Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Lately, I have been learning a ton about what it means to bear one another’s burdens—not just to bear someone else’s burdens, but to have someone bear yours as well.
The main source of my learning about burden bearing has been my college swim team. With the start of our training coinciding with the beginning of classes and all the additional stress that a new school year brings, we have each brought plenty of burdens to the table. But, I’ve learned, the practice of bearing one another’s burdens is already engrained in a team dynamic.
Bearing one another’s burdens as teammates
The reason that we train as a team and not on our own is because we make each other better. At the end of a practice, I remember what my teammates have said to me far more than what my coaches have said. When you are all fighting through similar things together, it’s easy to sense when someone is falling behind or beginning to break down. When you see a teammate began to fall back, or when you become the one breaking down, the rest of the team is there to pull you back and push you forward.
The beauty and strength of this team dynamic is something that the Church has the power to embrace as well.
Bearing one another’s burdens as Christians
Just like it is poisonous to try to be an athlete on my own strength, so is it also poisonous to try to be a Christian on my own strength. Without my team, and without the Church, I am nothing.
The verses surrounding Galatians 6:2 provide context for what it looks like to bear one another’s burdens.
First, Galatians 6:1 commands those who are spiritual to gently restore those who have been caught up in transgression. This teaches us that, in the Church, bearing another person’s burdens involves restoring those who have fallen into sin, similar to the way in which one of my teammates would help lift me back up if I’ve fallen behind in a workout. Whether they say, “Keep going! You’re almost there!” or something more along the lines of, “You can go faster!” we are meant to help each other be better.
The rest of Galatians 6:1 says, “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” This portion of the verse emphasizes another aspect of bearing one another’s burdens: humility.
Bearing one another’s burdens with humility
Through the act of uplifting my teammates, and even my brothers and sisters in Christ, I am continually reminded of my limits. I need help, just like the person next to me. Rather than allowing my ability to uplift my teammates to make me arrogant and falsely self-sufficient, it ought to remind me of just how much I need other people and how thankful I ought to be to have a team and a Church body surrounding me.
God has given us one another because we are not meant to live this life on our own. In all of the pain and struggle and hardship, God wants his children to build one another up, to love and comfort one another, and to bear one another’s burdens.
What are some ways in which you can help to bear the burdens of those around you today?