Bear One Another's BurdensYears ago there was German
soldier who was slightly wounded in a battle, and
he went home to his mother. Mom said, "You need to
go to the hospital. They have set one up down the
street." So, he went to the hospital. When he
walked in, he saw two doors. One said, "Seriously
Wounded," the other one said, "Slightly Wounded."
As he wasn't hurt badly, he went through the second
door. He walked all the way down a long hall. Again
there were two doors. One said, "Officers," and the
other one said, "Non-Officers." Being an enlisted
man, he took the non-officers door. Again, there
was a long hall. He walked all the way to the end
where he came to two more doors. The left one said,
"Party Members," and the right one said, "Non-Party
Members." Not being a party member he walked
through the right-hand door and found himself back
out on the street. Upon returning home his mother
asked, "Well son, did they help you?" He said, "To
tell you the truth mom, they didn't do a thing for
me, but you ought to see the tremendous
organization they have."
That little story reminds us again of the
difference between an organization and an organism.
An organization can be well-structured, but the
members may not care at all about each other. But
an organism, by its very nature, has a concern, a
connection, and a togetherness for every part of
the body. In a body there is a sharing, a caring,
and a bearing of one another's burdens by the very
nature of organisms.
"Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law
of Christ." (KJV) "Carry each other's burdens and,
in that way, you fulfill the law of Christ." (NIV)
What are the burdens that we need to bear for one
another? The Greek word rendered burden is bareos
meaning something that makes an overwhelming
demand, that which brings sorrow or grief. A burden
is anything that oppresses the spiritual
development of a brother or a sister. Now mark that
well. A burden is anything that oppresses the
spiritual development of a brother or a sister.
With that definition, one can see quickly that
burdens come in many different forms. For example,
some burdens are spiritual. In fact, that is the
immediate context of our command in Galatians 6:2.
Go back to verse one. "Brothers, if someone is
caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should
restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you may
also be tempted." Then our command, "Carry each
other's burdens, and, in this way, you fulfill the
law of Christ."
In Galatians 6:1, the word that is translated,
"caught," those who are caught in a sin was a Greek
word that was sometimes used to refer to an animal
who found itself in a trap. That's an image, a
metaphor, used all the way through Scripture. 2
Timothy 2:26 says, "Beware the snare of the devil."
In James 1:14, James says, "But each one is tempted
when, by his own desire, he is dragged away and
enticed." The term that is used there refers to a
fishing lure. You see it's not that we are unaware
of what sin is, but we're often unaware, like an
animal heading to a trap, of how insidiously we are
being drawn in, and we are often unaware of how
drastic the consequences are going to be to the
point that we become so burdened that we fall
underneath the weight.
I read a story this week about the white ants in
Africa. It has become one of the major building
nemeses on the entire continent. Folks will pick
out a spot of ground, and they'll build a nice
house. They think everything looks good and one
day, maybe months or a couple of years later, the
entire house just caves in. It's because the white
ant lives underground, and never comes out onto the
surface; it never sees the sun. It lives underneath
the house and eats away inside the timbers to the
point that, when it has done its damage, one can
take his finger and poke a hole through the largest
That's the way it is in many lives, including some
of you. You look so good on the outside, but one
day the whole life, the whole house just collapses
because all that decay was on the inside and nobody
Burdens may be:
1. Sin. The worst burdens are those that are
caused by yielding to our desires and sinning.
2. Emotional. This is not when we are a
perpetrator of sin, but rather when we are the
victim of sin. Maybe we have been mistreated,
neglected. Maybe it's the result of fear or a
grief. Emotional burdens overwhelm us at times.
3. Physical. These may be caused by illness
or accident, impairment, or sometimes just by
4. Financial - A financial calamity brought
on by a layoff, a medical emergency, a poor
investment strategy, or 101 other factors.
We don't have space to list all the ways and shapes
that burdens take their form. But a burden is
anything that oppresses the spiritual development
of a brother or a sister.
Our responsibility to brothers and sisters as
they face these burdens.
