Mark 12:28-31 (NKJV)28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
To love God with all of our being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves is the law of Christ. Love is to be our motivation. When we recognize the value of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, our response is to be love, gratitude, and obedience. When we understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us and others, our response is to be to follow His example in expressing love to others.
When we bear one another’s burdens we obey the law of Christ and perform good works.
Galatians 6:2 (NKJV) Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The Greek word rendered burden is bareos meaning something that makes an overwhelming demand, that which brings sorrow or grief.
God bears our burdens so that we can in turn bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters.
Psalm 68:19 (NKJV) Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah
The early church did this. To lift the load of poverty, they pooled their resources so that no one was in need.
Acts 4:32 (NKJV) Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
To bear someone’s burden is to really put the love that we say we have for one another into action. It means more that just having sympathy for someone. Sympathy is just an emotion and emotion is not enough. Emotions fail but love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:8 (NKJV) Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
To fulfill the law of Christ is to exhibit the love shown in bearing one anothers burden. It’s the same thought that James had when he said that we show that we have faith by our works.
James 2:18-20 (NKJV)18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
- Sin. The worst burdens are those that are caused by yielding to our desires and sinning.
- Emotional. This is not when we are a perpetrator of sin, but rather when we are the victim of sin. Maybe we have been mistreated, neglected. Maybe it's the result of fear or a grief. Emotional burdens overwhelm us at times. Some are bearing great sorrow, or shame, or loads laid on them by relatives.
- Physical. These may be caused by illness or accident, impairment, or sometimes just by advancing age. There are those overburdened by sickness or old age.
- Financial A financial calamity brought on by a layoff, a medical emergency, a poor investment strategy, Poverty is a burden that we may be able to lighten.
Whatever the cause, bearing the burden means carrying the load until the brother or the sister can walk unburdened on his own again.
Bearing one another's burden begins with us dealing with another person’s sin.
Galatians 6:1 (NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
The burdens we need to help carry for one another include guilt, worry, sorrow, anxiety, and all other similar spiritual and emotional issues. A sinful habit is much more harmful to a person than sickness, or unemployment, or loss of a loved one, or loneliness, or rejection.
If the burden is emotional, you bear it through counsel, hugs, listening and prayers. You may do that day after day after day, as long as that brother or sister carries the burden. If the burden is financial, the burden can be carried by giving your money or other assistance. If it's a physical burden, you bear it through your time, effort, compassion, and energy.
We can give a caregiver a weekend off; make a mortgage payment for a family who is in financial difficulties; sitting with an Alzheimer's patient whose spouse needs to run an errand; just listening to a brother or sister who’s hurting when it's inconvenient (When Serving God Is Inconvenient). The Holy Spirit has given some believers the spiritual gift of mercy by all Christians are called to bear one another's burdens (Motivational Gifts).
5 Tips On How To Bear One Another’s Burdens
- Trust - I we are going to bear another’s burdens in must be in confidence. Others will share things with us that should not be shared unless the brother or sister gives permission to share with others. Unless there is the danger that someone will hurt themselves or others we must hold everything in confidence.
- Transparency - We have to be real with each other. In order to carry another’s burden we must be transparent so they will feel safe to be transparent. We can’t be the kind of person that wants to bear another’s burden and not be transparent with ours. We build with transparency.
- You don’t have to fix it - When we care for someone and want to help them bear their burden we want to try to find the right words and to fix it. Most people just need you to be there to listen to them and lend support as they work through their burden. They want that more than a quick fix.
- Action - After establishing trust, transparency, and listening there may be a need for a practical action; a meal, a check, a referral to counseling, becoming an advocate.
- Discernment (: the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure) - Ask God for direction. Ask the person. Our first thought to help may not be what the person needs. Bearing one another’s burden does not mean taking the burden from them. We are warned about that when helping a fellow believer with sin
Galatians 6:1 (NKJV)1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
You don’t want to become a crutch for someone. For example, if a friend has lost a job you may want to help them financially but you want them to actively do what they need to do to become financially secure. If it is finding employment you want them to actively seek it. Bearing a burden does not need to turn into a co-dependent type of situation. So make sure to prayerfully consider what role God would have you play in bearing your brother or sister’s burdens.
At some time or another, we all struggle under tremendous burdens and some of them are more than we can bear alone. I wrote a post in which I said that God will allow us to experience circumstances that we are not able to bear alone, but He will help you bear it if you’ll only trust in Him (That’s Not In The Bible - God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Bear).
Jesus Is Our Example
Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Since God predestines believers to be conformed to Christ’s likeness, we must imitate His care for and concern for others.
Romans 8:29 (NKJV) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Charles Stanley said in one of his devotions; “A believer cannot wait until his life is clear of obstacles before reaching out to others, since that day may never come. Even though we have our own needs, we can do all things through Christ’s strength—including sharing someone else’s adversity.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
"When someone staggers, we help steady the load. If he is straining, we help bear the burden. And if he stumbles, we lift him up. Helping fellow believers carry the weight of their worldly troubles is one of the chief practical duties that ought to consume every Christian.
When you’re willing to wade into someone else’s troubles to help that person hold up under the weight, two things happen. First, he or she receives desperately needed blessings in the form of aid, support, and love. When we bear one another’s burdens we fulfill God’s command to love a neighbor as yourself."
Mark 12:31 (NKJV) And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Not only this but in bearing one another’s burdens we become witnesses to the world that we are Jesus’ disciples.
John 13:35 (NKJV) By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."