In the advertising world, every great marketing campaign is designed to draw attention to a particular label. It is done with the intention to persuade people to buy a particular product. When you go to a store and look at a particular label, if you recognize the name on the product you might decide to pay more because of name recognition. Certain labels might be considered as dependable, sometimes otherwise. When you pick up that product and read the label, the description of its contents are expected to match what’s on the inside. Maybe you remember a jingle that promoted a brand of canned food called Libby’s. It went something like this, “When you see Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label, you will like it, like it, like it on your table, table, table, because it’s Libby’s on the label.”
The point is that we tend to trust labels for one reason or the other, expecting them to be dependable. While they do serve a great purpose, sometimes labels can fade. Sometimes labels are torn or they come off and sometimes things can be mislabeled. So the only sure way to know what the contents are is to open the can and see what’s inside.
Within the body there are many labels and most everyone wants to wear one. Whether we want to admit it or not, we promote different labels – e.g. Baptist, Pentecostal, Messianic, etc. – because labels attract different kinds of people. By the way, the label that attracts one demographic might repel another. But just like with labels on a can, eventually, our labels can fade with time, get ragged or fall off. And, sometimes we get mislabeled.
Just like the package on the grocery store shelf, the only way to know what’s on the inside is to open it and see. The problem is that there are few within the Body who want to open up and be poured out for all to see. We have examples of people who were submitted to this, and were the better for it.
For example, Hannah poured out her soul to the Lord in 1 Samuel. Job said in Job 30:16, “My soul is poured out because of my plight.” The Apostle Paul claimed to be poured out as a drink offering in Philippians 2:17. There are many examples of where people who were in the throes of trial and tribulation found it necessary to be opened up, and be poured out. The greatest example of this is the Messiah. Psalm 22:14 prophesied of Him, saying:
“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within me.”
Isaiah prophesied of Him, saying:
“Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)
If we are truly following the Messiah, we, too, will come to a place where we will be opened up and poured out so that the contents of our being will be manifest for all to see. God doesn’t do this to embarrass us, but it becomes necessary, at times, to see if the label on the outside accurately describes what’s inside. At the end of the day, labels don’t matter as much as the contents.
As the imperfections within us are made manifest, we pray that God will give us the strength to overcome them, that we might one day stand before the Son of Man and deemed acceptable. The only label that matters is one that says, “Faithful Servant of the Most High.” The only compliment that matters is, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So, next time you look at a label, remember it’s what’s on the inside that really counts for something.