Sharing Burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:2-5).
Organizing and leading a group campaign is a big job and a great responsibility. The leader is often distracted with group concerns and the logistics of the trip itself, so that he has less opportunity for personal involvement in evangelistic efforts. After one such trip during which we faced several problems, I apologized to the team for the relatively small amount of personal evangelism I had been able to do. I felt badly, because that was the whole point of the trip, and I felt that I had not done my share. One of the team members responded however by saying, “If you had not been here to do what you did, none of us could have done any evangelism. Since you were handling all the travel arrangements and dealing with the problems, we did not worry about those things and were free to work hard in visiting and teaching.” Indeed, we had had a great campaign with many responses and much growth and with the team interacting extremely well together and with local Christians.
Paul’s comments in Galatians 6 seem at first reading to be contradictory. First he says, “Bear one another’s burdens.” But then he says, “Each one shall bear his own load.” Upon reflection, however, we see that there is a balance. We are to be aware of the needs and weaknesses of one another. We often have more than we can handle alone, and when we see a brother or sister in that situation, we are to come to their aid. But that is not to justify irresponsibility. We are not to wait for others to do what we can and should do ourselves. We must not abuse or exploit Christian fellowship by demanding help that is not truly needed. On the other hand, neither should we feel guilt when we are in need of help. It is perfectly acceptable, even desirable, to call on one’s brothers and sisters when we face more than we can handle alone. The only condition is that we be willing to do for others as we have asked them to do for us, when we have opportunity and they have need.
We all find ourselves in both roles from time to time. Sometimes we are overwhelmed and need help. At other times, we have resources and opportunity and can help others. Ideally, we will be as willing to act in one role as the other.
A key concept in both roles is that of teamwork. We are not alone. There is a wonderful fellowship of disciples of Jesus Christ who share time on this earth. We work together to advance his kingdom. We share individual problems and needs together. We worship and praise God together. Whether we are the givers or receivers of a particular act of service, we are part of the team, and the collective result is to the benefit of all and to the glory of God.

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