2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Most people around the world are burdened in some way by the COVID pandemic. But the quarantines have produced one form of collateral damage that nobody seems to have seen coming: suicides. The unbearable nature of loneliness, the inability to congregate and associate with friends and relatives, and the sense of powerlessness felt especially by young people has created a condition never before experienced in this country.
In early September, the Director of the CDC said, “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess…than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.” Our world is panicking over a circumstance it cannot control, and because so many people are spiritually empty, the burden has become unbearable.
Throughout Galatians 6, Paul instructs those who have walked in the freedom that comes from knowing Christ regarding how they should treat each other. One of his instructions is found in today’s passage. As Spirit-empowered people, we are to be aware of and prepared to help shoulder the burdens of fellow Christians who might be struggling with moral or spiritual issues.
The word Paul used for burden is the Greek word barē, indicating an extreme weight or a weight of personal or eternal significance. He is telling the reader to offer a sympathetic ear, a word of counsel or compassionate action to those who are troubled by some burden, whether moral, spiritual or physical.
Paul knew the law of God requires us to love one another, and that includes empathy for a brother or sister who is struggling with life. But this love that Jesus referred to in His commandment in John 13:34 is unique in that it bears the burdens of others without any expectation of reward. It’s the self-emptying love Jesus Himself modeled for us.
The goal of carrying another’s burden is restoration. Just as restoring a 100-year-old piece of furniture can return it to its former beauty, so the goal of bearing another’s burdens is to make right what has been wrong, returning the person to their former Christ-honoring condition. After all, God Himself is in the restoration business. He tells us in Ezekiel 34:16, “I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak.”
But let’s face reality. Many of us are so disheartened by our own circumstances that we have little heart left over for helping others. Everyone gets discouraged from time to time. Determine that you are going to be an encouragement and not a discouragement, a blessing and not a curse, a wing and not a weight.
Practically speaking, all people at one time or another face domestic issues, financial problems, troubles with children, or difficulties with employees and employers. But we have one assurance—we can cast our burdens on the Lord, and often He brings others around us who can help us carry our load.
Are you strong enough in your faith to help bear the yoke of another? Do you love others enough to recognize when they may have issues? And are you sufficiently empowered by obedience to Christ to be willing to help another through a moral or spiritual crisis? May God grant you the insight to recognize when another needs help and the readiness to walk beside that person in support and comfort.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do I love others as Christ has commanded?
- How much time do I spend focused on my own concerns rather than seeking others who may need my care and support?
- Resolve to take this verse to heart and be constantly attentive to the possible needs of others for whom you can be a support.
Today or this week, help a family member or a neighbor. A Preschooler could help pick up his or her toys. Children (Kindergarten-5th grade) can help rake a yard, clean their room, or take out the trash. By doing these chores, you are helping carry one another’s burdens.
Pray for the leadership of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, through which Baptist churches have been sending missionaries for 175 years. Pray for wisdom in decision making, unity and clear direction from God as they pray and lead. Pray specifically for Paul Chitwood, the IMB president.