A definition is the meaning of a word. A label is what would be used to describe a product, or in some cases a person (e.g. conformist, non-conformist, rebel, optimist, pessimist, and so on).
During my mother’s pregnancy, and even up to three days after my birth, I had no name. I was simply known as “Baby Boy Cotter.” My parents wanted a unique biblical name that was easy to pronounce. The name, Amos, means burden bearer. And boy, did I carry a heavy load. I’ve had to travel a long distance carrying more than what I needed. I guess you could say I lived up to my name.
It was that label that stuck with me. My literal mindset caused confusion; and that confusion caused problems. Many people in my young life referred to me as: The screw up. The slow learner. The emotionally unstable one. Stupid. The black sheep, and so on. For over a span of 20 years, I gradually accepted it.
Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
The biblical prophet Amos. This dude knew what hard work was. It is recorded in his book that he was neither a prophet nor a priest, nor was he the son of one either. He was a shepherd, and he gathered sycamore figs. He worked hard. Amos was a shepherd. Just like the twelve apostles were just fisherman. God can use you no matter where you are or what you think your label is. Whatever label you have, God can use you—and mightily.
Me over here…what my name means is the very action of being weighed down, struggling to hold a heavy load. Burdened. You might as well call me Atlas, with the weight of the world on my shoulders. Sounds exhausting.
Tim Tebow, the former NFL quarterback is credited with saying, “Critics are not allowed to define me. Only God can do that.”
Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
My mother used to say that there was a great untapped potential within the fiber of my being—a uniqueness that would not be found in anyone else. Not something that others have in small amounts, not something I can do better, but something no one else has. I didn’t believe her. Then I went to Bible school…reluctantly. And within 72 hours of setting foot on campus, I was told the same thing by three different people.
For the entirety of my freshman year, I didn’t even so much as know the reason why I was there. and during that time, while pressing into God, He told me something I had previously forgotten: I had something—something unique that the world needed, that only I could offer. And that Bible school was my training ground.
These past few months, I have had some rather profound things said both to, and about, me. Such as, that I had vast potential. That there was some power that only I could hold. I guess mom was right.
I don’t say this as a means to place another label on me. The reason I say this is because of what God brought me from, and out of, He can do the same for you. This society we live in is always trying to tell you what you are, who you are, and what your value is. It’s bogus.
Don’t listen to the Liar. We Christians shouldn’t be so worried about what labels the world may throw at us, or what labels others may perceive about themselves. God doesn’t make junk. If you feel as though you are inadequate or lacking, those are lies.
I am through with the labels. Amos was burdened. To quote Matthew West, “I am no longer defined by all the wreckage behind.” I now go by my middle name, Aaron. It means shining light.
This is Pastor Aaron, Keep it in Jesus.