Bear one another’s burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ.
We’re all carrying heavy loads.
God does not intend for us to bear them alone.
We’re supposed to help each other carry them.
But this can go wrong in several ways.
1. Sometimes we do the opposite.
Instead of coming alongside and lightening the load of a brother or sister, we pile on more weight. We view their difficulty as a result of their sin and cast blame. We judge their hearts without stopping to try to understand their situation. We tell them they just need to give their burdens to Jesus, getting us off the hook from entering into their messiness.
2. Sometimes we don’t know.
We get pretty good at carrying our burdens — so good, in fact, that nobody is aware of the weight we’re under. We don’t want to “bother” people with our issues. We are private about the things that weigh us down, and besides, we don’t want to be perceived as weak and needy. After a while, those hidden burdens begin to define us and we get comfortable hauling all that excess baggage. We’re not even aware that our prickly, surly exterior is because we’re shouldering our desperate, encumbered interior alone.
3. Sometimes we take over.
We can swing toward the other extreme by trying to fix people. In an effort to “help”, we can singlehandedly take on someone as our “project” and put them wholly on our backs. But we’re supposed to carry one another’s burdens, not carry one another. The burnout that follows is a result of going beyond the intended role of supporter and encourager. We don’t make very good saviors.
4. Sometimes we miss the point.
Helping someone else through a difficult season may seem overwhelming if we’re barely managing our own load. This is meant to be reciprocal. We carry each other’s burdens. Taking our eyes off our own troubles for a bit can be a relief, as long we are open enough to let others give us a lift. Together we can take the things that weigh us down to the One who said,
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
It’s a simple command to obey.
Look for a brother or a sister with a burden,
and help them with it.
It doesn’t have to be complicated.
It doesn’t take a committee or a program.
Just look for a burden to bear and offer a hand.
Dear Jesus, thank You for carrying my burden of sin to the cross. Thank You that I can come to You with any earthly burden that comes my way. Thank You for brothers and sisters who stand ready to give me a lift when I am weighed down. Help me not to be greedy with my troubles, but to learn to share them with my friends. Help us to bear one another’s burdens, and in doing so, make good on Your good law.
*Part eleven in a series on “The One Anothers”