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Summary: Paul is primarily concerned with believers, and the bearing of one another's burdens within the community of faith. The total context, however, is much broader.

In South Dakota a man by the name of August had a clothing

store he was going to close up. His was not one of those perpetual

year around closing sales. He was actually intending to go out of

business by July. So he hung a sign in his window which read, The

First Of July Is The Last Of August. Those who did not know the

owners name would think the sign was expressing a meaningless and

hopelessly unexplainable contradiction, but for those who knew his

name, the sign conveyed a clear and clever message.

So often an apparent contradiction has a very simple explanation.

This is the case with the many Biblical paradoxes. Paul has one here

in the last chapter of Galatians that certainly seems on the surface, to

be a flat contradiction. In verse 2 he says, "Bear one another's

burdens," and then in verse 5 he says, "Each man will have to bear

his own burden." Certainly in three verses Paul had not forgotten

what he wrote. But if he did it on purpose, which is obvious, how can

it be that we are to carry one another's burdens, and at the same

time each be stuck with our own load?

One might just as well say, that to be wise we must become fools,

or, to be strong we must become weak. As a matter of fact, Paul said

both of those paradoxes as well. Was Paul a master at double talk, or

was he gifted with the ability to see life from a wider and wiser

perspective than most men? The latter is the obvious answer. Paul's

apparently conspicuous contradictions, and puzzling paradoxes, are

the result of his God-given ability to see the whole of life, and not just

some of its parts in isolation. This ability was essential for one who

represented so authoritatively Him who is the Alpha and Omega, the

beginning and the end. What can be more paradoxical than an A

which is also a Z, or beginning which is also an end. This can only be

possible if we are referring to one who is eternal and omnipresent,

and who, therefore, fills all of reality at the same time. This, of

course, is precisely the case with God.

Since God's very nature is paradoxical, because it is so all

encompassing, it follows that it ought not to be surprising to find that

His revelation partakes of His nature. The Bible is filled with

paradoxes just because it sees life as a whole, and not just in

fragments, as is the case with all merely human philosophy. To

conquer we must surrender; to live we must die; to be exalted we

must be humble; to get we must give. God hates the sinner, yet loves

the sinner enough to give His Son for them. Blessed are those who

hunger and thirst after righteousness. Yet, those who drink of the

water of life shall thirst no more. In the last days there shall come

those forbidding to marry. Yet, in the last days they shall marry and

be given in marriage.

On and on goes the list of Biblical paradoxes, each of them with a

valuable lesson to broaden our minds and enlarge our vision of

reality. We want to focus our attention on this one before us, which

deals with burdens. The thing to be aware of is the truth conveyed

by paradox, which is, opposite things can be true of the same thing.

A river can be narrow and wide; crooked and straight. From one

perspective you may see it go straight for miles, and then begin to

wind for miles.

The word burden has more than one meaning, and depending

upon how you are using it, it can refer to a curse or a blessing. There

are burdens in life that no one can consider good. They are evil, and

are crushing burdens. William G. Clark referred to such when he

wrote,

Oh, there are moments for us here, when seeing

Life's any qualities, and woe, and care,

The burdens laid upon our mortal being

Seems heavier than the human heart can bear.

The Bible urges us to get rid of these kinds of burdens, for they

are anxieties and cares that are beyond our control. "Casting all

your care upon Him, for He careth for you." "Come unto me all ye

that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The

burdens of weary, overworked, and frustrated lives are to be gotten

rid of, and refreshment, and rest are to be found in Christ. "Cast

your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you." This is certainly

one way to look at the matter of burdens, but God forbid that we

think it is the whole truth about burdens.

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