How Do We Carry Each Others’ Burdens?

“Carry each other’s burdens.” (Galatians 6:2)
We All Carry A Burden

If you are human, you have a burden.  Are you in a relationship where you feel obligated to deliver or perform for approval or acceptance?  That’s a burden.  Do you have credit card debt?  That’s a burden.  Do you bear the weight of poor decisions made in your past which prevent you from experiencing joy or peace today?  That is a burden.  Are you weary from the day to day demands of parenthood or work or school?  That’s a burden.  Does worry for your future or that of your loved ones hang over your head like a dark cloud?  That’s a burden.

God sent Jesus so we could live in freedom.  He doesn’t want us weighed down by the cares of the world and the pain of the past (or present).  David, the psalmist, encourages us in Psalm 43:5 (ESV):  “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”  But, when the load becomes too burdensome to bear and too heavy to cast off, we need our community to step up and lend a hand.

Moses vs Amalek

Are you familiar with the story of Moses and the battle against the Amalekites in Exodus 17:8-13? As long as Moses kept his hands raised, the Israelites would prevail, but when his hands lowered, the enemy would prevail.  All day, the battle raged on.  Have you ever tried to hold your arms out from your sides for an extended period of time?  It’s not easy.

When I was in high school, we had a competition in our youth group to see who could hold two gallons (the girls only had to hold half-gallons) of water out from our sides the longest.  I was the first girl to participate, and I was determined to win.  I made it  for two minutes, fourteen seconds.  I won(!), along with my friend Rachael, who matched my time (she was determined to win, too).  We were each awarded a large candy bar, if I remember correctly.  Ironically, I’ve always considered myself to be a physically strong female because of that achievement.

Even without gallon jugs in his hands, Moses’ arms grew tired and began to droop as the battle raged on.  They became a burden too heavy for him to bear, even with the additional burden of knowing his defeat meant the defeat of his people.  Can you feel the ache, the burn of his taut muscles-  and the burden of responsibility to his people?

Even though Moses could no longer hold his arms up under the strain, the Israelites didn’t lose the battle.  How was this possible?  Because his brother Aaron and his good friend Hur stood by his side that fateful day.  When Moses’ arms quivered in exhaustion and began to sag, they provided a stone for him to sit on, and each man took one of Moses’ arms in their own and held it up for him.  They carried his burden when he no longer could, and the Israelites won the victory over the Amalekites that day.

moses arms held up

Sound the S.O.S.

What battle are you bearing up under?  What care is so heavy, you are bowed down beneath it’s weight?  Call out for help!  It’s okay to ask for help.  It’s not easy, I know, but it’s okay.  Surround yourself with friends who know you, who can tell when you are overwhelmed or depressed.  Give them the opportunity to serve God by lifting your load for you until you are strong enough to carry it again.

Are you that friend?  Who do you know that has lost a spouse or child and is carrying a burden of grief?  Do you have a friend who just lost a job or is buried under a load of schoolwork or office work, along with a host of other commitments?  We can’t always carry the physical load itself (ie: that large term paper due at the end of the week), but we can carry the mental or emotional burden for another through prayer (and I mean the kind of prayer that shows up at their doorstep, takes their hand in yours, and speaks life and hope over them.)

There are practical ways to carry each others’ burdens, as well.  I have a free resource available entitled, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Carrying One Another’s Burdens (you’ll see the sign-up box slide in on this page), where I offer a variety of ways we can carry each others’ burdens.  Be sure to sign up to receive this useful guide.

Two Words of Caution

After I began this post, I glanced back at the theme verse, Galatians 6:2, in context to gain further insight and became concerned.  I’d like to close with a brief look at the surrounding verses and offer a word of caution in our efforts to bear each others’ burdens.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Much of the surrounding text, including the end of chapter five, deals with living according to the spirit and the struggle with sin.  I see two things worth noting:  1) We are not to carry the burden of sin for each other.  If a friend is caught in sin, we are to “gently restore them.”  We are not to condone or fall into the same sin out of concern.  2) We are no better than the other members of our community.  As I said in the beginning, we all carry burdens; none of us are above the temptation to sin or the weight of human cares.  When we come to bear our friend’s burden, we must approach with humility, knowing that we also carry our own load.

Beauty of Community

True community is a hard and holy thing, as I mentioned in my first post, but it is beautiful to behold.

What can you do today to carry another’s burden?  If you would like some practical ideas, don’t forget to sign up for my free resource, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Carrying One Another’s Burdens.  But always, begin and end with prayer.  When we give our burdens to Jesus, He offers us something of infinite value in return:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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)

 

(Featured photo credit: http://www.resurrectionchapel.tv)

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