Monday, May 11, 2009

Bearing One Another's Burdens

In yesterday's post about what makes me grateful for my mom, one of the things I mentioned was how she's always been the kind of person that I can count on to be there when I need her. In short, she's always willing to help bear my burden no matter what the burden is. The first time I read in Scripture that this is what real Christians are supposed to do also, I was quite pleased to consider that I'd already had a good example of that in my life from day one.

On this same theme, yesterday in the comment thread of another post my friend Steve posted such a great comment I want to highlight it here so that it doesn't get lost in that thread. Here is the comment:

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness [meekness]. Examining 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." - Galatians 6:1-3

In light of Paul's words above, how do you define these terms:

1. gentleness or meekness

2. examining yourself

3. bear one another's burdens

4. fulfill the law of Christ

5. thinks he is something

I would greatly be interested in your thoughts. And as always, may I encourage you to define them biblically - rather than by personal opinion or experience.

As I considered this question and the points mentioned, I turned to Barnes Notes for this passage and I was so blessed by what I read that I wanted to share that as well. Barnes said it better than I ever could anyway so instead of giving my answers, I will give you his. I do hope it serves you in the same way it did me.

In the spirit of meekness. With a kind, forbearing, and forgiving spirit. Not with anger; not with a lordly and overbearing mind; not with a love of finding others in fault, and with a desire for inflicting the discipline of the church; not with a harsh and unforgiving temper; but with love, and gentleness, and humility, and patience, and with a readiness to forgive when wrong has been done. This is an essential qualification for restoring and recovering an offending brother. No man should attempt to rebuke or admonish another who cannot do it in the spirit of meekness; no man should engage in any way in the work of reform who has not such a temper of mind.

Considering thyself, etc. Remembering how liable you are yourself to err; and how much kindness and indulgence should therefore be shown to others. You are to act as if you felt it possible that you might also be overtaken with a fault; and you should act as you would wish that others should do towards you. The doctrine taught by Paul is, that such is human infirmity, and such the strength of human depravity, that no one knows into what sins he may himself fall. He may be tempted to commit the same sins which he endeavours to amend in others; he may be left to commit even worse sins. If this is the case, we should be tender, while we are firm; forgiving, while we set our faces against evil; prayerful, while we rebuke; and compassionate, when we are compelled to inflict on others the discipline of the church. Every man who has any proper feelings, when he attempts to recover an erring brother, should pray for him and for himself also; and will regard his duty as only half done, and that very imperfectly, if he does not "consider also that he himself may be tempted."

Bear ye one another’s burdens. Bear with each other; help each other in the Divine life. The sense is, that every man has peculiar temptations and easily besetting sins, which constitute a heavy burden. We should aid each other in regard to these, and help one another to overcome them.

And so fulfil the law of Christ. The peculiar law of Christ, requiring us to love one another. This was the distinguishing law of the Redeemer; and they could in no way better fulfil it than by aiding each other in the Divine life. The law of Christ would not allow us to reproach the offender, or to taunt him, or to rejoice in his fall. We should help him to take up his load of infirmities, and sustain him by our counsels, our exhortations, and our prayers. Christians, conscious of their infirmities, have a right to the sympathy and the prayers of their brethren. They should not be east off to a cold and heartless world; a world rejoicing over their fall, and ready to brand them as hypocrites. They should be pressed to the warm bosom of brotherly kindness; and prayer should be made to ascend without ceasing around an erring and a fallen brother. Is this the case in regard to all who bear the Christian name?

For if a man think himself to be something, etc. This is designed, evidently, to be another reason why we should be kind and tender to those who have erred. It is, that even those who are most confident may fall. They who feel secure, and think it impossible that they should sin, are not safe. They may be wholly deceived, and may be nothing, when they have the highest estimate of themselves. They may themselves fall into sin, and have need of all the sympathy and kindness of their brethren.