1. Be humble. You've got to be humble, or
you're going to be of no use to anybody. I find it
amazing that our command about bearing one
another's burdens is couched between two bookend
verses that say much the same thing. Galatians
5:26, the last verse of chapter 5 states, "Let us
not become conceited, provoking and envying each
other" and Galatians 6:3, "If anyone thinks he is
something when he is nothing, he deceives himself."
Isn't it interesting that the command to bear one
another's burdens is found between two bookends.
The reason more people in God's church don't bear
more burdens is we think we're too good to get down
there and help. "Don't think so much of
I've always been amused by the story of the lady
who is caught in a flash flood underneath an
underpass. The water is rising up to the
floorboard. A young fellow in a four-wheel drive
comes across the bridge up top, stops, opens the
door and leans down. He sees that older woman and
he yells, "Maam, can I help you?" She looks up and
says, "Not from up there!"
He is of no use from up there. Humility is to see
ourselves and be down there. Humility is the
foundation of the command in Galatians 6:1, "...you
who are spiritual should restore a brother." You
see spiritual doesn't mean you're perfect.
Spiritual doesn't necessarily mean you act any
differently, or much better than your brother.
Spiritual certainly doesn't mean having a
self-righteous haughtiness. Being spiritual means
being full of the spirit.
In the same context as our passage, Galatians
5:22-23, we know what being full of the Spirit
means, don't we? It means having love, joy, peace,
patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness,
faithfulness, and self-control. Wrap all those up
and you have a spirit of humility, don't you?
Too many times, we're like the people in a little
town in Connecticut. It was a suburb of one of the
major cities. Some of the people began to be a
little incensed because there were reckless drivers
running through their little suburb. So 53 of them
put their names on a petition, took it to the
sheriff and said, "Stop this in our town." The
sheriff said, "I'll see what I can do." A few
nights later, he put out a watch. Sure enough, he
arrested five people for reckless driving through
the town. All five of them had their names on the
Sometimes we can proudly find faults in others that
are also our own faults. If I am going to bear
another's burden, whether that burden be spiritual,
emotional, physical, or whatever, it starts by
being humble, by being full of the spirit.
Many of you know the name Elza Huffard who wrote
something that I'll never forget. "There was one
who thought himself above me, and he was above me,
until he had that thought." Isn't that good? It
surely is right. Spiritual men and women are so
cognizant of the need of God's grace in their own
lives that they could never approach a brother in
the spirit of arrogance.
So what do I do when I bear a burden? I examine my
own humility. Am I being humble? Am I
2. Be gentle - Galatians 6:1 says, "Be
gentle, restore that brother with a spirit of
gentleness." That's especially pertinent when the
burden that we help bear is related to sin.
3. Bear the burden. That bearing will take
on different forms depending upon what the burden
is. The sentence construction says, "Carry and keep
on carrying the burden." It's the present/perfect
tense, it's not just a "give it a lick and a
promise". Hit it once and move on your way. The way
the sentence is structured says, "You do it and do
it for as long as it takes." If the burden is the
result of a person's sin, Galatians 6:1 says,
"Restore the brother or sister gently." Restore was
the word used by ancient Greek doctors to refer to
the setting of a broken bone. If you've ever had a
bone set, you know you want it done carefully, you
want it done gently. Most importantly it's done for
healing, not for punishment.
If the burden is emotional, you bear it through
counsel, hugs, listening and prayers. You may do
that day after day after day, as long as that
brother or sister carries the burden. If the burden
is financial, the burden is borne by giving your
money or other assistance. If it's a physical
burden, you bear it through your time, effort,
compassion, and energy. Whatever the cause, bearing
the burden means carrying the load until the
brother or the sister can walk unburdened on his
own again. I love the old proverb that says, "A joy
shared is a double joy. A burden shared is half a
What does that demand?
dedication to fellowship
In a Peanuts cartoon some time ago, Lucy looked at
Charlie Brown and said, "Why are we here on earth?"
Old compassionate Charlie Brown looked at cynical
Lucy and said, "We're here to help other people."
