Click for a printable version of this post.
Scripture for Sunday, May 21: Galatians 6:1-10
"Carry each others' burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." --Gal. 6:2
Throughout Galatians, Paul goes to great lengths to debunk the myth of self-made righteousness. He minces no words characterizing the "teachers" who had disrupted the Galatian church, and he pleads with these new believers not to fall into the trap of believing that they needed "Jesus-and...." "Jesus-and-the-law-of-Moses." "Jesus-and-circumcision."
The problem with self-made righteousness--besides the fact that it can't ultimately make us right with God--is that checking the right boxes can foster spiritual pride. It becomes very possible to think too highly of our own life of faith while judging the sins and failures of others from a distance.
Paul will have none of it. There's no room for spiritual pride in a divine economy of grace. He tells the believers to restore brothers and sisters caught in sin "gently," watching out that they are not tempted to think too much of themselves in the process. And he calls the Galatian believers to carry one another's burdens--fulfilling not the law of Moses, but the law of Christ.
Unlike judging from afar, carrying each other's burdens can't be done pridefully or from a distance. It requires getting close enough to shoulder a burden together. It means listening to understand, not formulating our response as we listen. It also means having the humility to let others in on our struggles--asking them to shoulder our burdens.
Sometimes asking for help with our own burdens is harder.
Paul goes on to say that "each one should carry their own load"--the unique call that God has placed on each life to represent him daily. Together we carry burdens; individually we plant seeds of God's love in our own Spirit-appointed ways, expecting a God-grown "harvest if we do not give up."
1. Whom might you be most prone to judge from afar?
2. Is it easier for you to be the person who carries someone else's burden; or the person who asks for help? Identify and thank God today for people who have walked alongside and carried burdens with you.
3. Given your own personality, gifts, and season of life, what is one way that you are currently "planting seeds"; or one way that God might be leading you to plant?