yourself? Are your labels consistent with how God labels you? Or are your labels painted with the graffiti of Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44)? We have the power to replace Satan's graffiti with the beautiful, new paint of God's truth. We just have to learn to put 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 into practice:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (Emphasis mine).
We need to believe that we can defeat Satan's negative labels with God's divine power. We need to take Satan's graffiti captive and paint over it with the positive labels of who we are in Christ. Are you ready? Remember, you can do everything by the power of Christ. He gives you strength (Philippians 4:13 NIrV). Let's see ourselves through God's eyes... let's believe His labels... and let's choose to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
In case you need some help in the label transformation department, here's the song Hello My Name Is... by Matthew West.