“Bear ye one another’s burdens,” (Gal. 6:2).
Here is a pithy remark I read recently, “Human sympathy is a universal language, and kindness is intelligible even to dumb animals.” There is need for sympathy all around us, because upon human shoulders lie many an oppressive burden. The father shoulders the burden of providing for the family; the mother feels the weighty burden of home cares; the business man is often weary with the burden of exacting appointments; and, those who minister the Word of God carry the burden of perishing souls. Many burdens like these are obvious, but perhaps the most poignant are those that are borne secretly and silently, for as the Spanish proverb says, “No home is there anywhere that does not sooner or later have its hush.”
It is always a safe rule to notice the words of Scripture in their own setting. In Galatians 6, Paul sets before us some of the practical things of the Christian life. It will be noticed that he begins and closes with the title “brethren”, for in this term are included all Jews and Gentiles that are in Christ Jesus, (vs. 15). Paul therefore reminds us that all our dealings with one another must be ruled by the fundamental fact of our mutual relationship in the Lord. He says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens,” (vs. 2), and in verse 5, he further states, “Every man shall bear his own burden.” There is no contradiction in these two statements when we notice that two different words are used for “burden”. In verse 2 the Greek word is “baros”, and suggests a weight that presses upon one physically. In verse 5 the word is “phortion” suggesting something to be borne, whether the load be light or heavy, (Galatians, C. F. Hogg). The word used in the first instance indicates the possibility of sharing the burdens of the saints as we serve the Lord Christ, while the word used in the second instance intimates the fact that every man must live his own life, and must perform his own labour, for he must answer at the Judgment Seat of Christ as to how he has discharged his obligations as a Christian.
Burdens We Should Share:
“Bear ye one another’s burdens,” (vs. 2): The verse that precedes this exhortation deserves our earnest consideration. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” The sharing of the burden apparently is related to the brother who has fallen, and whose fault has been detected. Paul speaks of his guilt with grace and tenderness. Our attitude should not be to criticize. but to pray for the erring one: not to reproach him. but to help him In speaking of the restoration of the brother. Paul uses a technical term. The word he uses suggests the setting of a bone. This word picture shows that the fallen one suffers pain, a d is temporarily handicapped. but that the spiritual saint may by the. imparting of his strength to the erring brother. help him on the road to recovery. When the possibility that we too may be tempted and may fall is considered, it will give us a real desire to bear the burdens of the brother overtaken in a fault.
This precious Scripture, “Bear ye one another’s burden.” could have, of course, a broader meaning. There are opportunities of sharing the burdens of those who sorrow. If you know of any home where the dark shadows of distress prevail, go and share their grief, and remind them of the promises of God’s Word which shine out as stars in the night, and commend them to the Man of Sorrows, for in every pang that rends the heart, He shares a part. He sympathizes with His own in any trouble, and to each sufferer He sends relief. When we learn of the affliction of the bereaved, and of their loss in the passing of one dear to the family circle, let us help to lighten the weight of their sorrow by “weeping with those who weep.”
“Did you give him a lift? He’s a brother man,
And bearing about all the burden he can.
Did you give him a smile? He was downcast and blue,
And the smile could have helped him to battle it through.
Did you give him your hand? He was slipping down hill
And the world, so I fancied, was using him ill.
Did you give him a Word? Did you Show him the road?
Or did you just let him go on carrying his load?
May the Great Burden Bearer who staggered under the load Of the cross, who in sustaining its weight shared all our burdens. teach us to bear the burdens of others, and so to fulfil the “law of Christ.” that law which embodied the love that prompted all His tenderness and forgiveness toward the erring, and embodies the helping Of the overburdened and the fainting one in the way. The fulfilment of this law by us, is the evidence that we are followers of the sympathizing Jesus.
Burdens We Should Bear:
“Let every man bear his own burden,” (vs. 5). This definitely refers to the shouldering of our individual responsibility in service and in life. This is a burden that we cannot transfer to another. Many Scriptures remind us that during the absence of our Lord, we have been given our own work to do, “To every man his work,” (Mk. 13:34). We all have been assigned some task, and no one else can accomplish this work. It will be noticed that the discharge of our duty is likened in this chapter, to the sowing of seed with the assurance of a harvest, for verse 9 states, “Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Some one has likened the “well-doing” of the Christian to “Burdens that blossom into blessings.” If the youth in his folly sows his wild oats, and if after years he reaps a harvest of misery and disappointed hopes which mock him, shall not the acts of kindness summed up in this scriptural expression, bring a harvest of blessing? We must give an account to God of our life and service; only that which has been done for Christ will last.
The Great Burden Bearer:
In Psalm 55 David exhorts, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee,” (vs. 22). Because of the pressure of circumstances brought about by the rebellion of Absalom, David longs for the wings of a dove that he might fly away, and be at rest. Instead he is taught to cast his burden upon the Lord, and he is given the promise, “He shall sustain thee.” He now passes on to the people of God, this lesson and its precious promise. Remember, dear burdened Christian, God is able to carry both you and your burden, and this He will do “Until the day break and the shadows flee away.” In the bright home to which we are going, there are no burdens, no sorrows, no temptations, for the Lamb is all the light there.
An artist was retouching the picture of the mother that the boy had lost so recently. He was removing the lines and the wrinkles from her lovely face, when the son cried, “Stop! … Please don’t do that! … Don’t take out the lines, leave them every one!” Those lines represented the burdens the saintly mother had borne, and the sorrows which she had endured patiently in her life. She had raised children; she had lost children; she had toiled, cared, and sacrificed, and those wrinkles told out the story of her self-abnegation. How sweet the rest of heaven must be for such an one; life with its trials and affliction all over, and nothing but the calm and joy of the divine presence.
May we learn to cast our burdens upon the Lord and to prove His sustaining grace and strength. The blessed One who bore our sins, can certainly carry our sorrows.
“Oh for faith to cast our load E’en while we pray upon our God, Then rise with lightened cheer.”