Devotional

Bear One Another’s Burdens

So, it happened! Someone in your church “fell into sin.” They committed one of those BIG, PUBLIC SINS and everyone knows about it. People are shocked, disappointed, and even angry. The church members begin to whisper about it. There is chatter about how no one can believe this person fell, or maybe they are not surprised because they always knew this person was “like that.” People ask for prayer for the fallen one. (Because everyone knows it’s not gossip if information is shared in the form of a prayer request.)

This sin must be swiftly and firmly dealt with. After all, we can’t allow THAT kind of person in our church. We force the sinner to take their walk of shame to the pulpit in order to publicly apologize for their transgression. If they are reluctant to repent, then we must immediately excommunicate them!

Once the appropriate action is taken, the church people breath a collective sigh of relief. It is over. Done. Now everyone can go on with their lives knowing the sinner has received his due. We feel slightly self-righteous because we know we would never do such a thing, and we have smugly taken care of the one who would.

But What About Bearing One Another’s Burdens?

Wait! What? Isn’t that for feeding the poor and helping the orphans and widows? Doesn’t that mean taking meals to the sick and giving money to the less fortunate?

Let’s look at that verse in context and see what it means.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

Galatians 6:1-5 (ESV)

Whose Burdens Should We Bear?

Sinners! We are to bear the burden of sinners! Gasp! This means we are expected to help a person who really messed up! This person probably hurt their testimony, hurt the testimony of the church, and negatively affected their own life and the lives of others in some way. In fact, this person is likely dealing with a secret sin – something they just can’t overcome on their own, something they do not want others to know about.

They need you, fellow Christians, to walk along beside them. They need you to bear part of their load and accompany them through the muck and mire; to see them through to the other side; to grieve over their sins and rejoice in their victories!

Who is supposed to Bear the Burdens?

You who are spiritual. Not you who are perfect, because there is no such person. Not you who are self-righteous, because you are hypocrites. You who are spiritual. The spiritual person is humble, recognizing his own sin, and recognizing his own need for mercy and forgiveness. He loves his neighbor as himself as Jesus taught in the gospels. He searches his own sinful heart before trying to help others with theirs.

What is the Purpose?

The purpose is restoration – to bring the sinner back into a right standing before God and the church. We should work toward their repentance and restoration into the fellowship of believers.

When a person falls into sin, our purpose should not be to manufacture an emotional apology or be quick to kick them out of the congregation. Our purpose should be to restore them to fellowship. We do this by holding them accountable and requiring repentance. However, we also do this by being there for them, loving them, and helping them pick up the broken pieces left in the wake of their sin.

How?

We are to do it with a spirit of gentleness. We are not to be harsh and unkind. Our job is not to remind them of how bad they are – they already know that. Our purpose is to restore, to help bear their burdens. We should be loving, encouraging, sharing scripture, praying, giving practical help, and just being a friend.

The Dangers

Yes, there is danger in bearing another’s burden. Have you ever been walking with a friend on a snowy, icy sidewalk? As you are walking and talking, your friend suddenly looses her footing. She begins yelling and flailing, reaching for you in order to steady herself. In a panic, you grab onto her and you also lose your footing. Both of you go tumbling onto the sidewalk in a heap, screaming, laughing, and rubbing your bruises.

This is exactly what can happen if you are not careful when walking alongside a friend struggling in sin. If you are not careful, you can get pulled down with them.

Just like trying to help your friend on the icy sidewalk, if your footing isn’t secure, you won’t be much use in helping her. You must be sure you are rooted and grounded in the Word, that you are walking in the Spirit, and keeping your own sin confessed. Satan would like nothing better than to trip you up with pride and self-righteousness while you are trying to help someone else overcome their own sin.

As Galatians 6:1 states, “keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

Additional Warnings

Galatians 6:3 goes on to warn us, “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

It is tempting to watch someone fall into sin and think we are better than that. We like to see ourselves as holier-than-thou — the person who would never do something like that. We feel compelled to gossip, post on social media, share information under the guise of prayer requests, and wax eloquent about what surely caused this person to sin like that.

Why are we so quick to point out another’s sin? Are we really just asking the world to notice how good we are? The Bible says we are deceiving ourselves when we do that.

Test Your Own Work

Galatians 6:4 says, “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.”

In other words, “Let your actions speak for themselves.” Let your righteous actions prove your righteousness. Trying to prove yourself by pointing out the faults of another is a dangerous exercise in comparisons. It shows the sinfulness of pride in your own heart.

Final Thoughts

The Bible is filled with verses that teach us to love, forgive, and restore. Sometimes these concepts sound much easier than they are. Our pride and hurt feelings get in the way of our obedience in these areas. Being a Christian and a church member doesn’t make it any easier. Yet, without love and forgiveness, there is no desire to bear one another’s burdens.

Some things we should consider as fellow Christians are these:

  1. We are all sinners. – Romans 3:23
  2. We are commanded to forgive. – Ephesians 4:32
  3. The Bible teaches us to love one another. – 1 John 4:7
  4. We should treat others as we want to be treated – Matthew 7:12

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us consider if we are truly bearing one another’s burdens in the way that God intended. And if we think we already are, is there any way we can do better?

Wife, mom, grandma, and country girl. I am living by faith and encouraging others to do the same. I integrate faith, family and country living.

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