Faithlife Sermons

Bearing one another's burdens

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When we live in the Spirit and start to bear the Fruit of the Spirit, we can then begin to fulfil the law of God as we relate to others.

In the New Testament, there are at least 100 passages that use the word that we translate “one another.” Forty-seven of those were spoken by Jesus as instructions to His followers. Paul wrote around 60 of them. To say that how we relate to one another is important is an understatement. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment (love your neighbor) is just as important as the first one (love God). How we relate to God and others is fundamental to the Christian. Paul has just explained in chapter 5 the difference between living in the flesh (sinful nature) and the Spirit. In our text today, Paul will begin to expand on how a believer, living in the spirit should truly relate to friends, family, other Christians, and non-believers.
Galatians 6:1–10 ESV
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
The key verse in this passage, I believe is verse 2. Paul writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” In all of the “one another” passages of the Bible, we are called to love one another, exhort (encourage) one another, and there are many others, but the point is, we should take these to heart. If we live by standards of the world, we end up looking out only for ourselves, but when we are in a right relationship with God, and we truly worship God as we should (vertical relationship), the overflow of that love and joy will then affect how we interact with others regardless of who they are (horizontal relationship).
This morning, we are going to look at what it truly means to bear one another’s burdens:

The goal of any Christian fellowship is restoration

Church discipline is a hot topic in many circles today. There are churches that have strict guidelines for practicing discipline, and practice it actively, and there are churches that have guidelines for a disciplinary process, but have never in their history practiced church discipline. The arguments against church discipline are numerous, ranging from things like, it gives the church bad name to we don’t want to evict people from the church because they need to hear the word. While these are very valid arguments, the questions remains, “what do you do with someone that has fallen into a pattern of sin?”
It has been said, “the Christian army is the only army that shoots its wounded.” When you think back to all the times you have seen a Christian fall into a pattern of sin, what have you done to help that person? Did you ignore it and hope they would go away because you didn't want to deal with it? Did you just let it go in hopes they would recover from it? Or perhaps, maybe you took the stand, “I just don’t want to get involved.”
There is a fine line we walk as Christians: identifying a pattern of KNOWN sin and helping correct that behavior versus being condemning because we are “holier than thou.”
There are some things we must take away from verse one in order to understand it better. First is, the word caught gives us the idea of being caught in a trap. It a the idea that a person was walking as they should be walking (in the spirit) and they stepped on a snap trap that has no caught them and is holding them up. The next thing we see is, “you who are spiritual.” This means the rest of us that are truly walking in the spirit, and gives us the idea of more mature believers. Then we see the word restore here and that gives us the idea of making someone adequate or bringing them back to wholeness, and then the last part there (spirit of gentleness) is an attitude that we carry. If you remember, last week we talked about how the fruit of the spirit was an attitude that manifest itself in actions and not action based.
So, when we see someone that has been trapped in a KNOWN sin, we that are more spiritually mature, should look to make then whole again with an attitude of gentleness. This doesn’t mean going at them, with the, “I told you so” attitude, or telling them they are not truly saved because they are in a pattern of sin, because now we are guilty of passing judgment on them that we have no place in doing.
Which brings us to the second part of verse one: “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” This is why it is important for those that are more spiritually mature to address sinful issues with those that have fallen into the trap of sin. It may not necessarily be that particular sin that we may be caught up in, but there could be other issues involved such as gossip, judgmentalism, or even legalism. We must take great care to remember that restoration is the ultimate goal and not separation.

The Christian walk is a walk of teamwork

Paul goes on in verse two to say, “bear one another’s burdens...” No one can walk this life alone. We were made for companionship and partnership. From the very beginning, mankind was created as a relational being. We need each other in this world otherwise we, by ourselves will not have the courage to continue through trials and temptations.
The word used here for “burden” means “crushing weight.” You know that weight. That one that feels like the whole world is resting solely on your shoulders and there is no one around to help shoulder that weight. Imagine for one moment if you had to endure every trial, every temptation, every attack by the devil by yourself and how many times you actually did shoulder that by yourself. Did you always come out on top?
When we help each other through the hard times of life, we are fulfilling the law of Christ. We have two very basic commands in this life: love god, and love others. The relationships flow down and out of a person. When we look up to God and embrace Him as the loving God that never changes and never fails, then we can love Him for who He truly is, and not a God to be constantly afraid of, then we are filled with a love toward him that flows over and out of us and then pours over into our relationships with other people. This principle falls right in line with Jesus’ teaching:
John 13:34–35 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13.
Paul follows this up with a stern warning about the dangers of self-sufficiency and the pride that follows with it in verse 3 where he says, “if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” We were never meant to go through life alone, and when we do, we slip and fall all over the place, and we have absolutely nothing to brag about.
Paul follows this up with a stern warning about the dangers of self-sufficiency and the pride that follows with it in verse 3 where he says, “if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” We were never meant to go through life alone, and when we do, we slip and fall all over the place, and we have absolutely nothing to brag about.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Paul continues his warning against thinking you’re something better by telling the Galatians to test their own work. The word for “test” means “to examine” or “put to a test.” It is the same word that Paul uses in where he is speaking about the need to examine yourself before coming to the Lord’s table in order to partake of the Lord’s supper. It is this internal reflection that we must be vigilant to examine our personal lives before we start to be critical of others.
Verse 5 tells us why we should examine ourselves. He says, “each will have to bear his own load.” Now this may seem contradictory because we already read that we should bear one another’s burdens, but the word that is used here that is often translated “burden” actually means a load like the cargo of a ship or a backpack load. Basically what Paul is saying is we all have our own baggage that we are bringing to the table, and we should be fully aware of that.
What Paul is stressing here is personal accountability of an individual before God Himself. This is a continuation of what Paul wrote in 5.26 where he wrote, “let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” What happens is we tend to become critical of others and become prideful that we aren’t like others because we do things better, or have lived a better life, or perhaps we feel inferior to others because they can do things better than us, or they have a better way of ministry, when in reality, we all have our own baggage that we carry with us each and every day. We deal with our imperfections face to face, and that can become discouraging. The ultimate issue here is the issue of comparison. Paul is trying to steer people away from comparing ourselves to the actions of others. One way or another, we will see what we truly have.

