Can’t You Read the Sign?

Recently, I was visiting a city and drove through a neighborhood street lined with duplexes. One particular unit got my attention. There sat the typical mirror image structure with matching doors, windows, and driveways, but right in the middle of the yard, lined up perfectly with the dividing wall that separates the two homes, built under the same roof, was a large tree. The tree sat exactly on the property line between the two residents’ yards. But here’s what struck me and stuck out . . . on one side of the tree was a big, bold, orange and black NO TRESPASSING sign.

That one foot by two foot sign tacked onto the tree told an obvious story between those two neighbors that live under the same roof—some time, somehow, the one tenant had violated the privacy of the other. Something went down that upset the one tenant to the point where they posted a permanent sign to stay away, stand back, and step off from their side of the yard. The tree was more than a landmark; it was a boundary. And, potentially, even a threat.

As usual with me, I took the story further. I wondered if the “bad” tenant that created the issue had even moved, and maybe the sign-posting tenant had just left it up, so as not to take any chances. After all, if one neighbor had violated the privacy or boundary, it’s likely the next one will too . . . and you just can’t be too careful.

So, here’s the question for us all today.

Where in our life has someone trespassed or violated us in some manner and we posted a sign in our heart toward that person, or type of person, color of person, gender of person, age of person, personality, and so on?

Where have I, where have you, posted NO TRESPASSING signs in our heart? Then what if that person has died, moved on, gone away, but now the sign remains—just in case. After all, if someone “like that” did, likely someone else “like that” will too. And you just can’t be too careful, can you?

Maybe it’s time to walk around the yard of our heart and look for signs of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and judgment? Then ask God for help, strength, and grace to forgive. Take the sign down. Erase the dividing line. And the best possible change? You might meet a new neighbor.

After all, Jesus certainly taught that we all live under the same roof. And, aren’t we glad when we violated Him, He didn’t put a NO TRESPASSING sign on His tree—He hung on it Himself to save us, He erased the dividing line between us, He removed the boundary to His presence.

“Teacher, which command in the law is the most important?” Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.” —Matthew 22:36-40 NCV


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