“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you before you were born I set you apart.”—Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)
Do you know what seems like a fun job? Naming medicines. Who came up with Claritin or Tylenol or Flonase? This got me thinking, Who has the right to name or label something? Well, there are two categories of people:
1. Creators: When we create something, we have the right to label it. For example, when babies are born their parents label them by giving them a name.
2. Purchasers: When we purchase something, we have the right to label it. For example, when someone gets a pet, one of the first things they’ll do is give it a name.
Some labels are carried like a badge of honor, others are carried in shame. Some we give ourselves, while some have been given to us. This collection of labels shapes our identity.
Psychologist David Benner defines identity as, “Who we perceive and experience ourselves to be—the I each of us carries within.” Knowing this, how do we answer the questions: Who has the right to label us? Who has the right to shape our identity and define who we are?
Genesis 1:26 tells us that God made us in His image and likeness, while Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Let’s look also at these passages from Psalms:
God created us, designed us, and knit us together from the innermost to the outermost part of us. God knows us more deeply, intimately, and completely, more than we know ourselves. If anyone is qualified to properly label us and shape our identity, it’s God.
Neither society, media, social media, nor other people are qualified or entitled to shape our identity. And despite what we may think, neither are we! Our identity isn’t shaped by feelings or experiences, but by God, who made us! But it goes deeper than that, because not only is God the most qualified to label us and shape our identity as Creator, He’s also the only One with the right to because He purchased us!
1 Peter 1:18–19 (NIV) says, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ.” Friends, the price God paid in order to purchase us was the most valuable, priceless, precious treasure: His Son, Jesus Christ. He made it all and paid it all to free us from sin and death, give us eternal life, adopt us into His family, and call us His sons and daughters!
Pause: Why is God the only One qualified and entitled to give us our identity?
Practice: What are some labels you’ve carried around? How have they shaped your identity? On a card, write down the three most profound labels you carry around. Under the label, write the internal script this label has created for you. On the other side of the card, write a label God has given you in Christ, as outlined in Scripture.
Pray: Father, I am Yours! My entire being, my identity, it all comes from You and centers around You! Help me to walk firmly and confidently in the identity I have received in Your Son, Jesus. Amen.