Galatians 6:2,5 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…For each will have to bear his own load.
At first glance, the closing chapter of Galatians reads like one of those odd fortune cookies you get at a Chinese restaurant that you cannot make any sense of. The Spirit through Paul, speaking to the church, says we should bear burdens for one another, and bear our burdens for ourselves rather than burdening others.
Which is it?
The confusion is due, in part, to the fact that the original language (Greek) of these verses has two nuanced words that are less clear in our English translations.
Loads are those life responsibilities that we must carry by ourselves and not unnecessarily burden other people with, because God expects us to be self-sufficient in these areas (i.e. it’s your responsibility to get up for work each day, balance your checkbook, pay your bills, read your Bible, etc.).
Burdens are those life responsibilities that are so overwhelming that we cannot carry them alone and need the help of our friends in the church (i.e. a serious illness, death of a spouse, catastrophe etc.). If you fail to distinguish between these categories you may treat everything in your life as a burden and expect the church to run to your aid every time you have a tough day and thereby become a burden to them, or treat everything as a load and never lean upon your church friends because you don’t want to be a burden to anyone.
What is needed is discernment so that we lean on others when there is real need, and others lean on us when they have real need. Otherwise, what happens is that under the false guise of love, irresponsible people seek to shift the burden of their responsibilities to the overly responsible people in the church. The result is that the irresponsible people are immature, codependent, and exhausting to the overly responsible people who then don’t have the time, energy, or money to help the truly needy people with burdens too big to carry alone.
Do you lean toward being irresponsible or overly responsible?