To Bear is to Share
I can never make up my mind what the Christian’s response to that verse in the Bible that exhorts us to ‘Bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2 NKJV) really means. Sometimes, I shy away from it—sure that the God only wants my tithe, offerings and castoffs duly donated to the Salvation Army or missionary barrel at church (Who am I kidding? Jesus doesn’t need my junk). After all, I have enough problems of my own and have no desire to take on someone else’s mess (they made it, they can deal with it).
At times I’ve done the opposite (especially when called to be a caregiver). I’ve swooped in with my superhero cape and done my best to fix someone else’s problems using the skills, insights and wisdom God gave me. I confess I’ve felt disgruntled when my rescuee didn’t follow my advice or feel adequately appreciative of my heroic efforts to bear his or her burdens.
But as I grow older, I’m coming to understand the verse better. Sometimes, reading a different translation sheds new light on the text and the entire context of the passage. The Message version says this in Galatians 6:1-3:
“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”
The context explains it all—our position is not superhero or disinterested offering giver. God calls us to position ourselves as fellow travelers. God doesn’t need us to judge or to save. He needs us to reach out to the oppressed. He needs us to share the burdens of our fellow travelers. We don’t carry the burdens (that’s HIS job). We simply share them.God doesn't need us to judge or to save. He needs us to reach out. Click To Tweet
I see this as a call to listen. Our ears should be the first in line for service (with a hand of comfort offered as well). We don’t need to offer advice, try to solve someone else’s problems or offer religious platitudes. We need to listen. Once our fellow traveler shares her burden, we need to offer the four hardest words know to woman, “How can I help?”
And of course, once again, we should listen.God calls us to be burden sharers, not burden snatchers. Click To Tweet