Reflections on Sharing Each Other’s Burdens
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Have you ever felt like your burdens were too heavy to bear alone? Adversity is a common experience in life. Looming illness, relationship struggles with a child or spouse, financial hardship, a sin pattern or addiction that has you gripped… Perhaps the strains of a particular struggle are crushing you right now. You’re certainly not alone!
Two years ago, I had a herniated disc. Within a few months of the symptoms intensifying, I went from independence to debilitating discomfort and eventual immobility. A crushed disc impinged on the nerve causing excruciating pain and leaving me helpless on a makeshift bed in our living room. My wife had to tend to my basic needs. The most menial of tasks was too great for me. All sense of pride was stomped in the treads of desperation.
In Galatians 6:2, Paul gives instruction to Christians to help each other through life’s challenges. Such challenges take on many forms. In the previous verse, Paul says that when a person “is caught in a sin, we are to gently help restore them as people who live by the Spirit.
The term used here for “burdens” is instructive. He describes these “weights” using the koinonia Greek term barē. In this use it applies to something having “excessive or extreme weight” (Matt 20:12; Rev 2:24). In a later reference, Paul uses a different Greek term, phortion, to describe a “more-manageable burden” (Matt. 11:30; Acts 27:10).
In Galatians 6:2 Paul instructs us to carry each other’s burdens because they are too great to carry by ourselves.
Here are a few practical implication of his instructions.
First, being in Christ does not negate you from experiencing the weights of the earthly life. The brokenness of the world, its hardships, your personal frailty, and the temptation of sin will come your way.
Second, we are not meant to live the Christian life alone. Instead, were to live it in community. We are better together. Ecclesiastes’ reference of the strength of a triple bound cord comes to mind!
Third, there are some burdens in life that we can’t possibly carry on by ourselves. It’s important to note both that we’re not supposed to live life alone, and also that there are occasions we are not even able to do so. This was certainly the case for me 2 years ago with my back injury.
God doesn’t typically intervene in our struggles through sending an angel. Instead, He desires to do so through our Christian brothers and sisters coming alongside us and our doing the same for them.
We fail to apply this truth to our lives when we refuse to allow others to see our burdens. We can mistakenly think that being Christian means we should be self-reliant… as if it’s a sign of godliness. But, this is a dangerous practice that reflects our adoption of an unhealthy practice in contemporary western culture.
Carrying each other’s loads fulfills the law of Christ. In Galatians 6, Paul quotes Jesus saying that the entire law is fulfilled in one word: love (Gal 5:14).
Love is the law of Christ. Loving one another! What better way to love than by sharing each others burdens. I Peter 4:8 reminds us that love covers a multitude of sins.
My prayer is that we can share each other’s burdens through prayer and encouragement during this season, and that we can stay focused on His work of making disciples who make disciples like Jesus.
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