We all know the phrase, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me”. It turns out that this is simply not true. It is especially not true when “words” come in the form of name-calling. There is clear evidence that if someone is called a derogatory name long enough, they start to believe it. You might not recognize it, but Satan is using this technique right now to create a devastating impact on your spiritual journey. Allow me to explain. I invite you to read more.
According to an article published on the website Very Well Family written by Sherri Gordon, a published author and a bullying prevention expert, there are nine negative consequences of name-calling. Her article addressed the issue of name calling among children. She asserts that name-calling is one of the most damaging and painful types of bullying. It “leaves victims with negative messages about who they are burned into their memories. It’s also harmful because name-calling attempts to define people. For instance, calling someone “fat,” “retard” “nerd,” or any other derogatory name chips away at the target’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth, and self-concept.”
Why am I writing about this? Because the biggest bully of them all, and the master name-caller, is none other than the devil himself. It has been said that the devil knows your name, but calls you by your sin, God, however, knows your sin, but calls you by your name. Let’s examine Satan’s purpose for name-calling.
Here are a few of the consequences of name-calling addressed in the article. First, name calling can erode a victim’s sense of self. If someone is called “fatso” long enough, they begin to see themselves as fat.
Next, name-calling can cause someone to compromise their beliefs and values. If someone is insulted because of their beliefs and values, they may bend their values and compromise their beliefs and succumb to peer pressure.
Name-calling can actually affect a victim’s sense of well-being. Repeated name calling can negatively impact a victim, causing changes in their personality and behavior. This can lead to loneliness and despair.
Continual name-calling can cause victims to take on the name as a reality. In other words, it encourages internal criticism. A person’s inner voice begins to call them the same name as the name caller. Over time it becomes almost impossible to turn off the inner voice once this begins.
Finally, and perhaps most seriously, name-calling affects mental health. Over time, victims can become depressed, develop feelings of worthlessness, feel helpless and tragically in some cases lead to suicide.
I hope you see why Satan uses name calling as one of his key tactics to destroy the peace our Lord seeks to give us. Satan wants us to believe that our identity is defined by our sins. If you are prone to gossip, Satan will call you Mrs. Gossiper. If you have ever cheated on your taxes, he will call you Mr. Taxcheat. If you have ever been in trouble with the law, he calls you Mr. or Mrs. Felon. If you have ever committed adultery, Satan makes you wear the scarlet letter “A” as he calls you The Adulterer.
In every case, Satan wants us defined by our sins. Let me ask you this question. What name does Satan have you calling yourself right now? Which of your sins does he keep in the forefront of your thoughts? When you place too much focus on your sins, and begin to define yourself by them, it can:
- Negatively impact your sense of self.
- Cause you to compromise your beliefs and values.
- Destroy your sense of well-being.
- Encourages endless internal criticism.
- Seriously affect your mental health.
In summary, when we identify who we are by the sins we have committed, we become depressed, feel worthless, feel helpless, and lose hope in the mercy of God.
Now, contrast the negative impact of seeing ourselves as the sins we commit, to this important reality: God knows our every sin but chooses to call us by our name. When we repent, God forgives us. We need to learn to forgive ourselves. We need love ourselves as God loves us.
Isaiah 43:25 tells us, “It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more.” In Hebrews 8:12 we read, “For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.” Acts 3:19 states, “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” And finally, Psalm 103:12 gives us this, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us.”
My friends, Satan calls us names, but God calls us home! We are God’s children. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. I will close today with these comforting words found in Isaiah 43:1, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.”
Heavenly Father, you know my every flaw and yet you never stop loving me. You always stand ready to forgive me. Help me to blot out my inner voice when it calls me by the names that Satan calls me, for I know that through Jesus, I am known as a child of God, amen!
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