Bear One Another’s Burdens
To what extent are we to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2)? Does this verse teach humility (v. 3)? Does this verse teach us to still bear others’ burdens when they are the result of the person’s transgression (v. 1)? If yes, we have a great need for love and humility when carrying out this command.
The father in the parable of the prodigal son unhesitatingly and compassionately took back his wayward yet penitent son and comforted him (Luke 15:20-32). When we do the same, we help bear that person’s burdens.
God providentially both blesses and corrects the unjust (Matt. 5:45; Ps. 119:67). In like manner, we bear the burdens of the one who is overtaken in transgression by no only correcting them (v. 1), but also by patiently comforting and encouraging them (v. 10: cf. 1 Thess. 5:11, 14-15). Doing so requries much love for the one caught in transgression and for our brethren and fellow man in general (1 John 3:11, 14, 16-17).
The one who limits their interaction with a brother or sister caught in transgression to nothing more than correction or gossip loves themselves only…but not their brethren and certainly not God!!
To love others and help them shoulder their burdens requires much humility, a willingness to recognize that we are sinners who need each other’s help also (cf. Matt. 7:12), exactly what Galatians 6:3 is talking about.
Also, note that “bear one another’s burdens“ (Gal. 6:2) is baros in the Greek, which Thayer defines as “heaviness, weight, burden, trouble.” Yet, “for each will have to bear his own load“ (Gal. 6:5) is phortion in the Greek, which Strong defines as “a burden which must be carried by the individual, i.e. as something personal and hence is not transferrable, i.e. it cannot ‘be shifted’ to someone else.”
Thus, Christians must bear each other’s sorrows over sins and misfortunes (Gal. 6:2)…yet each of us must still bear and fulfill our own individual responsibilities (Gal. 6:5). Balance is required (Matt. 23:23). We must never try to completely take the problems of another away from them or shoulder all of their responsibilities. It can’t be done, and trying to do it will hinder them from becoming stronger (Heb. 12:5-11). Yet we must also not have the mindset of “They laid their bed, now let them sleep in it!”, an attitude that joyfully takes heart in their hardships and selfishly refuses to try to help.
There also comes a time to walk away, yet with love (Tit. 3:10-11; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15).