"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
A burden is defined in the dictionary as something that is carried, or as something oppressive or worrisome. When I think of the word burden, I immediately think of the second definition- something oppressive or worrisome. I think of troubles and problems that we all face each and every day. Paul here is giving us a clue to fulfilling the law of Christ- and what is the law of Christ?
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40
Easy enough to understand isn't it? If we carry one another's burdens we will also be fulfilling the commandments that Jesus shared- to love the Lord our God, and our neighbor as ourselves. But is it easy enough to accomplish? That, I think, is a whole other story. It really makes me pause this morning to think on this and think about what it actually means to carry one anothers burdens. I think to many of us, it means that we offer an ear to listen, or that we'll agree with someone in prayer about their situation. But I happen to think that Paul meant something much more literal. I think he literally means for us to carry each others burdens. I think he means for us to take the problems our neighbor is having and place them on our own shoulders for awhile, easing the load on the neighbor.
I can't help but think of the movie The Return of the King. Frodo and Sam have journeyed to the ends of the earth to destroy the ring, and Frodo simply can't go any further. He's wiped out. Sam gives a nice heroic speech, and makes the decision to carry Frodo- literally carrying the burden for Frodo, as well as carrying Frodo. As Christians, maybe we're supposed to be a little more like Sam. Maybe we're supposed to reach down and pick up each others burdens and carry them ourselves- literally making them our burdens as well.
How often do we look at someone else struggling and while we may say some kind words to them, or pray for them, we're really thinking about how glad we are that it's not us going through that. It seems to me that's not how we should be thinking. Instead, we should realize that our brothers and sisters in Christ are just that, and their problems ARE our problems. I talked about oneness yesterday- think of the oneness if we would start bearing each others burdens!
You know, for once, I'm not so sure I'm communicating what is in my heart so effectively this morning. I read this verse and my heart just started leaping, because this is what I have been feeling for a while now. Yes, we have our own problems, our own struggles, but for me, they just have not been important compared to helping other people with their problems. We heard the other day about a friend of ours with car troubles, and my heart instantly went out to them. I was almost in tears as I thought about how there was literally nothing we could do to help them- other than pray about it.
As I'm thinking about this, it also occurs to me that shouldering each others burdens will also help us draw closer to God. Think about it. Think about what it is that distracts you from your worship of God. It's our troubles- our problems that serve as a distraction. We can be at church worshiping corporately and all the sudden you start thinking about how you're going to pay a bill that week, or you start thinking about how you're going to have enough gas to get through the week. If we carried each others burdens, and made each others problems our own problems, those random thoughts wouldn't have a chance to pop up and interfere, because we would know the problems are taken care of.
If we carry one another's burdens we are exercising the very compassion that Christ exercised as he walked upon the earth. It's compassion that drives us to give when there isn't much left to give. This is almost a challenge this morning, because we've been so taught to make our problems our own, and to let other people handle their own problems as well. But I think we need to do the exact opposite. We need to make other people's problems our own, and in doing so, we'll become one step closer to being more Christlike.
Bear one another's burdens... instead of turning a blind eye, let's see if there are some burdens we can help bear. Let's fulfill the law of Christ by moving and acting in compassion.