“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
The word “burden” is defined as a weight or load. Bearing one another’s weight or load can mean a variety of things. It could mean helping others to pay their bills, find shelter, employment, reconcile with their family etc. In other words we are to get joined with others in their life not just stand far off pointing out or telling them what to do. Sometimes we bear another’s burden because they simply can’t carry it alone. Then there is the burden we carry for them of what God wants for them when they just can’t seem to get there. This is when we go to God on their behalf and by the Spirit pull them through.
This verse tells us bearing one another’s burden is the fulfillment of the “law of Christ.” Hmm? The Law of Christ? We’re not under law are we? No, we are not! The term law means “the way something works.” In other words, when we bear the burdens of others we are operating in the way Christ works. You see, that’s what He does. He bears the burdens of others because that’s His nature. God is love and love is for others, so He came here as a man in order to bear our burdens. He even invited us to come to Him for rest and said, “Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He didn’t say it wasn’t painful though did He?
Way back in the 28th chapter of Exodus God instructed Moses to design the priestly robes to be worn in the Tabernacle. One aspect, a very important aspect I might add, to the Priest’s garment was the ephod. The ephod consisted of a breastpiece and shoulder pieces. God told Moses to put an onyx stone on each shoulder piece with the names of six of the tribes of Israel on each stone. Then he was to place twelve individual stones on the breastpiece to represent each tribe. So each tribe had their own stone and the priest was to carry the whole nation before God on his shoulders and over his heart. What a great illustration of intercession and bearing one another’s burdens.
In my own life I have experienced a burden for a few people to come to know the Lord, or maybe for those that do know to realize who Christ is in them. Either way I have discovered bearing another’s burden is not a fun thing to do. In fact it can be excruciating. But I do know that this is God’s will for his children. He wants His children to grow up and participate in what He is doing in the world. Just as the Old Covenant priest’s were meant to stand in the gap for others before God, we too are called to the same. In a word, the work of a priest is intercession. A priest is one who goes before God on behalf of another, maybe even one who doesn’t know or understand.
While the job of priest may sound at first like something joyful and something you would want to do it can be very frustrating and tiring. Even though as a believer we want others to come to Christ, most of the time we don’t want it to cost us anything. We would rather just point people to Christ and the work of the cross and that’s a good thing but what about getting in the intercession with him? The Apostle Paul told the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” Wow! So there is a part that is our share. Of course this has absolutely nothing to do with the forgiveness of sins or our being born again rather it is about us joining in the role of priest as a co-intercessor. The Spirit of God does the work but He does it in and through our bodies for His body the church.
One of the most memorable times of intercession for me started with me becoming extremely agitated with someone. It seemed I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and how their life was in a mess, and they just seemed to keep on as if it didn’t matter. In fact it seemed they just dug the hole deeper and deeper. Of course we all have our own story of trying to run our lives ourselves, rather than letting Christ be our life, but for some reason this person bothered me more than others. Everyday I found myself praying for God to put a guard over my mouth so I wouldn’t go off on them and believe me I wanted to. As the time went by and the agitation never seemed to end I found myself praying for them. After all, I am a believer, filled with God’s Spirit, told to love my neighbor, right? Of course the prayers at first were all about me wanting to know what to do but at some point they changed to I know you want more for them God.
During this time I really had no Idea what God was doing but I know I prayed and prayed even more. Now looking back I can see this is what God was after all along. He wanted me to stand for this person and pray for God to pull them through and He did. One day they came to me and asked, “When is your Bible study?” I was floored. Shortly after that they came to me with tears in their eyes and told me “I’m ready. I’ve finally come to the end.” My response was, “You don’t know how long I have been praying for you.”
Since this time things have completely changed. Now I enjoy their friendship and they regularly attend our Bible study and go to a church of their own on Sundays. Even now what was really going on during those painfully stressful months is becoming clearer to me. So I guess if there is anything I would like for the reader to take away from this is that as believers we are called to bear one another’s burdens and it may start as being extremely frustrated at first. I don’t know about you but I didn’t see that in the beginning but you know God will get our attention one way or the other. I for one am thankful that He didn’t let me off the hook on this because now I am rejoicing and getting to watch God transform others in the same way He did me. That’s what bearing one another’s burdens is all about.