Lucy thought a second and put a scowl back on her
face and said, "Then why are other people on
earth?" That's a question the world asks? Why is
everybody else here to mess me up? I don't want
anything to do with them as long as they don't
bother me, "Live and let live, stay out of my
business. Look out for number one and let
everything else go." Let me tell you something,
Christ challenges that. If we fall victim to that,
then we're not God's church. We may be an
organization, but we're not an organism. We're
certainly not the Body of Christ. Fellowship means
more than a handshake on Sunday morning. It means
an integration of life.
We need to be like the two dogs I heard about in
Barnsley, England. There was a little dog named
Nick, a terrier, and another little dog named
Percy, a Chihuahua. One day Percy was hit by a car.
Percy's owner thought that poor Percy was dead. So
that owner, Christine Harrison, took that little
Chihuahua body and put it in a plastic bag, went
out back and buried it in the back yard. Nick, the
terrier, was heartbroken. He went over and dug up
the plastic sack. With his teeth he drug it over by
the house. When Christine came out and picked up
that sack, the heart was beating. Percy, the
Chihuahua not only lived, he totally recovered.
When I heard that story it reminded me that God is
in the resurrection business. Christians are raised
to a newness of life when baptized into that
Christ. They are resurrected from their death to
sin and given a new life pure and free from sin.
We're committed by the same spirit that brought
Jesus back to life, just pulling people from the
clutches of death as we bear their burdens. Folks,
the church is a hospital, but it doesn't matter how
organized we are if nobody gets cured. If we're
going to bear one another's burdens, there's got to
be a real dedication to fellowship.
2. A new
definition of membership in the body.
We are members of the Body of Christ. (Romans
12:4-5 and 1 Corinthians 12) "Therefore we are
members of one another." That's what being a body
is all about. I think we need to be more like
In 1953, you might remember the name Sir Edmund
Hillary. He led the first team to go all the way to
the zenith of Mount Everest. He had a guide with
him, a Sherpa guide, whose name was Penzick Norgay.
It's a good thing Norgay was with Sir Edmund
Hillary because as they began their descent, Edmund
Hillary's foot slipped and he so lost his balance
that he fell completely, but Norgay had taken his
pick and jammed it into the ice and because of the
rope holding them together was able to keep hold of
him until he was able to make his way over and grab
hold of the mountain again. Otherwise, he would
have fallen over a thousand feet. When they got
down to the bottom, everybody was ready to make
Penzick Norgay a hero, and he responded to the
press, "No, no, no, I'm not a hero." He said,
"Mountain climbers are tied to one another to help
each other. That's just who we are."
He didn't want praise for that which was natural.
He didn't want a claim for that which was expected.
Our nature as a body demands that we be committed
to mutual help.
The questions are.
1. Who is your line tied to? You can't all be tied
to every member; that's just not possible, but your
line had better be tied to some Christian brother
2. Who is going to hold you up when you slip and
who will help bear your burdens?
Why bear the burden?
The answer is simple. It's right there in Galatians
6:2, "because it fulfills the law of Christ."
"Well, what is the law of Christ?" I've looked all
the way through the Bible and, in my opinion, Jesus
gave that law when said to his apostles before a
hostile group "A new command I give you, love one
another as I have loved you, so you must love one
another." (John 13:34)
Now when Jesus gave that command, it really was a
bit of a paradox to his listeners because he wasn't
giving a new command to love one another. Leviticus
19:18 commands, "Love one another." That one was a
thousand years before Jesus. But the new command
was to "Love one another as I have loved you."
That's how much I want you to love one another.
Did he bear our burdens? He surely did. He bore
every burden that we have, and every burden that we
will have on that cross on a hill called,
"Calvary." Because of that, Christians know a
newness of life now, and an eternal life in a
perfect place called "Heaven." Jesus has given us
the ultimate model of what it means to bear one
another's burdens-that's the new command. Do it as
long as it takes, as deep as it takes, as much as
it takes. Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill
the law of Christ. Lesson #1313 May 25,