“Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” “For every man shall bear his own burden.” (Gal.6:2,5)
I once read a fable entitled “The Encumbered Ant.” It seems a certain little ant felt life had dealt him a bad deal. It had fallen his lot to carry a piece of straw that was so long and so heavy he suffered under the weight of it. He had to creep wearily across a desert of cement. The stress became so much that the ant despaired and wanted to throw up his antennae and quit. To add to his frustration, he came to a deep chasm—a crack in his path that brought him to a dead stop. He saw no way of getting across the vast divide. As he stood there discouraged, a thought suddenly struck him. His back breaking load could actually be turned into a blessing. Carefully laying the straw across the crack in the concrete, he walked over it and safely reached the other side. His heavy load became a helpful bridge. (copied)
Everyone has burdens. They are common to human kind. Do not despair. God in His Word has given us hope. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Ps. 55:22) The meaning of the Hebrew word translated in this verse as “cast” might more accurately be rendered “roll.” Some burdens are too heavy for us to “cast,” but God assures us that all we need to do is “roll them over onto Him” and we will have all the help we need.
In the text quoted above in Galatians six there are two kinds of burdens that Paul speaks of: burdens of others that we can help to bear and our own burdens that we are instructed to bear ourselves.
The bearing of one another’s burdens: These are burdens too heavy to bear alone. Because Paul introduced this chapter in verse one with the problem of a believer being “overtaken in a fault,” one would proceed with the assumption that a person overtaken in a fault would be strapped with a burden with which he needed help, and Paul directs that the help should come from a spiritual person who with the attitude of meekness (considering one’s self, lest he also be tempted) approaches the struggling brother hoping through the love of Christ to “restore such a one.”
“Overtaken” is a word that suggests the hurting brother or sister in Christ was suddenly overtaken, surprised, blind-sided by an arrow or dart of the wicked one. It does not suggest that this spiritual detour was mapped out or engaged in deliberately. Peter denied knowing Christ after Jesus had been arrested. He had not planned to do that, but suddenly fell into Satan’s trap and did what he thought he would never do. He denied knowing his Lord and Savior. He was overtaken. Jesus, with a look at Peter, was the One who restored him (Luke 22:54-62) as Peter wept bitterly, and having been restored eventually was used of God to preach on the day of Pentecost seeing thousands coming to faith in Christ and then later writing two of God’s New Testament epistles. Talk about being restored!
The faults, then, of which Paul speaks in Galatians 6:1 are serious faults. Examples of what kind of faults Paul is notspeaking of would be (1) someone forgetting to send you a thank you note for a gift; (2) the pastor failing to visit you in the hospital to pray with you before surgery; (3) a leader in the church running a red light because he or she entered the intersection just as the yellow light was turning red. And so forth. There are a myriad of faults. James says that in many things we all offend. (James 3:2) But “overtaken in a fault” that requires help from a spiritual person for restoration is a serious fault, a sudden fall. The one who goes to help in the restoring (as in resetting a broken bone) is one who should be spiritual. A spiritual person is a believer who is yielded to the Holy Spirit, manifesting the fruit of the Spirit in his/her own life, such as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.” (Gal.5:22,23).
So, in bearing the burdens of others, go to the brother or sister who has been overcome in a fault, prayerfully, meekly and Spirit directed in order, if possible, to determine exactly how you can help this fellow fallen believer. You may be able to help by a touch, a word, a look (as Jesus just looked at Peter when he was overtaken) a call, a card, a visit, a hug, a verse. One verse that will help any restorer is Isa. 50:4: “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary….”
The bearing of our own burdens: Paul says in Gal. 6:5 that every man should bear his own burden. Whereas the word “bear” in verse 2 connotes a heavy load, one that the bearing of requires help, in verse 5 Paul employs an entirely different word though the translation comes across the same at least in the KJV. The word in verse 5 suggests that the burden is more like a back-pack. It is not an overwhelming weight and any person should be able to manage these every day “burdens.” These include such things as work (“work with your own hands as we commanded you”-I Th. 4:11); the burden of providing for one’s own (I Tim. 5:8); the burden of rearing one’s own children, (Eph.6:4)—not the state, daycare, church or grandparents, but the parents; the burden of paying one’s own bills and taxes, and the burden of praying for one’s own needs, among others. These are “backpack” loads that anyone would be expected to carry on his own. If you are in the harness with Jesus Christ, He will be helping you carry your burdens: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29,30)
A man was shopping with his small son in a grocery store; the son was pushing the cart and the dad kept putting items into the cart which was getting rather full. A kind, old lady watching said, “That’s a heavy load for a little chap like you to carry, isn’t it?” The boy was quick to respond, “Oh, don’t worry, my dad knows how much I can carry.”
And, Jesus knows how much you can carry, so come to Him and He will give you rest as you bear your own burdens.
“We …that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves.” (Rom. 15:1)
“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)