Have you ever been tagged with a negative label?
The truth is it has happened to everyone at one point in their life, but few people know how to handle it when other people lie or mislabel them.
Was your label an absolute nasty lie about who you truly are? Maybe you were labeled too small, too much, too intelligent, too ambitious, too large, too beautiful, too naive, too stupid, or something else. There are hundreds of labels, and labels and lies go hand in hand.
Some labels stick forever — certainly in our minds. Do we ever forget being picked last in the schoolyard or the time the teacher said you were not bright? The horror stories about labels go on and on. Some labels are hard to shake and even harder to forget. A label has the power to define our character and our behavior.
Greater still, labels lock us in a belief system that limits our potential and steals our ability to change and grow. Labels are also a thief to our personal and spiritual growth. You will never outgrow what you believe about yourself. We can plan our days, but our days get interrupted or invaded. Some moments are just everyday life, and others are moments that change our lives forever.
Specific moments define and label us.
Labels define us
Let’s look at how King David overcame lies and labels.
“As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, David still holding the Philistine’s head. ‘Whose son are you, young man?’ Saul asked him. David said, ‘I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.’ After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. Saul kept David with him from that day and did not let him return home to his family.” (1 Samuel 17:57–1 Samuel 18:2)
David’s victory over Goliath was unexpected, and the win over Goliath thrust David into the limelight and a life that he never imagined. David’s victory over Goliath defined the rest of his life. We are 3,500 years past the battle and still making movies and cartoons about David and Goliath.
David became the talk of the town and the superhero of Israel. He was so popular that Israeli women sang about him on the streets of Jerusalem. You could say his person and persona became larger than life. After David defeated the giant, Goliath, the victory spawned additional giants — fame and greatness — more labels.
Some of David’s labels were lies, some were gory, and others were great. Some labels are just gory to carry, and both great and gory labels end up as baggage. Greatness is not easy to attain, and rising to the top is hard work and staying on top harder still.
New Labels Uncovered
David’s label as the next King of Israel uncovered new enemies and fresh labels. His label as a great warrior uncovered King Saul as David’s adversary.
“When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul, singing and dancing with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. They sang, ‘Saul has slain his thousands and David’s tens of thousands as they danced. Saul was outraged; this refrain displeased him greatly. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands, he thought, ‘but for me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ And from that time on, Saul kept a close eye on David.” (1 Samuel 18:6–9, NKJV)
King David fights through the labels and struggles. The scripture and the book of Psalms reveal that David dealt with depression, fear, anxiety, and the sin of adultery and murder. David was a man after God’s heart and a man who struggled with life. Can you resonate?
But David also ran toward God and his friends in his struggles.
“Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, ‘What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father that he is trying to kill me?’. ‘As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant before the Lord. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?’” (1 Samuel 20: 1,8, NKJV)
David examines his heart
David was willing to be accountable. The takeaway is vital — we must stop looking at others and examine our hearts.
Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
This is true. Regardless of how others treat us, we must search our hearts and motives. David never asked for God to search others’ hearts, and he asked God to search his heart.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in an everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NKJV)
It is so easy to blame others for our problems and easier to blow off those who label us. David resisted the labels, lies, and enemies that formed around them. David took an alternative route; He asked God to give him a pure heart and a steadfast spirit.
Create a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10, NASB)
We can learn a lot from a shepherd boy who became a King.
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This post first appeared here.