“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
What is the Law of Christ? Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.” James calls this the, “Royal Law” (James 2:8).
In the purest sense of the word, Jesus became our burden bearer when He went to the Cross. Of Him, Isaiah said, “Surely our grief’s He Himself bore and our sorrows He carried” (Isa. 53:4).
In a sense we are called to do the same for others. We find a wonderful example of this in Exodus 17. “Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose men for us, and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ And Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Ex. 17:8-13).
Hebrews 12:12-13 exhorts us to, “…strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble…”
In many ways we can bear one another’s burdens. We bear one another’s burdens when we pray for one another. At other times God may call on us to help bear the material burden of a brother or sister. We can see this in the following passages.
Proverbs 3:27-28 advises us, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.”
James 2:14-17 explains the relation between faith and works. “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
John wrote, “But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).
Recently someone told me of a man who always kept money tucked away in his wallet for a child who might need a pair of new shoes. The person who told me the story said that as long as they knew the man, no child in their church ever went without shoes. What a ministry!
Maybe God will call us to bear someone’s burden of loneliness. Or we could bear the burden of a young couple who can’t afford a babysitter and night out together, by volunteering to watch their children for them. Burden bearing might be as practical as helping the elderly or a shut-in with some chores around their house, stacking firewood, shoveling snow, house repairs, etc.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Laying down one’s life for a friend does not necessarily mean dying for another. Laying down one’s life can be just the willingness to set aside some time, set aside your interests or your own needs, that you might bear the burden of another.
Would you be willing to pray and ask God for a heart that is more sensitive, ears that will hear, eyes that will see, the need that surrounds you so that you might become His vessel, willing to bear the burden of another?
Of the early church in Jerusalem, Acts 4:34 says, “For there was not a needy person among them…” The same should be said of us and could be said of us, if we will be willing to let God open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to the needs of the brothers and sisters around us.