Monday, November 10, 2008

Bear a Burden

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on 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. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Galatians 6:1-5
I have been thinking of this section of Scripture for a week or so. There is a lot of stuff packed into it.

If anyone is caught in a transgression…. Interesting language here, it doesn’t mean someone was busted and it’s not talking of someone premeditating sin. Here’s what it means – to be surprised by, invaded, taken before he is aware, seized without warning. My brother has been captured and he needs help. He can’t get free by himself. If I’m spiritual I need to help him. If I’m weak I better stay away so I don’t get caught up in it myself. I must keep an eye on myself so that doesn’t happen. If I help him, he needs gentleness. I need to help bear his burden, help him get untangled and not put more weight on his back.

A second part is directed to the person who has some arrogance in their attitude. The person who thinks he is something. Have you ever been “helped” by someone like that? They are so spiritual and so disappointed in your weakness. Here is what the People’s New Testament Commentary says: Instead of commenting upon the weaknesses of others, let him test his own work. If his work stands the test, there he can rejoice in it alone, not because he is superior to another. If we honestly examine ourselves, we will see we have little room to look down our nose at others. We have failures too.

The last part is an exhortation that there is a load that each of us must bear alone. Here is what Vincent’s Word Studies says: Paul means, no one will have occasion to claim moral superiority to his neighbor, for each man's self-examination will reveal infirmities enough of his own, even though they may not be the same as those of his neighbor. His own burdens will absorb his whole attention, and will leave him no time to compare himself with others.

It can be hard to bear the burden of others. It’s easy to be discouraged with their progress. Many times we think they should be moving along quicker than they are. God in His perfection could look at all of us that way but He doesn’t. He continues to provide encouragement and power to overcome.

Another lesson is that we need each other. Sometimes God won’t let me be victorious by myself. He wants me to be connected with my brothers as we learn to help and receive help. That’s the kind of community we need.

Philip

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