Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lifting burdens - Galatians 6:2-5

"Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load." (Galatians 6:2-5)
What I find interesting about the law of Christ is that it is not written down anywhere. Unlike the law of Moses, there is no place where you can go to find the exact details, requirements, and judgments that make up the law of Christ. That is because the law of Christ is not an external law but an internal one. Towards the end of the first covenant, God began speaking of a new covenant saying, "'But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the Lord, 'I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'" (Jeremiah 31:33) And Paul concurs that this promise has come true, that God's law has now been written on our hearts. "You are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (2 Corinthians 3:3) The law of Christ is something we know within ourselves, by the Spirit of God, and in relationship with Jesus.

In the Greek, the words for "burden" and "bear" are believed to come form the same root meaning "weight". The idea of bearing someone's burden implies the lifting up of that burden and the enduring underneath its weight along side its owner. This is the opposite of what Jesus noticed the Pharisees doing, "They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger." (Matthew 23:4) Part of living in community is learning not to be so self-absorbed. We need to be open to seeing the needs and burdens of others, those things that have them weighed down, and to be willing to lift those burdens in what ever way we are able. In some cases that may be financial in others it may be by offering aid and assistance. Paul tells us that, "God has so composed the body... that the members may have the same care for one another." (1 Corinthians 12:24-25) At times, we may be the ones in need, at other times, we may have what is needed. Either way, we are called to lessen the load for our fellow brothers and sisters in what ever way we can.

Sometimes, we can have pride by association. We are prideful of how our church helps the poor, sends our missions, and provides all kinds of services for the community around us. However, our pride is in what others are doing rather than what we personally are doing. In the end, Jesus words, "for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink" (Matthew 25:42) will be spoken to individuals and not churches. We will all have to give an account for what we did in this life; in our life and not that of another. Paul says that we all have our own burden to bear, but here he is referring to our calling and purpose in God. This Greek word means "an invoice" or a job that is given to us by God. There are some burdens that we can carry for each other, but there are some jobs that we must do ourselves. In the end, what matters is what we have done, not what others have done. We cannot live off the shirttails of others, we must go and do what God has given us to do.

David Robison

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