Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lose Your Labels

My church devotional today is “Lose Your Labels” using Galatians 3:28 -
“There are no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” 
This verse does not say poor or rich, but it does say slave or free. And Jesus speaks in the gospels about not treating people differently regardless of their condition in life.

Photo by Chelsea-martin on DeviantArt

An Experience 


I unconsciously labeled someone last night.

I was eating out with my daughter and a dear friend. As we were leaving and putting up our dishes, I noticed a socially awkward man refilling his drink in a plastic, soft drink container. At first I thought he was toting along oxygen and had a nurse aid with him, but upon further examination I realized the young lady in the nurse attire was not attending to him and indeed what he was rolling around with him was a slender, upright, black, material-covered cart with his belongings. He was cheerful and talkative to the people gathering between the trash and the drink dispensers.

When I passed by he said something about liking the way my perfume smelled. Startled I mumbled a comment about not wearing perfume as I returned to my seat to wait for my accompanying guest to return from the restrooms.

I kept looking at the man move oddly about, chatting cordially, and for the most part being treated quite respectfully by others. My heart tugged.

I wanted to reach out but didn’t quite know what to say or do. The weather was bitter cold outside. But quickly my company had returned and I made my way out to the car.

I made a comment to them about thinking the man I saw was homeless and I kept looking into the restaurant window from a distance as we got into the car. But as we all began chattering, he was quickly out of sight and out of mind.

Upon awakening this morning I was, in a way, haunted by my lack of response. Where did this man sleep last night? What was his story? Of course, I don’t have a clue because I didn’t take time to ask. I hurried off to a prayer meeting at church. Ugh! What would Jesus have done?


And I open my devotion this morning and read that I am to lose labels.

Did I label that man last night? Yes, I did. I thought he was a little off; maybe mentally unstable. I thought he might have been homeless but I did not know for sure. I thought if I approached him to talk he would have talked all night and I would not have been able to break away. I would have been late for my meeting. I was not the good samaritan. I was the religious person hurrying on to get to prayer. How hypocritical!

Even worse, I am not sure how I would have helped this man if he didn’t have a place to stay. I know people at our church help the homeless. I know of local organizations that I support that make sure the homeless are sheltered on very cold nights. But I did not get involved last night, and I don’t have the numbers to help a person I meet in need.

I can only truly repent if I have a plan as to what I will do the next time to not repeat my inaction,  because repentance means I will turn from my sinful ways and change. It is easy to say, “I am sorry God,” but quite a different thing to be sorrowful to the point of making the steps to be different so that you will sin no more in the same way. This will take stepping out into inconvenience and awkwardness. This will also take becoming informed so I can knowledgeably assist a person in need.

In Context

Our verse, Galatians 3:28, is surrounded by teaching on living by faith and being justified by faith and not by works. Immediately prior to this verse, Paul teaches that the Old Testament law was given to us to drive us to faith knowing that we could not possibly keep the law without the Holy Spirit, and that the law is a tutor.

Galatians 3:25 says “But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” 

And this is the great equalizer - Christ Jesus! For you are all (as many of you as were baptized into Christ)--you are all, sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus
“There are no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)
Jesus Christ brings unity. When a person regardless of their identity, background, and status comes to faith in Christ Jesus and becomes a son of God, this person is God’s child. We are all God’s children! We are all heirs in Christ Jesus. We are brothers and sisters. We are sons of God.

Jesus came to redeem us, "those who were under the law", so that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Gal 4:5) And because “you are sons, God has sent for the the Spirt of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba Father!” (Gal 4:6) We "are no longer a slave (in bondage to sin and under the law) but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ Jesus.” (Gal 4:7)

This makes me want to shout, "Amen! Alleluia!”

Application

Look around yourself. When you go to school, to work, to church, or to a restaurant, do you feel different? Do you see people who are different from you? How do you rate yourself among those you are with? What does God say about you? What does God say about others? Do you label people or yourself? Does God?

Know yourself. Know your identity and then extend this to others. 

If you have faith that Jesus lived a sinless life and died for your sins, that he paid your penalty and set you free from the bondage of sin, you believe that Jesus is your savior. You then must confess that Jesus rose, is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and is your Lord/Master. Then, you are saved and become a son of God, are sealed with the Holy Spirit and are permanently an heir of God through Christ Jesus!

If you believe this for yourself, then accept this and believe it for anyone else who confesses as you do. Know that each who does this regardless of their past sins, heritage, social status, citizenship and life experiences are likewise siblings of God, your brothers and sisters, equal heirs of God. 

And knowing this, love one another and serve one another. Be gracious, kind and forgiving to all. 

Going back to the gentleman that I saw at the restaurant last night, I should have had a God-centered heart for him. Now I must pray to God and keep reading the Bible learning to see what that means for me in word and actions. I must be ready to walk by faith. 



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