Summary: There are three kinds of burdens: The kind we share; the kind of we bear; and the kind we wear.
On my mission trips to China, I’ve noticed the standard of living keeps rising. More Chinese people are driving cars, and because of American fast food, they are getting overweight as well. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed yet—the main mean of transportation and delivery is still the bicycle. And inside the cities I’ve seen men on bicycles carrying loads weighing hundreds of pounds. You wonder how they loaded that burden on the bike and how they are even moving it. Whenever I see one of those heavy bike burdens, I always think it’s a picture-parable of most Americans. We aren’t carrying a visible load of cargo on our backs. But most Americans are carrying a crushing weight of invisible burdens.
Everybody has burdens. Not everyone has wealth, but everyone has burdens. Not everyone has health, but everyone has burdens. Not everyone has talent, but everyone has burdens. At this moment you may be carrying family burdens, financial burdens, or physical burdens. You may be struggling under a vocational burdens or an emotional burden. Emotional, physical, and relational burdens are a part of life. If you’re not carrying any kind of a burden today, then you’re free to leave and get an early lunch. But for the rest of us—me included—we need to see what God’s Word says about this.
Galatians 6:2-5. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.”
Now we’re reading this passage from the New International Version, but I grew up reading the King James Version. In the KJV verse 2 says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” And verse 5 says, “Every man must bear his own burden.”
That can be confusing. In fact, during my senior year in high school I was on fire for the Lord. I was already known as a preacher and many people called me that just to make fun of me. I had a classmate named Steve who didn’t care for my faith or the Bible. Steve was always ridiculing me saying the Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions. So one day I handed him my Bible and said, “Find me one mistake or contradiction.” I thought that would shut him up. But to my surprise he turned to Galatians 6 and he read those two verses. He said, “See! In verse two it says, ‘Bear ye one another’s burdens.’ But then in verse 5 it says, ‘Every man must bear his own burden.’ Which one is it? I guess God can’t make up His mind.”
I wish this story had a good ending, and that I gave him some clever reply to defeat his logic. But the truth is I was a little shocked myself. That seemed like a glaring contradiction to me. There were some other guys standing around and they join in laughing with Steve because the “preacher” had been shot down.