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Sin Sign
Photo: Philip MacKenzie
More people will probably think twice before stealing items from the Wal-Mart in Attalla, Alabama. A startling reminder of what can happen to retail “rip-offs” has been seen outside the entrances of the store. Attalla Judge Kenneth Robertson Jr. ordered two shoplifters to stand outside the doors of the local Supercenter wearing signs that read, “I Am A Thief, I Stole From Wal-Mart.” The two chose to wear the bold white and red sandwich boards for 4 hours on a busy Saturday as a way of avoiding a 60-day jail sentence. (One has unswervingly proclaimed her innocence in the matter.)

As I looked at the photo of the convicted thief standing pensively with the huge signs covering her body I could almost feel her despondent chagrin. The embarrassment was palpable.

And then I had a thought. What if we had to walk around with a sign strapped on every time we did something wrong? What if the entire world could see what we had done in our past by staring at a glaringly obvious sign hanging around our necks that we had to wear every time we stepped out of line? What if we had to parade around town with a sandwich board that proclaimed, “I’m A Phony Christian, I Gossip About Others” or, “I’m A Tax Cheat, I Lied To Get A Better Return?”

Others are Watching

It’s a sobering thought, but we often pass it off as trivial because we’re positive it’ll never happen. Why? Because there seems to be a sense of security in knowing that others won’t see our filthy foibles. The Bible however, makes it clear that there are others watching. It tells us that every act is being recorded and will be judged. In fact, it goes even further and spells out that our words are being taken into account as well. 

“I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter” (Matthew 12:36).

Our accountability on judgment day brings a fact into complete focus; that we do have choices as to whether or not we will do what is right. The decision rests squarely on our shoulders, and a brightly colored sign shouldn’t have to keep us from being dishonest with ourselves and with the world. 

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION®.

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