Have you ever known a Christian who seemed to just naturally be a burden-bearer?
In over thirty-two years as a pastor, I’ve known many burden-bearing Christians. But I’ve discovered that, while some people may do this initially because of their natural temperament, Christians who do this over the decades do so because of growth in grace. That’s good news for all of us who would like to grow in the role Galatians 6 describes as someone who bears others burdens.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ….Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap….And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.—Galatians 6:1–2, 7, 9
What kind of Christian is a burden-bearer for others? Here are five traits that I see from Galatians 6 and have observed in the lives of godly Christians:
1. Spiritual Christians—“…ye which are spiritual…”
Carnal Christians don’t notice the people around them who are struggling. They are too absorbed with themselves to consider the lonely widow or fatherless child during the holiday season. A carnal small group leader doesn’t notice the person in their group who has been missing church or losing interest. The carnal parent is less likely to pick up on subtle cues that his or her child is spiritually struggling.
One of the best ways, then, to grow as a burden-bearer is simply to grow in your own walk with Christ. Not only does spiritual growth help you see the needs of others, but it gives you the strength from the Lord to help bear their burdens.
2. Honorable Christians—“…considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Sometimes we can’t help others—not because we’re oblivious, but because we’re entangled. A Christian who is caught up in his own sin will not be able to effectively help someone else. If this is you, seek out help before helping others. Ask a pastor or spiritual mentor (even if you are the pastor) for biblical counsel and help.
More to the direct point of the verse, however, when you are helping to bear someone else’s burden, particularly when it is a burden related to a struggle with sin, exercise wisdom, integrity, and accountability in your own life to avoid being pulled in to the other person’s temptation.
3. Obedient Christians—“Bear ye one another’s burdens…”
Bearing others burdens is not optional for the child of God. It is something God calls every mature Christian within the local church to participate in.
Of course, not every person with a burden walks around announcing his or her burden. Perhaps most don’t. This is why we must remain sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit. Often, He will prompt us to minister to someone who is carrying a burden we know nothing about.
4. Generous Christians—“…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Like a farmer planting seed, it takes willingness, vision, and even risk to care for others.
It’s so easy to become stingy with our time and resources. But real burden-bearers don’t just care during the invitation on Sunday or the pre-lesson coffee time in small group. They care all the time and are generous in their compassion and willingness to help.
5. Faithful Christians—“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Sometimes we help people, and they don’t appreciate it. Sometimes they even discard or disregard our help. Sometimes they do this and come back to us again later for more help. Burden bearing is hard, and in our flesh, we sometimes get tired of doing it.
When I think, however, of the most-impactful burden-bearers in my life, these have been Christians who have loved and cared and served over the decades. These are people who keep bearing burdens—not just for a moment, but as long as God gives them strength.
Ask the Lord to help you today to see the needs and burdens that those around you are carrying and to, in His strength and by His Spirit, bear one another’s burdens.