Part of being a Christian husband or wife, a Christian son or daughter, a Christian American citizen, a Christian resident in your neighborhood, a Christian friend, and a member of the universal and local church is to be involved in other people’s lives, and for others to be involved in yours. If you are even a moderately healthy believer, you recognize the spiritual needs of believers around you and want to help them grow. Scripture validates this desire. Galatians 6:1 says that there are specific situations where qualified believers are instructed to step up and restore a fallen brother.
The following verses of Galatians 6, however, teach that there is a prerequisite to restoring others. Just desiring to help is not enough. “Every man,” God says, must “prove his own work” (v. 4) and “bear his own burden” (v. 5). This “burden” is a different word from the heavy, oppressive “burden” of stumbling and sinning in verse 2. No, the burden of verse 5 refers to the working man’s burden: the tools he carries in his truck, or the bales of hay he loads, or his ladder, his equipment trailer, or his office computer. Just like the loads of laundry, the trips with a wheelbarrow, and the miles on the family van constitutes the “burden” of normal life duty, the word “burden” in Galatians 6:5 communicates the normal burdens of Christian duty.
What God says in Galatians 6:4-5 is that taking responsibility for our relationship with God and others is the proving ground that demonstrates whether we are qualified to help others bear burdens of restoration. The burdens of Christian duty are the sole responsibility of the believing husband, wife, student, and employee. If we “prove [our] own work,” that is, demonstrate that we are putting in the effort to fulfill God’s everyday calling on our lives, we are fit to help others. If we are not assuming our own burden, then we have no business helping others fulfill theirs.
In verse 1, God calls people who are faithfully bearing their own burdens those “that are spiritual.” This term is helpful, because if we turn back to Galatians 5:22-25, we see spirituality described. Spiritual people belong to Christ (5:24), show the fruit of the Spirit in their actions (5:22-23), and have victory over the sinful desires of the flesh (5:24). These behaviors are their “walk,” the pattern of their lives (5:25). If these attributes seem disconnected from the previous command to bear the normal burdens of Christian duty, remember that it is in the normal circumstances of life, and in our various leadership, peer, and follower callings that the fruit of the Spirit and victory are either developed or not. We demonstrate whether we are bearing our burdens when we apply the general requirements of masculine or feminine, adult or adolescent duty to the circumstances of life.
To be spiritual according to God’s standard may seem daunting. It is. However, remember two things. First, if you are a believer, you “are Christ’s” (5:24) and you “live in the Sprit” (5:25). We obey, and He grows the fruit. Second, Galatians 6:1 reminds us that spiritual, responsible, qualified people understand they have not arrived. Instead, they understand and obey the command of “considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” They stay vigilant, remain humble, and understand that apart from God’s help they are nothing (6:3).
Shouldering responsibility, submitting to spiritual development, and remaining humble: this is what it means to bear your own burden in Christ. If we grow in these disciplines, we will be ready to help others.
The above article was written by Jonathan Kyser. He is an assistant pastor at NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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