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Forgive Us Our Trespasses

picture of no trespassing sign

Have you ever seen a no trespassing sign that made you laugh out loud? Most no trespassing signs are pretty straightforward and standard, but some communicate with great creativity the owner's preference that unauthorized parties not set foot on his property — an act that could lead to grave consequences. With that in mind, I take on various aspects of ownership in today's post.

I'll start off with a couple of signs that are straightforward – one commercially done and the other more homespun.

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

Here's one that is simple and made me smile.

picture of no trespassing sign

Here are some signs that explicitly spell out the risks of trespassing on that property.

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

Some signs leave you wondering what you are supposed to do or not supposed to do.

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

picture of no trespassing sign

Of course the whole concept of trespassing is based on the principle of ownership of property, something our founding fathers firmly believed to be one of our basic rights as citizens. Here is a quotation from John Adams.

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. - John Adams

John Adams didn't shy away from the Ten Commandments. Stealing and coveting imply the existence of personal property rights. God says it is wrong to covet or to steal what is someone else's private property.

The concept of ownership is innate. One of the first words a toddler masters is "mine." Just let another child try to play with his toys! 1 Timothy 6:7 tells us "For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world." Once we're born, we spend their lives accumulating stuff. That verse reminds us that no matter how much we acquire, we can't take it with us. And is it actually our stuff since it will be someone else's after we've departed this world? Believers know that everything belongs to God and that we are merely stewards for a short time.

A few years ago I planted blueberries, blackberries, and red raspberries behind our house. The bushes are getting established well enough that we're hoping for a nice little harvest this year. Now I just have to convince the birds that those berries are ours, not theirs! I have put up the only kind of "no trespassing sign" that the birds can read – nylon netting. Below are several pictures of our berry bushes covered with netting.

picture of netting on berry bushes

picture of netting on berry bushes

We'll see the net results in the weeks to come. (Pun intended.) 😀

I look forward to reading your thoughts about anything mentioned in this post. Have you seen any funny no trespassing signs that you could share?


"God has assigned an area for each of us to tend." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

On the grounds of a Nairobi private school: No trespassing without permission.

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17 Comments on “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”

  1. #1 Heather
    on Jun 1st, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Private property is a great concept, except I usually manage to acquire far too much of this good thing — I fill up my drawers and cabinets and have go go buy more drawers and cabinets. Then I fill those up. So I clean them out and take the excess to Good Will, only to go out and buy more stuff. But my drawers and cabinets are filling up again faster than I can account for. I could swear I didn’t buy that much! Ah, the storage closet on the patio! But it’s filling up fast, too. It’s probably a good thing I don’t have an attic, a basement, or a storage shed! (Or all three, as do some unfortunates!)

    And the most ludicrous part of it is that I would probably be hurt and angry if someone broke in and and robbed me of all this stuff I didn’t really need or want anyway! 🙂

  2. #2 Michael
    on Jun 1st, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Interesting quote from John Adams about private property and connecting that concept to the Ten Commandments. While we are to respect other people’s property as theirs, it seems to me as what God is really teaching there is contentment with His best for us. I say this because there is a paradox in scripture where we aren’t supposed to steal or covet what others have, yet we are to be willing to share all that we have with those who are in need. In other words, for a believer, claiming the right to private property does not excuse you from giving what you have to those who are in need. And, the ultimate recipient of all that we have is to be God Himself. He gives us what we have to use in His service for His glory. Thanks for turning our thoughts toward this subject!

  3. #3 Ann
    on Jun 1st, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    The signs reminded me of something that I read recently about the Royal Estate at Balmoral. (It covers only about 50,000 acres.) Prince Philip put up “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs all over the estate. People just ignored them. Then he got a bright idea. He posted signs that read “Beware of Adders.” (For those who don’t know an adder is a snake of the viper family.)

    Heather, as long as you don’t put the trailer part of an 18-wheeler in your yard for storage, you should be okay. A friend’s aunt had one that was stuffed full, as was the house and everywhere else. When the aunt died, her daughters had to have something like 30 dump truck loads hauled off before they could even begin to see what they could sell.

  4. #4 Heather
    on Jun 1st, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Wow, Ann, I’ll keep that in mind. Of course, I doubt my landlord would be at all happy if I put an unauthorized trailer on his private property. 😉 I can see the signs now…

  5. #5 Carrie
    on Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Then there is A.A. Milne’s use of a no trespassing sign: one of the animals, I forget which one, had a sign over his door, “‘Trespassers Wil,’ which is short for Trespassers William.”

    Carrie’s last blog post..Denali Park and Preserve, part 3

  6. #6 Dave
    on Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I think I’d be most scared of the owner who wrote the first sign: “No TRispaseng”

    Dave’s last blog post..Marlon Brando is a Fan

  7. #7 Rob
    on Jun 2nd, 2009 at 6:25 am

    @Heather – It’s when we move that we (re)discover how much we have accumulated! After our last move, we’re trying to be more ruthless about getting rid of what the new acquisitions are supposed to be replacing. The summers we taught in China and lived in a simple little apartment, we saw how little we can get by on.

