Bearing Other's Burdens


Recently, my two year old son was helping me feed our pigs as we do every evening. This particular evening, he insisted on carrying the bucket of pig feed from the barn to the pigs' pen. The bucket we were using held maybe five pounds of pig food - not much for an adult to carry, but probably heavy for a two year old. 
He struggled with the weight of the bucket that day, but I knew better than to make him give it to me to carry. This particular preschooler has a bit of the "I-can-do-its", a syndrome common to two year olds, and only made worse by anyone suggesting that its okay if they can not, in fact, do it. I walked along beside him carrying nothing. 
About halfway to the pen, my son got tired of struggling with the bucket. He looked at me and said, "Mama, you carry it." I did. And it was no big deal. But then he did the sweetest thing. He held his dirty, pudgy little hand up and said, "Mama hold hands?" This made my heart flutter, realizing that God was dropping a word into my heart as we walked hand in hand, carrying the bucket that burdened my boy but was no problem for me. 


In Galatians 6:2, Paul says, "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." But then just 3 verses later, he tells them that "each one must bear his own load." Knowing that Scripture doesn't contradict itself, these verses make me ask myself two questions - what is the difference between a burden and a load, and what is the law of Christ? 

The word translated into "burden" here can also be defined as an extra heavy load. These represent the extra troubles and problems and difficulties that come up in our lives.  Paul, who also said that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, is affirming that life can get burdensome. People disappoint you. Money gets tight. Temptations come. Life hands you lemons and you can't seem to find the sugar to make lemonade.
Paul has been challenging the Galatians in the previous verses to live and walk by the Spirit, treating any of their brothers who trespass the Mosaic law with gentleness and producing fruits of the Spirit. When we see someone buckling under the weight of an extra burden, it isn't our job to cast stones at them. It is our job to help them in that burden, realizing that we've all created too heavy of a burden of sin for ourselves, which Christ took upon Himself. 

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)

So what is a load? This is the work that God has placed before each of us - our purpose, our calling. Believers are obligated to fulfill routine obligations - those that aren't difficult for us. And we're also called to grow in our walk and be fruitful. Just as we grow from infants to adults without any real intention, this spiritual growth also happens if we are carrying our "spiritual load", so to speak. (Refer to 2 Corinthians 5:10 to confirm that our works [load] matter - not for salvation, but for eternal reward.) So while a burden is a difficult, extra heavy load, a regular, routine load has no implication of difficulty. 
What then is this law of Christ that we fulfill by bearing our own load and helping to bear the burden of others? It is the law of love. We love them as Christ loves us and as He loves them. We take their burden and then take their hand and walk with them, just as my son and I walked to the pig pen that day. 
Sisters, let us look around as we grow in our walk - not to judge where others are or why they're going through whatever it is that's burdening them; but to lift up that burden that is crippling to them but may seem light to us. And in this burden-removal, may they see our Jesus and how lovingly He gives us His easy yoke. 

Father, we praise You for taking our heavy yokes of sin and shame and laying them upon Your Son on the cross. We glorify You now, by walking by the Spirit to bear the burdens of those You put in our path, and thereby bearing our load on this earth. We lay it all at Your feet and trust You with it. Amen.

Carol Hines