Words…many words…domineering words, come flying in from every direction. Some words come in quickly and leave just as fast; others stick and remain taking up residence. Many come from the outside…cursing words, others from within…confessing words—defining words.
Marks Gospel records a story of the healing of a blind man—
46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.
Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”
50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.
51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”
52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.
Take a look at the man’s name… Bartimaeus? That is his name, but that is not what they called him…Blind Bartimaeus! They attached his affliction before his name.
“Who is that man sitting on the side of the road begging?”
“Oh, him? That’s just blind Bartimaeus.
They couldn’t seem to simply speak of the man without referencing his affliction. I wonder if through the years Bartimaeus heard the way he was addressed that he eventually introduced himself that way.
There is a story in 2 Kings Chapter five that gives the account of the commander of the Syrian army. But, it starts this way—
2 Kings 5:1 (NKJV)
Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.
If you have been a Christian for any length of time you have read, or heard preached, this story many times, and I would venture to say of this story the last three words of verse 1 are remembered the most…but a leper.
In both of these stories the lead character was defined by their condition. There were so many more great things about each one, but that is not what people focus on or spoke about. And because people defined them this way they began to believe it.
It is not only physical conditions that define us, but also our past failures follow us and try to define us. When it comes to spiritual atrocities…well, that is hard for people to forget.
We all know who doubting Thomas is, one of Jesus’ closest companions, part of the twelve. But, because he had a problem in his belief and needed proof we define him by labeling him a doubter.
How about you? What defines you? Maybe something in your past haunts you daily. You wish your spiritual failure was just a little moment of doubt. Perhaps to you your past seems more brazen. In your mind you are sure that’s all people see. But, that’s because they are jaded and blinded from the truth, and have forgotten that they too have sinned and were in need of a savior and forgiveness.
So how do we change the definition we have lived under?
For the blind man it all changed when Jesus called him… “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” Mark 10:49b
For Naaman it was after he obeyed and dipped the seventh time in the dirty Jordan River… “and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” 2 Kings 5:14b
And for Thomas it was when Jesus walked through a closed door… 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” John 20:27
Friend, in order to change the way you have allowed others to define you or you have defined yourself is, to have an encounter with Jesus.