Summary: Being a burden bearer is who God has made us to be.
Galatians 6:1-10, 14-16 CARRY EACH OTHER’S BURDENS
This is the time of the year when everyone is going somewhere. There’s something about the summertime that makes people restless, that makes people want to travel – go to new places, see new things. While I attended school, I always tried to travel during the summer. Some friends of mine and I would work extra hours during the school year, and then, when summer came, we would pack up our backpacks, jump in a plane, or a car, and head to Europe or the Middle East, or the mountains out west, and we’d live out of our backpacks for a couple months. It was fun, except for carrying your backpack. You can imagine all the things you’d keep in your backpack – clothes, jackets, shoes, tents, sleeping bags, guide books – your whole life – and it weighed a lot. And that was always my least favorite thing about traveling – carrying that heavy load on my back – hiking up and down mountains, running through train stations, dodging cars on busy streets, climbing up and down stairs - all with that heavy weight on my back.
Once in awhile we’d go to a nicer hotel, and then someone else would carry our backpacks for us, and I still remember how nice it felt to walk around with nothing on my back.
In our Scripture lesson for today, that’s what God tells us to do for each other. In verse 2, God says, “Carry each other’s burdens.” We all have burdens in life that we carry. God tells us today that he wants me to help you carry your burdens in life, and he wants you to help me, and to help each other, as we carry our burdens in life. “Carry each other’s burdens” is the theme for today’s sermon. As we focus on this part of God’s Word, we’re going to see how we are surrounded by opportunities. We’re going to see how our pride sometimes gets in the way. We’re going to see how God’s promises motivate us to help each other. And finally, we’re going to see how it’s OK to boast.
In this portion of Scripture, there are all kinds of encouragements to express your faith by helping other people. Verse 10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.” If you’re looking for people to help, you don’t need to look very far. Do good to all people, God says. Especially, your family of believers. Do you realize that every Christian has two families? There’s your earthly family – the people you’re related to. But then there’s also your spiritual family – the people sitting with you today – those are your spiritual brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. This is your second family. And God has brought us together not just so that we can hear his Word. That is our primary purpose. And God has brought us together not just so that we can drink coffee together, although that’s a nice thing to do. God has also brought us together to carry each other’s burdens, to help each other. That’s one of the reasons God has brought us into this family of Christians.
And there’s more to helping each other than just changing someone’s flat tire. Look at verse 1: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” The language of the Bible here gives us the picture of an animal who is suddenly caught in a trap – completely surprised, in trouble. That’s how this verse describes how a Christian caught in a sin. Suddenly, it just happens, and that Christian is trapped. Maybe that fellow Christian of yours is caught in the sin of neglecting God’s Word. He makes excuses for it all the time. And that’s a sin. It’s one of the most common sins Christians commit today, and it is wrong. Or, maybe that fellow Christian of yours is caught up in the sin of materialism. Or, maybe that fellow Christian is caught up in a moral sin, maybe living with someone outside of marriage. Those are sins. And Christians sometimes get caught in them.
And that is their burden. Their faith is getting crushed. Their soul is getting harmed. There’s guilt. That’s a burden. And that’s where you come in. “You who are spiritual should restore him gently.” Once again, the language of the Bible here gives us a picture – the picture of someone being extremely delicate and careful, like a doctor resetting a broken bone. Don’t be rough, the Apostle Paul says. Restore that person gently. Talk to that person. Share thoughts from God’s Word with that person. Be gentle.