“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Just reading that verse doesn’t sound like too much fun. It sounds like the pure physics of work combined with getting lost in the ink cloud of a squid. To bear? Like in carry, tote, lug or support. Yowie! It almost sounds like someone is going to try to pull the wool over our eyes until you put it into its proper perspective. To carry each other’s burdens brings us great joy and other fruity feelings. Let me show you how…
Paul wrote Galatians to the early churches of Galatia. Paul recognized the need for this letter as it offers inspiration to help correct the notion that we have to follow the Jewish law, an insurmountable burden that will drag us down, and reassures our freedom in Christ. Galatians is particularly interesting as it contrasts freedom with burdens. Here’s a key verse:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (verse 5:1)
Slavery? Yes. To that Jewish law that we can never fulfill. So Galatians is our charter for freedom, it assures us where our right standing with God comes from, for it is in our heart that we believe and are justified, and with our mouth that we confess and are saved. (Romans 10:10)
Paul made a big deal about freedom here, and if we think from Paul’s perspective he knew true freedom. He set the stage for understanding this as he stood in worldly prisons in shackles and at the same time preached and wrote about feelings of joy, and freedom in Christ.
Paul was the epitome of a pure free man, whether here on earth preaching the Gospel, or in heaven, spending eternity with Jesus, Paul’s spirit of peace transcended all understanding for many people whom he encountered. They beat him up and he was happy, threw him in jail, happy again, and didn’t even mind the thought of being killed as the pain would be temporary, and then he would have freedom in the presence of Christ. He was a man on a mission in every circumstance and opportunity.
Galatians Chapter 6 goes on to say we reap what we sow, and it tells us not to become weary in doing good as we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. We are to do good to all people. This sounds just like the endeavor for peace.
Our self-worth is grounded in the identity of Christ. What is my value to others? My most valuable attribute within the body of believers is to utilize my spiritual gifts.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
So I may be writing this today, while another believer is contributing to the needs of others in a completely different way. Carrying each others burdens… that may fulfill a need, connect me with other believers and add value, all good things. PTL! However, this “one another” directly references a focus on someone else and their burdens. We’re called through obedience to do this with gratitude for others.
The freedom we experience through following Jesus should be liberating…
Liberty – the idea that says we as individuals have control over our own actions. It’s our free will.
Here’s the key to putting this all together: Our freedom through Christ means we are all free to love one another and to serve one another. (Click To Tweet) The fruit of the Spirit liberates us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It is liberating because the Bible says against such things there is no law. This fruity feeling is a spontaneous action of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. When we imitate Him, as in carrying each others burdens, we fill the intended purpose of the law, to love God and to love our neighbors. And that’s what he meant by “the law of Christ.” So think of carrying each others burdens as a gift and opportunity. Doing so with a cheerful heart will show up as the fruit of the spirit in your life.
My author friend Carol Peterson points out a similar person who is an intercessor – someone who identifies with the burdens of another, “with the same commitment, passion and determination as if it were her own.” This is all done by faith knowing that God will answer our prayers and fulfill our needs. We are assured through our faith in Him that carrying each others burdens is a joy that we should readily accept and fulfill with compassion. With the right spirit these “burdens” aren’t heavy at all, they’re something to be excited about and look forward to.
No foolin’. Gotta like that!!
Do you ever feel bound by slavery by trying to fulfill a long list of rules that we as humans will never be able to perfect? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!
Image courtesy of M Hedin on flickr.com