Changing The Label

We opened this package at our church community café. I looked around to see who I could label as ‘rated mature’…

Herbs and spices… One jar label: ‘This herb goes well with pork, beef, duck and chicken recipes.’ That’s sage advice… If I were to switched jar labels… I might not get into trouble immediately but I fear the thyme could be cumin…

The label on our shampoo announces: ‘For extra body and volume.’ The shampoo runs all over my body in the shower… perhaps that’s why I’ve put on weight. I prefer the dishwashing liquid label that says, ‘Dissolves fat that is otherwise difficult to remove.’

Musing… labelling people…

…Sometimes we give people factual, accurate labels… ‘young mother’, engineer, careful-with-her-money, ‘Suffolk-boy’… Some labels help to make sense of a confusing world. Others create meaningless generalisations: ‘All Scotsmen are…’

The label we give people can be inaccurate. The quiet man isn’t necessarily uncaring, the well-dressed lady isn’t always rich… perhaps the one labelled ‘scrounger, beggar’ needs to be re-labelled ‘misunderstood, bereaved’.

Musing… changing the label…

…I’ve given myself labels… my label changed when I became a teacher… married man… father… preacher… headteacher… retiree…

This morning I read the old Bible story… St Paul writes to Philemon about his runaway slave Onesimus, asking him not to punish him as a useless criminal, but to welcome him as a ‘brother-in-the-Lord’. Same man, changed label.

Musing… changing label and contents

Exchanging the ‘Heinz Baked Beans’ label for a ‘Peach Slices in Syrup’ label doesn’t change the can’s contents…

I think of friends who’ve changed both their contents and label… addicts who are now clean… inactive couch potatoes now regular athletes… atheists who are now believers…

…The Christmas story is about the Messiah who changed his label… ‘The word became flesh…’  

‘…Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor so that by his poverty he could make you rich’… changing His label so that we could change our label… and content.

6 thoughts on “Changing The Label

  1. “I think of friends who’ve changed both their contents and label… addicts who are now clean… inactive couch potatoes now regular athletes… atheists who are now believers…”

    Are there no “believers who are now atheists or teachers who are now learners”? I hope I can be termed, loosely possible but, a friend. So I should be in there then.

    Take care.


  2. Yes Alan – Good point – that got lost in the edit… with more time, words and examples I could certainly include friends… atheists that were believers, recovered alcoholics that have lapsed, happily married that are now divorced… We all change labels! I would label myself now as a deskilled teacher – I’m not what I was!


  3. Thanks for a great post Malcolm.
    I remember losing a job that I held for 20 years. It had become my label and when it fell off I kind of fell apart. It took a while but by God’s grace I have several I’m proud to wear.


  4. Thanks Gary. I’ve certainly been there on several occasions. Losing your label can be like losing you identity… the challenge then – as you say by God’s grace and with God’s guidance – is to discover the new label. When I’ve got it right the ‘what next’ question moves me from anxiety to excited anticipation.


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