Bearing Burdens

By William Stewart

Galatians 6:2 is a nice sentiment — to help other believers who are experiencing hardships. But context is key, and the verse can't be understood properly without the previous verse:
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1
The Greek word for "caught in" is prolambano. Lambano means to take or taken. Adding the prefix pro (before) means he was taken before or caught by sin instead of caught in a sin.

Notice, it was the responsibility for those who are spiritual, to restore the one caught by the sin. It states they should "restore them gently" (Greek: prautes), with mildness, having sympathy, with love. Then the verse adds the warning about being tempted: "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). Also, bearing burdens should be done personally; "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over" (Matthew 18:15).

Lastly, there is the illustration Jesus gave when He washed the feet of His disciples. He said although they were already washed (saved) they still needed their feet washed. This is a picture of forgiveness. Even if we are already saved, we still need relational forgiveness for our daily transgressions — from both God and the people we sin against: "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (John 13:14-15).

Now, about Galatians 6:2: "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (NIV). This refers to the burden of their sin (Greek for burden: baros: going down, a heavy weight) that one could not carry without help. By helping with such a heavy burden, they were fulfilling the law of Christ: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34); "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37).

The Apostle Paul showed this kind of love when a brother repented of his sin in 2 Corinthians 2:7-8: "Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him."

What should one's attitude be if they find themselves confronted about their heavy burden of sin? David gave the answer in Psalms 141:5: "Let a righteous man strike me — it is a kindness; let him rebuke me — it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it."

Galatians 6:5 seems to contradict verse 2: "For each will have to bear his own load." But while the Greek word for "burden" in verse 2 is baros, (a heavy weight needing help to carry), in verse 5 what each Christian should carry is a different word; phortion (meaning a set load, portion, often translated "load") — as one author wrote, it also was used for a pack a soldier would carry. Jesus issues such a light pack to every Christian who enters His service as written in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

So, we see even when bearing our own loads or burdens, we are never left alone: "...and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5).

As a big brother helps a little brother when he stumbles, we should help someone caught in sin get back up, in a loving, tender way. It's a family matter.

Image Credit: Rhett Landry; "Zombie Run Pittsburgh (306)"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Hardships  | Personal-Relationships  | Sin-Evil

comments powered by Disqus
Published 7-26-17