Galatians 6 – Bear Each other’s Burdens

Galatians 6:1-2 – Verse 2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I’ve long thought of this, and heard it taught I believe, that this means that we should work with each other through hard times, helping others work through hard ‘stuff’. Job loss, family loss, depression, etc. But Paul states this in the context of someone being caught in sin. They aren’t working through it, they are caught doing it. What burdens does someone in that circumstance bear? Guilt. Shame. Fear. So this then is what we bear with them. We stand with them, not ashamed of them, bearing their shame and guilt so that they need not bear it alone. This enables them to stand, to move on, to heal. They know they are accepted, in fact, in this way we demonstrate the truth of Christ’s acceptance of them, reminding them of whom they belong.
Thinking of it in this way reminds me of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery. The pharisees and teachers were ready to toss her aside, but Jesus stood with her. Instead of joining them in their accusation, he crossed over to be with her and she was not alone facing her accusers.
When we bear our brothers burdens of sin, we do the same. We stand with him in the face of Satan the accuser, and he is reminded that he is not alone. Of course, Jesus is always there, but when we are caught Jesus can be hard to see. If we stand with him, he is enabled to see Jesus in us.
Galatians 6:3-5 – Verse 5 says, “For each will have to bear his own load.” Given what I just wrote (which I stand by), I honestly don’t know how to put verses 3-5 in context with 1-2. Is Paul being sarcastic? Doesn’t seem to be. Any thoughts?
Galatians 6:7-10 – Paul talks throughout Galatians, and the New Testament, about works vs. faith, slavery vs. freedom. But here he points out that our actions, our ‘works’, are not for nothing. We do reap what we sow. Not that we work to be saved (notice in verse 8 he says eternal life comes from the spirit), but that what we do will produce something – corruption or life.
Galatians 6:13 – There’s a clue here to verses 3-5. Those compelling the Galatians to be circumcised want to do so so that they can boast in the Galatians actions. See in verse 4 Pauls says “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.” It’s about standing on the works of flesh or the works of the spirit.

8 thoughts on “Galatians 6 – Bear Each other’s Burdens

  1. I think that’s close. At the end, as I mentioned, I think there’s a clue. He talked about how those who were compelling them to be circumcised wanted to boast in what they had accomplished in the Galatians by doing so. If you read Galatians 6:3-5, Paul talks about boasting in what you’ve done not in what others have done.
    I’m thinking that it’s very similar to what he says in Philippians 2:12, we need to work out our own salvation, not let others work it our for us or try to work out anyone else’s.
    So I guess, yeah, we share another’s burdens out of love, but not responsibility for them.

  2. Good stuff.
    “Thinking of it in this way reminds me of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery.”
    Good analogy.
    Just a thought. My wife asked do you think my dad could go to heaven even if he didn’t get baptised? Your thoughts on circumcision made me think about it more. Here’s my not very intelligent thoughts on it. Circumcision was essentially setup by God as a membership thing. In Jesus time baptism was also a membership thing showing yourself as a follower of a given person. It showed others that hey I’m a follower of John or whoever. Maybe I’m loosing it but what if that’s all baptism is? I need to reacquaint my understanding of the baptism scriptures but it’s a thought.
    And, baptism is often used today as circumcision was described as being used in Galatians.

  3. Heh. The contrast between bearing and being borne is a fun one. I vote he meant both, because we can do both and at the same time. My second vote would be that each person is weaker in one area or the other, and Paul was speaking to many people.
    Either way, I sure enjoy you digging in.
    I was tempted to pull out Luther on Galatians yesterday. Maybe you’d enjoy that, too. 🙂

  4. Codepoke – I like what you’ve said, I do think he meant both. Maybe I’ll look at Luther some day, but right now I’m digging through that Frank Viola book (I plan on posting my thoughts) and next is a book on prayer. I’m a one book at a time kind of guy.
    Beg – It all comes back to baptism with us CoC’ers, doesn’t it? 😀 (and I resemble that, LOL).
    I do see a lot of parallels between baptism and circumcision and there is a bit of a membership thing with being baptized. However, passages like Romans 6 and others indicate that there’s more going on when we are baptized than joining God’s club.

  5. Romans6:4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
    Yeah, even that though can be made suspect. The whole verse has tons of symbolism though so whose to say it’s not a symbolic act? I know, I could be the devils advocate on that and am not an expert. I guess I just need to get down and learn the stuff new again for the first time. 🙂
    Hey, I heard you got a dog!!! That makes me smile. 🙂 When are you gonna post pics?

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