Take care of those entrusted with teaching and preaching the word

Most preachers are always uncomfortable with talking about more money, but the truth of the matter is, as Christians, we have a responsibility to take care of those that are tasked with the responsibility of ministry. Those that teach and preach the word are the ones tasked with keeping watch over the souls of a congregation:
Hebrews 13.17
Hebrews 13:17 ESV
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Those that teach in the church have a vital responsibility to take care of the flock spiritually, and that is a major responsibility for those that are called to those ministries. The apostles knew how important it was when the first deacons were called in Acts:
Acts 6:1–4 ESV
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Acts 6.1-
It’s not that serving in the church is a menial task by no means. The apostles understood the importance of preaching and teaching and ministering the gospel, and Paul is exhorting the believers in Galatia to take care of those that were preaching and teaching the Gospel because of the Judaizers. He wanted to make sure that the gospel was not cut off at the source. Paul knew that daily stresses of life were enough for anyone, and it was important that the ones that were called to preach and minister the gospel had as few distractions as possible so they could give their best effort to preaching and studying the word so they could stand strong against the false teachings.
1 Timothy 3:17-18
1 Timothy 5:17–18 ESV
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
1 Timothy 3.17-18
1 Timothy 5
Chuck Swindoll says, “As the pastor shares spiritual wealth with his flock, the flock should share material goods with him. In a grace-oriented, spirit-filled church, pastor and congregation are to look out for one another.” As, Spirit-filled Christians, we should not take those that are responsible for the care of our spiritual well-being for granted.

You get out of things what you put into them

Not only should we invest in those that are tasked with teaching and preaching, we are called to invest in kingdom work. Spiritual work has been equated to planting and harvesting. Jesus even said,
Matthew 9.
Matthew 9:37–38 ESV
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Jesus told parables about sharing the gospel as plants growing. He said seed (the word) is scattered on different types of soil, and different things happen depending on the ground. With this in mind, we see that there are four laws to the harvest:

Seed grows according to its kind

You can’t grow a grapefruit tree from watermelon seed. If you plant an avocado, that’s what you’re going to get.

Harvesting happens in different seasons

When something is planted, you can’t expect it to grow overnight, unless it’s the grass in my back yard, then you can actually pull up a chair and watch it grow. Different seeds require different amounts of time to germinate and grow and eventually produce fruit. When you go to the produce section, you can’t find fresh strawberries in the fall. The harvest will always happen at different times from the planting.

There is always more to harvest than what was planted

I bought some raw sunflower seed once and planted them. In this package, I wont even begin to count how many seed were in the package, but only about four plants grew from those seeds; wen they grew and matured, they then produced seeds of their own, and when I pulled the seeds off of them, there were more seeds than what I started with. Imagine what would happen if an apple tree only produced one apple a year. Once the harvest comes, there is always plenty to harvest.

Forget past harvests and focus on the current harvest

Some years are better than others. Crops are depends on soils quality, weather, and many other variables. If there is a drought one year, the harvest won’t be much, and if there is too much rain, it could be catastrophic. The conditions have to be just right to achieve optimum harvest, but we can’t let past failures reduce us to giving up. Imagine of all the farmers gave up after one or two bad crops, there wouldn’t be much produce now for us to have on our tables. The same goes for the work of the kingdom, we must be willing to forget what has happened in the past and look forward to the future.
Laws of the harvest work in both directions. If we sow corruption and evil, we will do nothing but reap corruption and evil. If we take the time to invest in kingdom work, we will reap the spiritual benefits of that work. Sometimes we may actually see the results, but many times we won’t always see those rewards in the here and now. Everything matures in the time each seed requires and in different seasons of our lives and the life of the church.

Act in obedience to the call and the harvest will come

Paul closes this section out with an encouragement for the readers in verses 9 & 10. He writes, “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” Perseverance pays off. we must be obedient to the call in our lives, and everything else will fall into place. God is not asking us to live by a set of rules, He has called us to share the gospel and have the mindset of Christ. To see the world as He does as a lost and dying world that is doomed to an eternity in hell if they do not accept the gospel in their lives. If we act in obedience to the call, the harvest will come in its time. Not when we want it to, but in due season. When we are given divine opportunities, we are not to let those pass us up because of a few bad experiences, and especially when it comes to those of faith.
The US Military have many elite forces. They are the best of the best. These special forces know that in order for them to accomplish the mission set out for them, they have to work as a unit. As one body. They know that there is strength in numbers. The Army Rangers have a creed, and in that creed there is a statement that says, “Never shall I fail my comrades…I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.” If the Christian army could take that to heart, can you imagine how unstoppable we could be?
People fall, and we must be there to help pick them up. This is how we fulfill the calling of God in our lives. We are to lift each other up and not tear each other down. We are not called to criticize others, but to help each other up when we stumble.
Have you taken the time to invest on someone’s life to encourage them and help them succeed? What have you invested in the work of the kingdom? Are you currently investing yourself in someone’s life to help them be successful in the life and ministry that God has called them to?
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