“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

– James 3:5,6

When I was a kid, I had a group of friends who lived in my neighborhood. Randy was the only one who had a basketball net, so we would gather at his house to play and hang out. I remember once when a guy in our group had a birthday, his dad bought him five shares of Nike stock as a gift. It’s not that this dude was into stocks, bonds, or securities (in fact, he seemed kind of clueless); I think his dad chose the gift because he was into basketball. Nevertheless, since it was such a random thing, we all took to calling him “Wall Street.” The nickname stuck, and for three years in high school, that’s all he was known as! The crazy thing is that years later, I looked him up on MySpace (which was Facebook’s predecessor), and what do you think “Wall Street” did for work? He was an investment banker! If your mind works like mine, you probably wondered right away if his nickname was a contributing factor in his career choice. I firmly believe the answer is yes. Since he heard it over and over again, “Wall Street” lived up to what was ascribed to him. Why? Because words have power!

Friend, my point in sharing this story is to illustrate that labels impact destinies! When “Wall Street” decided what to become as an adult, I am sure he was motivated to live up to what others had called him. Remember that what you see in and say about people often becomes reality. Like a projector displaying screens on a wall, your view of the world involves framing and defining individuals who may, for better or worse, fulfill the identity you ascribe to them. Knowing, then, that you have this power, I encourage you to give positive and life-affirming designations to those around you. Align your thoughts about others with God’s view of them and choose to see the best, not the worst. Speak life, never death, and you will alter the course of people’s future in a way that has eternal impact! Isn’t that great news?


Jesus, I cast down life-stealing labels that have been spoken over me and I choose to identify with what you say about my life. Teach me to use words carefully and to define others with words of positive affirmation.


How have you been labeled? What labels have you ascribed to others? What impact might these labels have?

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