Recently a good friend made a very touching public statement about how we, believers, should bear one another’s burdens as the law of Christ demands (Galatians 6:2). My friend was talking about our caring for one another is relates to physical, spiritual and emotional needs. He was saying that we should care enough about one another to know about a need, meet the need if possible, and walk with one another through to the solution (whether or not the need was met by us personally). In other words – taking another’s need as our own.
When read in context, the Galatians text is probably talking about us bearing with one another as we deal with the enticements and battles that we will face as Christians living in a fallen world. While the scriptural context my friend used was not perfect, the sentiment was right on target!
In James 2 we are asked this question, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and be filled, and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? “
John 15:13 asserts, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
In Romans 12 we are admonished, “be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality”
In Philippians 2:4 are found these words, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
As I reflect on these scriptures, being the cynic that I am, I found myself thinking – do we really bear one another’s burdens? And I said NO – not unless it is a burden that:
1) We feel is worth bearing/something we deem as worthy to be called a burden
2) Will not cost us anything financially
3) Will not cause us to have to inconvenience our time/schedule
I know – I know – those of you who read this and know me well will say, “Jan, that’s just how you think!” But I want you to think about your life just over the last year.
• How many times did you make yourself available to a friend contemplating suicide? (I mean, did you even give them enough attention to know that were contemplating suicide);
• How many times did you give money that you earmarked for something else in order to ease another’s burden? (Not money from your savings, retirement, etc. – I mean sacrificially giving that ‘last 2 dollars’ so that someone could eat, sleep, be seen at the doctor, etc.);
• How many times did you commit to talk with some weekly about a problem/issue until it was resolved? (And did you keep the commitment?)
Maybe an easier question is:
• How many times did a person who calls you friend share a need, a serious need, with you and you chose to ignore it or better yet you chose to tell them ‘be warm and be filled’ without doing a thing tangible to help them or to make it better.
It’s not that we can’t do it – but will we do it? Will we allow our hearts to feel another’s pain and share in another’s joy in a real way? Or will we continue to say to one another be warm and be filled?
Love requires that we care! Next time you tell a friend – take a load off – mean it!!