Bearing Burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Those who walk by the Spirit will lovingly bear one another’s burdens.

The Lord Jesus presents love for God and love for our neighbor as the great summary of the entire Law (Matt. 22:37-40).

It only makes sense, then, that love will characterize the life of any Christian who is walking by the Spirit. Love will also be an integral part of any Spirit-assisted ministry to others. Paul tells us in today’s verse that when we help other believers hold up their particular burdens, we are obeying “the law of Christ” or the law of love, which James calls “the royal law” (James 2:8).

But what exactly does Galatians 6:2 mean when it commands us to “bear one another’s burdens”? Commentator William Hendriksen gives us this general but helpful observation: “This does not merely mean ‘Tolerate each other,’ or ‘Put up with each other.’ It means: ‘Jointly shoulder each member’s burdens.’”

The actual word burden calls to mind a variety of possible sins, difficulties, and responsibilities; but Paul was using the Greek term that refers to an extremely heavy and unbearable load. It’s a load that one person alone can’t carry, which underscores again that Christians need each other. The Holy Spirit wants each member of the church involved in a ministry of mutual support.

The essence of burden-bearing is spiritual accountability and responsibility. One of the most practical ways we can bear someone else’s burden is to talk and pray regularly with him or her about spiritual issues and measure that person’s progress in overcoming a certain sin or temptation.

Bearing the burdens of another believer is a wonderful, reciprocal learning process in which both individuals can benefit from God’s truth and understand more about His will for their lives (see Gal. 6:6). As we become more sensitive and obedient to Him, the Holy Spirit orchestrates this ministry and gives us the privilege of instructing and upholding others as we continue to walk in Him day by day.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that His Spirit is powerful enough to help us bear the heaviest burdens of fellow believers.

For Further Study

Read the Epistle to Philemon.

  • What things did Paul probably do to bear Onesimus’s burdens?
  • How was the entire letter a form of burden-bearing by Paul for Philemon?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com

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