Looking Over the Fence

by

We spend a lot of time considering others, but many times, it’s not in the best of ways. We consider what others possess, and we want it. We consider others’ actions, and we disagree. We consider others’ opinions, and we crave their approval. Our thoughts of others can lead to coveting, judgment, and other self-seeking behaviors. It’s tempting to put on blinders as a way to avoid these struggles. We wrongly conclude that if we don’t think about our neighbor, but focus only on Jesus, then our thought life will be free from sin.

However, as we fix our eyes on Jesus, and focus on His kingdom, He doesn’t blind us toward our fellow believers; rather, He gives us new ways to consider them. Filled with the love of Jesus, we view one another through the lens of love rather than comparison or contempt. Rather than seeing one another as a measuring stick of God’s love, we begin to understand that each believer is a part of our own body. We mourn when they mourn and rejoice when they rejoice.

When Paul wrote to the Philippian church, he reminded them, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3 NIV84). As we think of others, we humbly count them better than ourselves. Rather than puff ourselves up, we rightly meditate on the ways God is at work in others. We lay down thoughts of ourselves (both self-deprecating and self-congratulating) as we consider the significance of others.

In addition, we consider how to encourage others in their faith. The author of Hebrews exhorts, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (10:24). We’re supposed to look over the fence into each other’s lives—not to covet what they have, but to stir up love and good deeds. Do you notice the work of others around you? Whom could you encourage? Is there someone you think would be excellent serving in a particular ministry? Tell them. Often, a few thoughtful words can stir up an abundance of love and good deeds. As our minds consider others in this way, our tongues will be ready to speak words of blessing.

Finally, we’re instructed to consider our leaders: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (13:7). To be honest, we often spend more time considering the failures of our leaders rather than their faith. It’s easy to think about how a worship service could improve or how our pastor could better serve our particular needs. However, we’re called to consider the lives of leaders and imitate their faith.

The gospel gives us a new mind-set as we consider others. We count them better than ourselves. We think about how to stir up love and good deeds. We emulate the faith of our leaders. A mind fixed on Jesus considers others in life-giving, encouraging ways.

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.