The Burden and The Load

Galatians 6_2_The Burden and the Load

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

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About The Teachable Heart

A Teachable Heart, as described in Mark 4:20, is 'good soil' that hears and understands God's Word, accepts it as His revealed truth, and applies it to produce fruit. Learn more about the ministry at:
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