Bearing Burdens (a meditation)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ~Galatians 6:2

In the final chapter of his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul spoke about the law of Christ, a hint back to 5:14 where Paul summarized Jesus’ teachings: “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” That one word is love.

Love isn’t easy, especially not the love that Christ calls us to. We are to possess a supreme love for God and from this a deep love for others, including showing love to our enemies by praying for them and seeking to meet their needs. The love the Bible calls us to is a love that always seeks the best for others. Thus, love refuses to whitewash the bad while still focusing on the good. This is how Paul described it in 1 Corinthians 13 when he said that love does not rejoice in wrongdoings but rejoices with the truth.

In Galatians Paul aimed love at burden bearing. Life is difficult at times, not only in feeling the weight of jobs, relationships, and responsibility, but also in feeling the weight of being a redeemed sinner—already forgiven and justified in Christ, but not yet glorified and removed completely from sin.

So we still feel the weight of temptation; we still stumble in our sins. Paul addressed this in 6:1, saying that the more mature among the church are to seek to restore with gentleness a person who has feel into sin. This is the same as what we see in Jesus’ words in Matthew 18. There, Jesus gave several steps of confrontation when another claiming to be a brother or sister in Christ sins. First, go to them in private; then if that doesn’t work, go to them with one or two others; if that doesn’t work, take them before the church; and if that doesn’t work, treat them not as a brother or sister but as one who is without Christ and in desperate need of the gospel. Yet, with each step the aim is restoration—seeking to win back the stumbling brother or sister.

Part of this grace is to help others carry the loads they bear. This is accountability. When another struggles with temptation or sin, we are to be there with prayer, God’s word, and encouragement to help lead them away from their temptations. When another struggles with pain or loss, we are to be there to weep with those who weep. When a new Christian struggles with regular time in God’s word, we’re to be there to help show them the sweetness of personal devotions. When a Christian parent with teenagers for the first time struggles in their relationships with their children, those who have been there are to walk beside them to offer grace in the midst of family fights.

On the one hand, this takes a deep concern and care for others. We must be willing to step into the muck and mire of life and walk with others. On the other hand, this requires honesty and openness. We must be willing to trust others to aid us in our frustrations and struggles.

God’s people are to be about true love. Love bears one another’s burdens.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

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