Summary: We show we care when we bear one another’s burdens.
How many of you remember the TV commercial from the late 80s and early 90s which showed an elderly woman lying on the floor shouting, “Help me, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up?” That catchphrase has become part of our vocabulary but it’s not very funny for those who have faltered, fallen, and feel forgotten.
One of the many challenges during COVID-19 has been the number of people who have either relapsed or lapsed in their spiritual lives. Some don’t know how they’ll make it through another day.
According to the Census Bureau’s Houehold Pulse Survey released last month, the pandemic has created new barriers for people suffering from mental illness and substance abuse. Over the past 12 months, nearly 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression…up from 1 in 10 adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019.
Young adults are being hit the hardest. According to this study, 56% of 18–24-year-olds have experienced an increased amount of anxiety, depression, sleep disruptions, and thoughts of suicide. This compares to just 29% of those 65 and over who have experienced these struggles.
We’re continuing in our series called, “One Another.” So far, we’ve learned we’re to care for one another, to be united with one another, and to accept one another. Next weekend our topic will be, “Bearing with One Another.” After Easter, we’ll begin a series on the 10 Commandments called, “Written in Stone.”
Today, our emphasis is on how we can “Carry Each Other’s Burdens” from Galatians 6:1-5: “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.”
Before we tackle our text, let’s set the context. In chapter 5, Paul warns Christians not to be in conflict with each other. Check out Galatians 5:15: “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
Galatians 5:26 indicates if we want the body of Edgewood to be edified, we must avoid blasting away at other believers: “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” The word “provoke” means “to challenge” somebody to a contest. Whether we whack away at the weak or are overcome with envy toward those we think are better than us, the problem is we’re too caught up with ourselves.
Undergirding all the “one another” statements is the exhortation to love one another. Interestingly, the “love one another” command is repeated 13 different times! That must mean it’s important.
Self-centeredness is the deadly enemy of all the “one another” statements. 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.”
Our main idea today is this: We show we care when we bear one another’s burdens. I see four relational responsibilities in this passage.
1. Restore the Broken. Our first task is found in verse 1: “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.” One paraphrase 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 which means, “from the same womb.” Born again believers are part of the same family, brothers and sisters with one another. The use of the word “if” helps us think through something hypothetical so we’re ready to restore the broken when it happens.
The word “caught” was used to describe a bird or an animal which had become entangled in a trap. A believer who is caught in sin, is one who has been surprised or suddenly entrapped, with no hope of escape. The picture is of a brother or sister who has been caught red-handed in sin, much like the woman ambushed by the authorities while she was committing adultery in John 8.
In verse 1, the word “transgression” is translated “trespass,” which carries the idea of stumbling or sliding off a slick path, leaving the person stuck in a ditch. It’s the idea of crossing the line. Notice this refers to “any” transgression, meaning it could be big or small.