Bear One Another’s Burdens

Bear One Another’s Burdens

Bear One Another’s Burdens.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burdens…  Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ.” (Ps. 68:19; Galatians 6:2).

Bearing Burdens: to lift up and carry; to take up and walk with; to intercede for someone else, whether through prayer or caregiving, whether tangible or intangible; to relieve someone of something that weighs heavily on them.

a. There is something about carrying another’s burdens that reflects the deepest part of the compassionate heart of God. His very Spirit yearns to bear burdens, to carry the troubles of people in need. Bearing burdens is a tangible way of caring for another. When someone offers to help bear a trouble, one can easily see that it’s not just sentimental God-talk or words that seem to convey the mere superficial image of compassion.  Burden-bearing, trouble-carrying, is a part of God’s nature, and so will be a sure sign of our new nature when we put on Christ, when we follow Jesus. When we are covered in Christ, bearing burdens will become second nature. Bearing burdens puts teeth into the statement of Jesus that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. (John 15:13).  Bearing burdens is an important aspect of daily martyrdom, giving up something in your life for the good of a brother/sister. Bearing burdens often involve giving up something, since it involves active participation in another’s life.

b. I once had the privilege of literally bearing a burden during a 4th of July parade. Near the end of the long parade, a man was walking down the middle of the street bearing a huge wooden cross, wanting to make a statement along the parade route for the assembled onlookers. When he passed by me, his face was bright red through the obvious physical exertion, and his steps were halting and stumbling, and he appeared to be unable to complete the parade route. I decided to jump out of my chair and take his place beneath the cross. I went over to him in the street and removed the cross from his shoulder and placed the cross on mine. And I finished the parade for him as he recovered from his journey. This was no big deal, anybody would have done the same thing, but I experienced first-hand the significance of burden-bearing. Bearing the cross for my new friend gave me a tangible picture of what it takes for us to bear the burden of another. I’ll never forget it.

c. Our Lord is a God Who Carries.

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our pains.” (Isaiah 53:4).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11:28).

“Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob. For He says, I removed the burden from their shoulders.” (Psalm 81:1,6).

“In His love and mercy He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.” (Isaiah 63:8-9).

“There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his child.” (Deuteronomy 1:31).

“He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.” (Isaiah 40:11).

d. Is there a counterfeit?  Is there such a thing as false burden-bearing? Is there a point when bearing the other’s burdens becomes unhealthy? Burden-bearing is one aspect of taking the yoke of Jesus upon our shoulders. When we do that, He says that we will find rest, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30). If our burden-bearing becomes spiritually burdensome, overly stressful and too heavy, or obsessive, or is an unwelcome imposition on the burdened; if we sense that we are inviting co-dependency, are becoming spiritually ambitious, or are seen as a busybody; if we are developing a messiah complex, or are subtly assuming to be the savior of the world… Then we need to consider if we are actually bearing the yoke of Christ, or if instead we are bearing a burden for selfish reasons, for our ego, or a good name, to feel less guilty, or to achieve a purpose that is not in line with Jesus, who is “meek and humble of heart.” When we are bearing burdens of others and shouldering the yoke of Christ in the process, it is meant to be costly in a healthy way, and life-giving to both the caregiver and the recipient. Burden-bearing is sacrificial, but not pathological. When it’s not life-giving, it’s time to do some soul-searching and to seek Jesus for wisdom. Burden-bearing is taking upon us the yoke of Christ, who is the Author of life and health.

e. Burden-bearing begins with those closest to us… our spouse, our children, our extended family, our church community, our neighbors in need, in that order. Any father or mother who, through a personal distance or overwork or disdain, doesn’t bear the burdens of those closest to him/her in a personal and profound way, then that person is disobeying Christ. That person will not fulfill the law of Christ. That person does not reflect the heart of God.