Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Gal 6:2-5
I’m a person who needs to have people to talk to and confide in. If I try to hold things inside it boils over and makes a mess. I can keep others burdens confidential, but my own burdens I need to talk to someone about. I want to know if my thinking is going in the right direction or if I’m off que a bit or a lot. I’m sure that sometimes I’m not a very comfortable person to be around, but I need to work things out, and I have a hard time doing that all by myself. Peggy probably gets tired or listening to me, especially with my medical “weird Doug things”, but she’s an absolute gem and I love her so much. I really appreciate the men I go and have coffee with. They listen and challenge me in my thinking. I also like to hear where they are in their lives so that I might help them as much as they help me. I’ve also been known to go to a therapist to help sort things out. But the greatest avenue I have to sort out my life is my Father in heaven. I need Him to talk to Him and to find out what He has to say to me in His written word. But for me, it isn’t just taking God’s word for myself, but it is to internalize it and use it to help others. The passage above can be perplexing because it seems to be a contradiction. How can we bear one another’s burdens (v.2) while bearing our own load (v.5)?
First of all, we need to take into consideration that Paul uses the term “Law of Christ”. Christ’s law is based on love. The two greatest laws are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength, and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as you love yourself. If we love God with all we are we will also love one another because we are all the children of God. We need to help one another whenever there is a need and hopefully it will be reciprocated when we are in need. How do we do at being concerned about others or is it all about ourselves? Does it seem that we are constantly going through crisis after crisis? Paul says, in this inspired word, that it’s not all about you. We need to be watching out for one another and helping when we can and be willing to be helped. Yes, we are to bear our own load, but we all need help now and then.
Possibly an understanding of the difference between burden and load would help at this time. The Greek word for burden here is sorrow due to sins or misfortunes. During a time like this we can definitely use help, of some kind, to get us through. What we need is understanding, compassion, and patience; not to receive a slap on the back and be told to “buck up it will get better”. It’s on the same level as James telling the rich to help the poor and not just tell them to be warm and filled and think you have done a good work. People need someone to hold their hand, to pray with them, and to hear encouraging words on how they may be able to overcome their difficult time. Now don’t go overboard with what you think are encouraging words but in reality, you are really trying to fix them. No one likes to be fixed when they are feeling burdened! Use your words wisely so as not to overwhelm and make the burden worse and realize that sometimes less is more.
The Greek word for load is associated with the responsibilities we have in life as a man or woman, husband, wife or child, employer or employee, rich or poor, and we could go on. Each person has responsibilities; it goes with life. Each one of us is to take care of those responsibilities to the best of our abilities while leaning on the Lord for strength. We are to make sure that we can take care of the responsibilities we have been given before taking on more. But, sometimes our responsibilities escalate and become more than what we believe we can handle. During these times, they may become a burden that needs to be shared, but still with the knowledge that it is still our own responsibility, and that someone else is there just to help you in this time of trouble or “overload”. A problem that can occur during these times is to give up trying to bear our own load and expect someone else to take care of it for us. I believe this is Paul’s point here. We need to bear our own responsibilities as a human being, but to also know we have people in our lives that have our back if things get out of kilter, until we are able to get our responsibilities back in line.
Some of the negative things that might result during these times, which Paul points out, is thinking that since we have our lives and responsibilities in order that everyone else ought to also. Some people even come up with the thought that those who are having problems with their responsibilities are slackers and just need to get their acts together. They think more of themselves than they ought to. You can see this most in the difference between generations; probably more in today’s society than ever. What I see, (you can disagree with me, but you’ll have to write your own article J) is a couple of younger generations have missed out in some way (this could vary in many ways according to what you know) the ability to take on their own responsibilities and deal with them. It could be that they grew up in a household that didn’t prepare them to be adults, married, or to have children of their own. They could have come from a household that relied on the government to aid their family, this might be for good and honorable reasons, but they think that as they become adults, married, and have children that the government needs to take care of them also. Now, you can take this as far as you want, as long as you don’t start looking down on them for how they don’t take care of their responsibilities, because they still need to be helped to learn how God wants them to be responsible in their lives. What is the best way to help these people that seem to have lost (or never knew) their way in life? I’m sure that there is not only one answer because it is a many faceted problem.
Paul says that each person needs to come to a knowledge of their own situation and how they can make it right. Education seems to be always the root of dealing with personal and societies problems. How can we give a person a hand up without taking their responsibility away from them? I believe that it takes an understanding of where they are coming from to be able to help them to get where they need to be. If they are having problems with their finances, then to have people of the church help them to understand how to budget their money and make better financial decisions. But also, realizing that some financial matters are beyond one’s control. If there are couples with marriage problems, then there should be instruction from the church on how to deal with those problems. This can be done through classes, video series, or Christian counseling, but we as the church need to find a way to supply it for those in need. If there is a problem with parents knowing how to bring up their children, let’s sit back and complain to one another about it – NO! Let’s help them by giving them encouragement. Most, if not all, of us have had children. We know that it is not easy. We know that every child is different, and though children are children whatever the times we are in, it is different raising kids today than when many of us had small children. We need to practice compassion and patience in encouraging parents and their children.
Nothing good will result in complaining about these situations just mentioned. It will take all of us to help bear each other’s burdens and to learn to bear our own load; but it takes us all working together as the church to help build stronger people that are part of our church. We have a responsibility to each other in the church. It’s not all about the older people, the young people, the single people, the widowed people, the preacher, but all of us coming together to help one another. To build each other up in the Lord and to provide each other with the tools that are needed, and supplied by the Lord, to help those that make up the church to become the church that Christ intended. We can do it, and need to do this, if we want our congregation to grow and bring in those who are lost in a world of sin. I love you all, Doug.