2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
5 For each one will bear his own load.
“…And thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” We as Christians are no longer under the Law; however, Jesus did give us two commands that sum up the entire Law and show how saints should live. Matthew 22:35-40 tells us, “And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘“YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Bearing one another’s burdens, then, fulfills this law in both ways. Firstly, it shows love for God – it involves us obeying Luke 9:23b (“If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”) in that we endure hardship just as Christ did for us, and it shows love for Him by honoring his creation – assigning them value for the sole fact that He created them and considers them valuable. Secondly, it shows love for others – clearly, by “weep[ing] with those who weep” (Romans 12:15b), and by helping others (1 John 3:17 tells us, “But whoever has the world’s good, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” Also see Matthew 25:35-40).
Verse 3 reminds me of Jesus’s often-repeated teaching, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35b) and Ephesians 5:21, “and [all of us] be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” It is a difficult command to put into practice, to be sure, but a very important one. Here in context, I believe Paul was reminding the Galatians to not let pride get in the way of bearing others’ burdens – we may think we are “too busy” or “too important” to take the time to listen to others, comfort them, give them money, do physical labor for them, etc., but if the God of the universe humbled himself to save us – obstinate, wicked wretches that we are– can we not do the same for our brothers and sisters in Christ?
I love verses 4-5. They tell us that we are certainly allowed to feel accomplished when we do well, so long as we don’t get a big head and think of ourselves as better than others or start to believe that we did it without God’s help. Consider also Romans 4:1-3, “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’” This means that even Abraham – one of the “holiest” men of the Old Testament – had every right to feel accomplished for his success, but he still needed to keep in mind his inferiority to the Lord and his need for His help and forgiveness (see the rest of Romans 4). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We, too, need to constantly keep in perspective God’s supremacy.
Today, then, let’s all try to keep a humble attitude and bear one another’s burdens.
1 – I listed two general ways to bear others’ burdens. Can you think of more – general, and specific?2 – There is a thin line between feeling good and accomplished about our accomplishments, and feeling prideful about them. Can you expound on the difference? What examples can you think of in the Bible and in your own life?