Privacy Fences Devotional

Privacy Fences

Julia Bettencourt

Posted April 22, 2016

... And who is my neighbour?   Luke 10:29

Passage to Read: Luke 10:25-37

One of the first things that stood out to me about California when my husband first brought me out here to visit over 30 years ago now, was privacy fences.  They are in every neighborhood here in California.  I'm sure they are in Ohio too, but growing up we never lived where there were privacy fences.  Of course we mostly lived out in the country or in town where the houses weren't too close together.

I used to walk a lot before I had knee problems and all those privacy fences were something I always noticed.  I don't think there are any streets hardly in this whole town that doesn't have privacy fences.  It seems like everyone is all enclosed in their little cocoons.

We have a privacy fence around our entire backyard and I probably wouldn't want it any other way, but it still makes me feel so closed in.  That's one thing about a fence.  There are two sides to it.  You shut out intrusions, people, and everything else, but on the other hand, a fence closes you in.

I read a statistic the other day that said a third of Americans have never met their neighbors.  From what I read, I guess that number has increased dramatically over the last several years.  I know we've lived in places where we didn't know our neighbors at all.

Right now we don't have neighbors.  On either side of us the houses are empty. When we did have neighbors, we did get to know the one family a little bit.  They had a daughter Tara's age.  The other family seemed to never be home and I only mostly said hi in passing and would take them home baked goodies during the holidays.  That was about the extent of the interaction.

I don't think people consciously want to block their neighbors out of their lives...well some might.  I guess it depends on what your neighbors are like.  In general though, I think we just get so busy and content in our own busy lives that we don't slow down and make an effort to interact with our neighbors.

I think we kind of get like that in how we live in general too.  We tend to want to put an invisible privacy fence all around us.  We don't let people in.  We keep our distance.  We don't talk to the neighbors.

It gives me cause to pause because Jesus was the very opposite of that.  He was all about the neighbors!  He was all about people.  He loved them.  He cared for them.  He got right up next to them.  He made room for people in His life.

I think about how close Jesus was with people.  Look how much He was on the water with His disciples.  They weren't on cruise ships. Fishing boats have close quarters.  Jesus was rubbing elbows with those disciples.  Look how people followed Him everywhere.  I think of the story of the woman who touched the garment of Jesus and how the crowds were pressing on Him.

I tell my teenage kids all the time to get out of my personal space.  Give me three feet around me is what I always tell them.  Doesn't work though, but I just don't like people up that close to me.  Then I think of Jesus.  He really allowed people to get close to Him even physically.  We have trouble just allowing people into our lives, let alone dealing with the physical aspect of it.

I think though if we are going to make an impact on people we are going to have to start getting to know them.  We have to start investing in the lives of others.  We have to stop building up those privacy fences all around us.  We can say hello to people once in a while.  It won't kill us.  We can be kind to people.  We can encourage people in some way.

I think of how the early Christians went fellowshipping house to house.  You can't really do that without getting to know people.  Can you?  There is so much in the Bible about encouraging each other and praying for each other as believers.  We are to be building people up but we can't do it when we are hiding behind our invisible privacy fences.  We have to stop closing ourselves in.

Not only that but in order to spread the Gospel, we have to talk to people.  We can't do that behind a fence.  We have to make some effort in order to share Christ.

Sure, getting to know people is a little scary.  People can dice us up with their words, hurt our feelings, and make us feel small and miserable.  It happens.  But we just can't stay behind our fences blocking out everyone.  Jesus told us how to treat our neighbors when  He answered the lawyer in Luke chapter 10.

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

The lawyer then asks Jesus "... And who is my neighbour?"

This is where Jesus proceeded to tell the story of the Good Samaritan.  I love this story.  Talk about neighborly.  The Samaritan helped the man who had been beaten.  He bound up the man's wounds, gave the man a ride (on his own donkey), took him to a motel, and even paid the bill.

That's how Jesus said to treat people.  That's loving our neighbor.

The Good Samaritan knew how to get out and invest in people.  Look at the things he did. 

The Good Samaritan had compassion on the man.

The Samaritan didn't cross the road like the priest and the Levite in the story.  He saw a need and did something about it.  He didn't just look.  He wasn't a gawker.  He had compassion and had some interaction with the man that had been beaten. 

I think a lot of us are caring people but sometimes we just have sympathy for people or we empathize with them but there is a big difference between sympathy and compassion.  Compassion moves us.  It compels us and propels us to do something like the Good Samaritan.  Jesus was moved with compassion.  Look what lengths He went to for us.  Christ died for us.

The Good Samaritan took care of the man's physical needs.

The man in the story had been beaten and the Samaritan bound up that man's wounds before he did anything else.  He saw where the man was hurting and poured in some ointment to allow the healing to begin.

What about us?  When we see people hurting are we quick to pour in some ointment?  Are our words soothing?  Or do we say things to hurt people while they are down?  How sensitive are we to hurts and trials people may be facing?

The Good Samaritan lifted up the man.

The man had been beaten up by thieves.  He had been attacked.  The man probably wasn't in shape to climb upon that donkey himself.  I'm sure there was some lifting iinvolved.  The Samaritan had to help the wounded man up onto the donkey.

How about us?  How much lifting do we do?  Do we uplift others with our words and deeds?  Are we encouragers?

The Good Samaritan went out of his way for the man.

The Bible says he took the man to an inn or a hotel.  The Good Samaritan was willing to go the extra mile to meet the wounded man's need.

What about us?  Do we get out behind our privacy fence and take even a few steps to help someone?

The Good Samaritan wasn't selfish toward the man.

The Samaritan put the wounded man on his own donkey.  He used something of His own to help someone out.  How often do we really do that?  How selfish are we?

It also says the Samaritan paid for the wounded man's hotel bill.  Sometimes showing compassion does require giving in a financial way.

I think all the ways the Good Samaritan acted towards this man shows us exactly how to get out from behind our "privacy fences".  We need to have compassion that moves us.  We need to lift people up and be encouragers.  We need to go out of our way.  And then we need to be willing to give.


I don't know about you, but I know I need to start really investing in other people.  I need to break out and find out who people are.  I need to get to know the neighbors.

I need to build more friendships and get to know other believers more.  I need to be more of a blessing to people.  I can't do that if I never leave my yard.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I find myself cowering behind my privacy fence.  It is hard to just step out and get involved with other people.  I'm going to have to try to stop being scared of the unknown.

We can't witness for Christ to those who don't know Him and we can't have fellowship with other Christians if we don't have any interaction with them.

So, what kind of fence have you built?

Copyright ©2016 Julia Bettencourt
Scripture References are from the King James Version.

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