No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. (Charles Dickens)
My late sister used to say, “A joy shared is twice the joy. A burden shared is half the burden.” Oh how we need burden bearers today!
To Christians in Galatia, Paul wrote:
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (6:2)
Yet a few verses later, Paul said “each one should carry their own load” (6:5). So, which is it Paul? In short, it’s both. The key to this apparent contradiction is understanding the difference between a LOAD (for which we are personally responsible) and a BURDEN (which can be shared).
“Load” in v. 5 is from the Greek, phortíon – which means “a responsibility which must be carried by the individual, i.e. something personal that cannot be shifted to someone else.” For example, I am responsible for my mortgage, to fulfill the duties of my job, to raise and discipline my children, and so on. These are MY responsibilities – the load I’m expected to carry daily.
“Burden” in v.2 is from a different word, baros, which means “weight.” Burdens are the extra, unexpected challenges in life (above and beyond the load described above) that bring additional difficulty to someone’s journey. Perhaps a job loss makes it impossible to make the mortgage payment for a month – fellow Christians can step in and help lift off some of that burden. Or perhaps a couple with a special needs child requires help on occasion so they can get out of the house for a date.
The mortgage and the children remain the LOAD of the original bearers to carry; but the special circumstances become the responsibility of the church to share.
Are you faithfully carrying your personal load? Are you willing to help carry an excessive burden of a brother or sister? –Dave
(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at: http://www.theteachableheart.com/blogs—daily-devotions.html. For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).