Summary: When we walk alongside those who are weary or wiped out, we’re acting like Jesus did. If we truly care for others, we’ll care enough to confront sin and carry burdens.
Carry Each Other’s Burdens
I’ve not watched a lot of the American Idol TV show, but I’ve seen enough to know that Simon Cowell, one of the talent judges, enjoys tearing down the talentless. Here are some of his cutting comments:
“If you lived 2,000 years ago and sang like that, they would have stoned you.”
“That was absolutely ghastly. I can honestly say if you won, it would be the end of the American music industry.”
“That was dreadful. Is singing something you want to pursue?” The contestant thought for a second and then said, “I can take it or leave it.” With a sinister smile on his face, Simon responded, “Leave it.”
While most of us will never have to face a relentless critic like Simon, many of us have experienced either the brokenness that comes from sin or we’re just trying to bear the burdens that come from life itself. Unfortunately, the church is often the last place where we can find friends who will help carry our burdens. Instead of hearing words of comfort from fellow Christ followers, those who are closest to us sometimes wind up and whack us.
That reminds me of the wife who came home to find her husband in the kitchen shaking frantically and wildly dancing around. She noticed that there was a wire running from his waist towards the electric frying pan. Intending to knock him away from the deadly current, she whacked him with a handy 2x4, breaking his arm in two places. When he turned around she realized that he had just been listening to his Walkman!
We’re quick to chastise Christians and take a swing at the saints, aren’t we? It’s been said that believers belong to the only army in the world that shoots its wounded. Do you remember that TV commercial several years that showed an elderly woman lying on the floor shouting, “Help me, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up?” That phrase has become part of our vocabulary but it’s not very funny for some of us today. There are times when we falter in our spiritual life and we can’t get back on track by ourselves. And there other occasions when we feel so burdened that we don’t know how we will ever make it through another day.
As we continue in our series called, “Body Building,” we’ve learned that since each of us are valuable pieces of God’s puzzle, we’re called to care for one another, to be united with one another, to love one another, and to accept one another. Today our emphasis is on how we can “Carry Each Other’s Burdens” from Galatians 6:1-5.
Before we tackle our text, let’s back up to Galatians 5 and set the context. Verse 25 provides the key to the Christian life: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” As we march along like soldiers, we do so in unison, realizing that we either make it together or we don’t make it at all.
Verse 26 indicates that if we want the Body of PBC to be strengthened, we must avoid belittling others while we build ourselves up: “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” The word “provoke” means “to challenge” somebody to a contest. Pride can cause us to go after those we consider inferior and to envy those who appear to be superior. Either way, this reveals a heart that is self-focused, not others-centered. Whether we whack away at the weak or are overcome with envy toward those we think are better than us, the problem is that we’re too caught up with ourselves.
Self-centeredness is the deadly enemy of all the “one another” statements in Scripture since our conduct toward others is largely determined by our opinion of ourselves. The attitude we should have toward people, according to John Stott, is not, “I’m better than you and I’ll prove it” or, “You’re better than me and I resent it,” but, “You are a person of importance in your own right and it is my joy and privilege to serve you.” (“The Message of Galatians,” InterVarsity Press, Page 157).
#1: Restore the Broken (1)
God gives us four relational responsibilities in this passage. Our first task is found in verse 1: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” The Message puts it this way: “If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out.”
Paul refers to his readers as “brothers,” a term that indicates we’re part of the same family. By using the word “if” he’s helping us think through something hypothetical that has far-too-often become a real story.