    @Michael – Yes, there are some interesting paradoxical realities in scripture, yet both are true. I think the Lord lets us have stuff to test our hearts as to how we will handle the stuff and as to whether the stuff will be too important to us. There are some great tensions there between seeming paradoxes that are both true.

    @Ann – Thanks for sharing Prince Philip’s sign. That would make me think more than twice about trespassing! I enjoyed the exchange between you and Heather. 🙂

    @Carrie – Ah yes, the great Winnie the Pooh et al. Thanks for the reminder.

    @Dave – That’s for sure! What would such a person do with a weapon?! 😀

  8. #8 Terry E.
    on Jun 2nd, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Ummm….Rob, maybe if you got rid of the birdhouse in the middle of your bushes, there wouldn’t be as much problems with the birds eating your berries….?

  9. #9 Rob
    on Jun 2nd, 2009 at 6:57 am

    @Terry – The birds in that house (house wrens) eat almost only insects. It’s the brown thrashers (trashers?) that are the greediest in trying to eat the berries.

  10. #10 Vikki
    on Jun 2nd, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Sign in a church parking lot: “Trespassers will be baptized!”

    I once heard a saying that really seems to hold true. “The amount of one’s possessions is directly proportional to the size of one’s basement and garage.” In our last move we went from a full basement to no basement. Wow, did we ever get rid of a lot of useless junk and have yet to miss any of it!

  11. #11 deb holman
    on Jun 2nd, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    the picture of the netted berries with the bird house in the middle resembles the picture that you posted of the no trespassing sign and the welcome sign together. are you giving your birds mixed messsages??!! :))))

  12. #12 Uwe
    on Jun 3rd, 2009 at 5:21 am

    @ Michael and Rob – It seems to me that the observed paradox does not really exist. I think it is one thing to have something as my property. It belongs to me being a person as image of God. But it is another thing what I decide to do with it, again as image of my creator or – unfortunately more frequently – just the opposite. Well, to give away what I have got to people who are needy is just the same what God always willingly does – also to me. The question may be if I do it in the same attitude as he does: out of true love (which has much to do with esteem), not only because I have to in fulfilling a biblical rule. As a child of God his love is poured out in my heart. Again, to save my property is legitimate because taking it away from me without my agreement or to destroy it is a crime, theft, robbery. But lastly the Lord says: If someone claims something from you just give it to him/her and give even more because he/she seems to be needy….

  13. #13 Rob
    on Jun 3rd, 2009 at 6:24 am

    @Deb – Good to hear from you! Yes, I was thinking the same thing as I put the netting on the bushes and then again as I looked at the whole scene from our deck – the view in the picture. Now that the berry bushes have spread as much as they have, I think maybe I need to relocate the bird house. It’s a difficult decision, though. Where the bird house is now, we can watch the comings and goings of the bird while sitting at our kitchen table.

    @Uwe – You have made some good points. For sure, there are a lot of issues in play with our personal ownership of stuff. It’s ours. It’s really not ours. It all actually belongs to God. We can’t take it with us. We won’t want it in heaven anyway. We work for it. Some of it is given to us. We sometimes go into debt to get it. It’s wrong for anyone to take it without the permission of the owner. It’s good to give it to others who have needs. There are all sorts of truths about stuff, don’t you think? We become too focused on stuff and it becomes an idol.

    We humans struggle with materialism, the love of money and of possessions, especially in this age of affluence. We all have a strong tendency to be selfish and greedy. The Bible has lots to say about money and possessions. We need God’s wisdom to sort it all out and to determine what He wants us individually to do with the money and stuff that He gives us. It’s definitely not an easy area of our human lives.

  14. #14 b.j.
    on Jun 3rd, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Oh boy, it looks like “Welcome to Missouri!”
    One that I saw (other than most of these already posted in the area) was “Trespassers will be violated”.

  15. #15 Rob
    on Jun 3rd, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    @Vikki – I had never heard the one you mentioned from the church parking lot. Whoa! I believe that the proportions of you gave of possessions to storage space could well be true for many. As I said in an earlier comment, we’re trying NOT to fill our available storage space. 🙂

    @b.j. – Now *that* is a warning sign that might get someone’s attention!

  16. #16 Teri
    on Jun 3rd, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Rob: I think the one picture you posted of netting UNDER the birdhouse is a pretty funny “no trespassing” picture!

  17. #17 Rob
    on Jun 4th, 2009 at 6:56 am

    @Teri – Thank you for getting it! 😀 I was afraid that the connection was too loose, but you caught it! I’m hoping many others did too.