Stealing the Sign
April 8, 2016 • By Ed Wrather
This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. – Acts 24:16 NKJV.
This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience…. – 1 Timothy 1:18-19a NKJV.
For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, CLEANSE YOUR CONSCIENCE from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. – Hebrews 9:13-15 NKJV.
Signs are often the target of thieves, the more unusual the sign the more likely it is to be stolen. Reportedly, the most stolen sign (Actually two signs) is the US 1 Highway sign with the 0 Mile Marker sign in Key West, Florida. Although there is a road sign in Embden, Maine that may be stolen just as frequently. The “Katie’s C_____ Road” sign has cost the city so much money to replace that they want to rename the road. Some road signs are more important than others, and the removal of them, or poor maintenance of them can be dangerous. Remove a “Dead End” sign and someone could end up dead. When I ran off a dead end when I was a teenager, it would have been nice if there had been a sign. When I was leaving a doctor’s office Wednesday, the street is one way, and I was puzzled for a moment as to why the sign pointed in the wrong direction. Apparently, the top screw holding the “One Way” sign in place had come out causing the sign to point the wrong way.
New Smyrna Beach Police Department in Florida had a nice surprise this week and they posted this on their website: “The City of New Smyrna Beach recently received a strange package in the mail containing a large metal sign that said, NEW SMYRNA BEACH SAYS NO TO DRUGS. Taped to the sign was a hand written note which said: ‘Please accept this sign and funds to reinstall it, as well as my apologies. Sometime in the late 80’s, I stole this sign in a fit of youthful exuberance. Forgive Me!’ Also inside the package was a money order for $50.” (New Smyrna Beach Police Department 04.06.16) The person who stole and returned this sign obviously had a guilty conscience, and it had been eating on him for 30 years. Of course, some people are not bothered by a guilty conscience like the man who failed to return a VHS tape to the rental store 18 years earlier. When he was stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation it was discovered that there was a warrant for his arrest. The video rental store was no longer in business, but he still had to pay a $200 fine, and suffer the indignity of being arrested.
Dictionary dot com gives these definitions for the conscience: “the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action; the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual; and, an inhibiting sense of what is prudent.” I don’t know if you have ever experienced a guilty conscience, but I have. It is not a pleasant experience. It took 30 years before the man who had stolen the sign in Smyrna Beach returned it. This reveals the convicting unrelenting power of the conscience, and why we should avoid doing or saying anything that we will regret. Let us say with the apostle Paul: “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”