Bear one another’s burdens! – Galatians 6:1-6
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 18, 2016
I don’t know about you but as I get older I have discovered that there are certain things I simply cannot do that I could do even four years ago. Age will do that to you. Of course as one grows older you realize you are more responsible for yourself more than you used to be when you were younger. Things like exercise, eating habits, and taking care of your overall health is one’s personal responsibility. I have also discovered that I as I have matured in Christ that while there are certain things I can no longer do there are other things I should be doing on a regular basis!
A lot of today’s believers never mature in their relationship with Jesus simply because they have no spiritual Christian history. In the past our society had a Christian influence that permeated every aspect of one’s life whether one went to church or not. Today this is simply not true. Many are being taught their spirituality by the media, movies, TV, or by public education. None do a good job. The Galatian church faced similar spiritual problems because they came from a paganistic society and were brand new believers. Paul writes them that there were certain things they should be doing in order to mature in Jesus. Let’s discover what Paul writes…
One of things that have fallen by the wayside within Christian churches is the discipline of its members. The church has adopted the politically correct attitude that no one at any time can criticize or say anything someone sees as negative to another person about their personal walk with Jesus. This is heresy and Paul writes that in bearing one another’s burdens…
I. You confront personal sin in fellow believers! (v. 1)
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.
1. Paul begins this section with the term “brothers” meaning his fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. When we come to Christ we become children of God and part of his family (John 1:12-13). Therefore we are brothers and sisters in Jesus. As siblings in the Lord we are to bear each other’s burdens just like a regular family is supposed to do. Families that truly love one another encourage, love, and help one another and in this they are willing to tell fellow family members when they are doing harmful things in their life that affect others around them! So Paul bluntly addresses the fact that “if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him”. Notice that if they are caught in their sin, those of us who are spiritual are to restore them. The wording here means that if someone we love in the family of God is overtaken or influenced by the world of sin around them, those of us who have been divinely restored by Jesus should restore, mend, and repair those who are caught up in their sin! But also notice we are to do it in the spirit of gentleness, meaning with respect, dignity, and humility. Why? Because we know that but for the grace of God there go I! Make no mistake the church is never to back away from disciplining a fellow believer who is in sin. Paul would tell others, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1 NIV) James would write, “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20 NIV) The way they are “covered” is that the sinner is brought back to Jesus! Yet Paul warns the Galatians “But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” As a follower of Jesus you are to confront personal sin in fellow believers!
EXAMPLE: Recently Hillary Clinton has been criticized for not being honest about her health. She has kept her illness from the public out of fear of what people may think and it caught up with her when she fainted during a 9-11 remembrance. She stumbled, fell, and had to be bodily carried into her waiting motorcade where she was whisked away from the prying eyes of the media and public. Just as the personal illness of a Presidential candidate is extremely important to the electorate so too is the spiritual health of the body of Christ to fellow believers! Paul relates we are to confront personal sin in fellow believers!
Confronting a fellow Christian about their personal sin should always be handled with the mindset to restoring the one caught up in sin. In this it requires our personal participation in the life of the body of Christ, the church. And Paul reminds us that is sometimes requires that believers bear one another’s burdens by…
II. Helping to carry another believer’s load! (Vv. 2-5)
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.
1. Paul immediately tells his readers that in order to be a family of God they must “Carry each other’s burdens”. The idea here is that Paul wanted believers to share the heavy crushing and oppressive weight of temptation in life and the spiritual failure that results. In everything he did Jesus set for us an example in how we were to treat not just our fellow man but our brothers and sisters in Christ. When he washed his disciple’s feet, when he healed, prayed, had compassion and mercy, when he forgave, and when he sacrificed everything for us. Jesus taught in everything he did “A new command” that we were to “Love one another” as he loved us, “so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV) And so “in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” It comes from an attitude of humility from being born again, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Pride has no place in the life of a believer. Paul writes that “Each one should test his own actions.” Any pride we may have or felt should be the Godly kind because we “can take pride in [ourselves], without comparing [ourselves] to somebody else”. Paul would write the Roman church, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3 NIV) In fact he would remind them, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:16 NIV) Paul finishes his comment here by reminding them that “each one should carry his own load.” This does not contradict what he taught earlier because that was a crushing load no one could carry by themselves and this is a reference to the knapsacks a Roman soldier carried. Just as a soldier was responsible to carry what he needed to sustain him on a march into battle, we are responsible for carrying what is necessary in our spiritual walk with Jesus. In the spiritual battle we are called to each day we are called to help carry another believer’s load!
EXAMPLE: Jesus was the first one to introduce us to the teaching of “no man left behind”! We find this to be true for military units when they are in the heat of battle that they do not leave a wounded comrade behind for the enemy to capture. Yet in today’s church few understand this spiritual concept. We live in a world of selfish indulgence. Like a crazed crowd caught in a fire far too many believers are willing to run over a wounded comrade rather than stop and help them to safety. The sacredness of church membership has been replaced with the idea church is a “ministry for me”. The body of Christ was established by Jesus so that his work and will would continue in a sin-fallen world until he returned. It was not begun as a fitness spa, coffee shop, or family fun center where one comes to get away from it all and relax for a Sunday. This is why church membership is so important; we are the body of Christ. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27 NIV) This is what the church does; each one helping to carry another believer’s load! Are you a member of the local church, the body of Christ?
Paul would relate that “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16 NIV) And the church is also responsible for their leadership. In bearing one another’s burdens Paul taught the Galatians that they were to…
III. Help shoulder the load! (Vv. 6:6)
Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
1. Paul would often discuss the concept of compensation for those who were pastors of local congregations. He knew that men or women who had given up everything else in life; their regular jobs, much of their family time, and a lot of their personal time to shepherd or minister in some way to a congregation should be compensated for their sacrifice. In fact he would ask the Corinthian church, “Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk?” (1 Corinthians 9:7 NIV) He would go on to contend that even the oxen who helped with the grain wasn’t muzzled but was allowed to eat what it could as it worked and so too those who plowed the field and those who threshed the gain. “In the same way,” Paul related, “the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14 NIV) The local church, the body of Christ, is to support their leadership appropriately. Therefore he wrote the Galatians that “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” Certainly we have examples of greedy ministers who have abused their congregations for monetary gain, but these are few and far between. Most pastors do not receive even close to the same benefits their counterparts do in the business world who do similar tasks or duties. It has often baffled me as a pastor how there are those who consider themselves “Christian” yet they do not tithe, never join a local church, and hardly ever serve. This is simply wrong. If the church needs painting, cleaning, greeting, teachers, helpers, new ministries — you as a believer in the Lord are to be the hands, feet, arms, legs, and such of the body of Christ! And you are to make sure those whom you wanted to lead you are properly compensated for their sacrifice! Believers are to help shoulder the load!
EXAMPLE: I learned a long time ago in high school biology that if one organism attached itself to another to gain a benefit from it without having to do hardly any of the work of survival it was known as a parasite. What then do we call some folks who every week head to a local church to enjoy the “program”, the preaching, the music, or the ministries but never join, give or serve? Perhaps they are spiritual sponges or feel good freeloaders? Now I do not mean to sound harsh but just painfully honest. It is time for the American Christians to begin acting like biblical Christians and help shoulder the load!
You confront personal sin in fellow believers! Helping to carry another believer’s load! Christians are to help shoulder the load!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.