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Bear One Another's Burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

When a young boy, my family crossed the country on old Highway 30, traveling from Southern Idaho to upstate New York and back. Near Omaha, Nebraska, we passed Father Flanigan’s Boy’s Town, which was marked by a sign with the picture that is attached to this article. The image was branded into my young mind and the caption has lived there for nearly sixty years, “He ain’t heavy father, he’s, my brother.”

This picture and its caption epitomize Galatians 6:2, the call for us to bear one another’s burdens. This is a call to come along side of one who has had the rug pulled out from under them. Through no fault of their own the roof has caved in, and the floor has fallen through. It is like being caught in an avalanche and your only hope is that others will dig you out of the snow. This person has been overwhelmed by a sudden and unexpected change of their lives. Their only hope is that others will come along and assist them in their crisis.

A few verses later we read these words from Galatians 6:5, “For each one must bear his own load.” The word load in this verse is akin to a backpack. What is being contrasted here is the burden that is a catastrophic and sudden crisis as opposed to one’s legitimate responsibilities in life. There are some loads that we are called to bear ourselves as responsible individuals.

This verse would preclude one who is lazy and content to let others care for them. The Bible condemns laziness. The apostle Paul spoke the following words to the church at Thessalonica, “For when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting as busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in a quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (II Thessalonians 3:10-12).

So, when we see someone with a legitimate need, we are called to help bear their burden. When we see someone who is lazy and unwilling to work, we are called to speak a word of correction into their life.

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