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Label or Love?

  • Max Lucado Pastor and Author
  • Updated Jul 06, 2020
Label or Love?

RECENTLY WE TOOK our kids on a vacation to a historical city. While going on a tour through an old house, we followed a family from New York City. They didn't tell me they were from New York. They didn't have to. I could tell. They wore New York City clothes. Their teenager had one half of his head shaved and on the other half of his head, his hair hung past his shoulders. The daughter wore layered clothes and long beads. The mother looked like she'd raided her daughter's closet, and the dad's hair was down the back of his neck.

I had them all figured out. The kid was probably on drugs. The parents were going through a midlife crisis. They were rich and miserable and in need of counseling. Good thing I was nearby in case they wanted spiritual counsel.

After a few moments they introduced themselves. I was right; they were from New York City. But that is all I got right. When I told them my name, they were flabbergasted. "We can't believe it!" they said. "We've read your books. We use them in our Sunday school class in church. I tried to get over to hear you when you spoke in our area, but that was our family night and ..."

Sunday school? Church? Family night? Oh, boy. I'd made a mistake. A big mistake. I'd applied the label before examining the contents.

We've all used labels. We stick them on jars and manila folders so we'll know what's inside. We also stick them on people for the same reason.

John tells of a time the disciples applied a label. Jesus and his followers came upon a man who had been blind from birth. Here is the question the disciples asked Jesus: "Teacher, whose sin caused this man to be born blind--his own sin or his parents' sin?" (John 9:2).

Never mind that the man is a beggar in need of help. Never mind that the man has spent his life in a dark cave. Never mind that the man seated in front of them is in earshot of their voices. Let's talk about his sin.

How could they be so harsh? So insensitive? So ... blind.

The answer? (You may not like it.) It's easier to talk about a person than to help a person. It's easier to debate homosexuality than to be a friend to a gay person. It's easier to discuss divorce than to help the divorced. It's easier to argue abortion than to support an orphanage. It's easier to complain about the welfare system than to help the poor.

It's easier to label than to love.

Is that to say we should be unconcerned for doctrine or lax in a desire for holiness? Absolutely not. That is to say there is something wrong with applying the label before examining the contents.

It's easier to label than to love.

From A Gentle Thunder; Copyright 1995 Max Lucado
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