Jessica Rocha was very frustrated with her children’s’ behavior (one being her fiancé’s daughter). They were stealing and bullying at school. Jessica had tried a variety of punishments including grounding, taking away sports, toys and privileges, but nothing seemed to be working. In her continued struggle to correct her children, she decided to make a t-shirt describing the child’s actions. The shirt read, “I steal!!! Steal means taking property belonging to someone else without permission…” and the back read, “I steal…Please watch me.” Jessica was also planning a “bully” t-shirt for her son. While the school did not approve of the t-shirt and made the daughter covered it up, Jessica Rocha said that the shirt worked and her fiancé’s daughter stopped stealing after one day of wearing it (Yahoo).
Even though some may disagree with this form of discipline, the thought is very interesting. What if everyone had to wear t-shirts identifying their sins? We would hold our children a little closer when a person with a t-shirt reading, “pedophile” or “kidnapper” came by. It would certainly make us cautious around shirts identifying a person as a “murderer” or “thief.” We would be skeptical when talking with people whose shirts said, “liar,” “manipulator,” or “cheater.”
It’s also possible that people would be uncomfortable around us because of what we have done. Since “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), we would all have something shameful on our shirts. What would ours’ say? Would it make us feel guilty and ashamed? If everyone we came in contact with knew our sins, certainly it would be a powerful motivator for change. People would constantly strive to change the message on their shirts or at least be able to say, “I don’t do that anymore; I’ve changed.”
Even though we don’t wear shirts that spell out our faults, this doesn’t make our sins any less of a reality. While our sins usually aren’t made public, there are no sins hidden from God (Hebrews 4:13). The good news about all of our sinful pasts is that God offers us a chance to put our shirts in the “spiritual washing machine” (Acts 22:16). Notice 1 Corinthians 6:8-11:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
God is offering everyone a fresh, clean beginning through baptism (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16), and by remaining faithful (Revelation 2:10). God wants us to repent and take care of our sins to make them part of the past, not the future (2 Peter 3:9). If we are willing to do this, then the beautiful words of Isaiah 1:18 will become our reality, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”
Are our spiritual “t-shirts” washed and clean?