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Bearing Other’s Burdens

on January 9, 2014

This past year I learned a lot about fulfilling the law of Christ, or bearing others’ burdens. So much so that I thought I would do a blog post about it. So here it goes.

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Galatians 6:2 tells us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” -NIV or in anther version “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” -ESV.

And this makes sense, even if you’re not a Christian. It’s hard to go through life all by yourself. We need other people, to advise us, encourage us, listen to us complain, or just be there when we hit a rough patch. So why is this fulfilling the law of Christ? What’s so special about this command and what does it look like in everyday life?

Well, I’d say that this command is important because it ties into the golden rule,”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It also connects with Jesus’s teaching about the greatest commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

So bearing others’ burdens is showing them love, and fulfilling the greatest commandment. But what does it actually mean to “bear a burden?” I don’t think God is telling us to go find people who need help moving and start carrying their boxes into the moving truck, or if you’re a student to start carrying other kid’s backpacks at school. Don’t get me wrong helping people can have various applications and maybe actually carrying a heavy object is sometimes what we should do. But I think it boils down to what people get stressed out about.

This past year I’ve had plenty of opportunities to listen to other people talk about their problems, worries, concerns, and stress-filled lives. And I think that sometimes, this is what people really need. They need to know someone cares when they’re having a bad day, or a bad month. And it may not seem like much, but listening to others vent is sometimes all that they really need. In some cases, you might get to go a step further and offer help with whatever is stressing them out, but sometimes the situation cannot be changed, and the best thing to do is listen.

I would like to provide a word of caution though. In my experiences I see that many people in relationships can fall into two roles: The Talker, and The Listener. In a healthy relationship, the two friends can switch roles and be both a listener and a talker. But if the roles never switch, it can easily become one person always bearing the weight of the other person’s problems, without getting to release their own stress. I’ve been in this situation before. Sometimes I felt that my friend’s problems were so huge compared to mine that I didn’t have a right to talk about myself or what I was struggling with. But that’s not true, we all need to bear each others’ burdens (especially in the church). So that means take time to listen and be ready to talk.

Another caution I would add to this is that sometimes when sharing about difficult problems, a friend may ask that it be kept secret. And I believe that is good thing, however, swearing a friend to secrecy and forcing them not to tell anyone, is a bit of a stretch. You don’t want to blab what you know to everyone, but sometimes knowing someone else’s stress, creates stress in your own life, and if you can’t talk about it to anyone because of secrecy, that makes it even worse for you.

Lastly, I want to mention that none of us have to bear our burdens or our friends’ burdens alone. As Christians we can bring all of these burdens to Christ and ask Him to do the heavy lifting. He tells us “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 NIV


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