“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” (Galatians 6:2-3).
On a recent drive, my family and I had an opportunity to help someone. Cognitively compromised and unprepared for the Texas heat, a man wandered alone in a rural area while we drove past him in our air-conditioned vehicle. The aid we were able to provide was greatly needed and may have saved his life. In the aftermath, though, one persistent thought overwhelmed me with conviction: I hadn’t even noticed the man. Filled with plans for the rest of the evening, mental to-do lists, and tasks that needed organizing, my brain only vaguely cataloged the sight of him stumbling along until my husband caught my attention by saying, “Did you just see that? Something isn’t right.” When he turned the car around, I understood what he meant. Something was not right, and God in His mercy gave us the ability to help make it right.
That evening as we read the parable of the Good Samaritan in our family Bible time (Luke 10:25-37), I considered those who walked past the broken man on the side of the road. Maybe they saw themselves as too good or too busy or found it too risky to help the destitute man dying on the side of the road. As I considered my own self-absorption earlier that day, I realized that the Martha mentality I carried could have been just as damaging in its effects as the pride and disregard I read into Jesus’ parable. When we walk (or drive) right past the needy, their needs go unmet, regardless of whether our actions are motivated by arrogant disdain or negligent distraction. We are surrounded daily by need and hurt, but how often do we overlook that need and fail to act?
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul warns us of this very sentiment. He calls the members of the church to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). However, he notes that a common obstacle to doing so is pride as it can blind a believer to the needs around him. Verse 3 (NLT) says, “If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” Before we can assist anyone else, we must first realize the way in which our own self-absorption can distract us from doing so. How can I help someone shoulder a burden that I don’t realize they’re carrying? How am I to know what others are carrying if I’m preoccupied with my own load? What’s behind the “I’m fine, and you?” veneer of standard Sunday morning greetings? What concerns are lingering in the brains shielded by the familiar faces of my church family? How do I miss the opportunity to connect because I am too busy, too preoccupied with myself, or too lazy to make the effort?
In Galatians 6:2, we see that our bearing burdens of fellow believers will fulfill the law of Christ. Ultimately, our obligation to help others is reflective of a God who, despite being perfect and worthy of praise, has never been so consumed with His own glory that He would leave us to suffer destitute consequences, even those we rightly deserve. He reaches down into the hopeless situations of our own making and brings us up from the filthy trenches of sin into perfect and undeserved fellowship with Him. What a beautiful picture of Christlikeness unfolds when we reach out in love to carry the heavy burdens of those around us.
What does bearing one another’s burdens look like in your women’s ministry? In practice it can look many ways. Sometimes it means offering a wise word, but sometimes silence is preferable. Acts of kindness can be helpful, such as providing groceries to the overworked single mom or calling a lonely widow. While praying through the prayer list, seek an opportunity to take action. Send an encouraging text message/ email, or even better, a handwritten note. Thoughtful burden-sharing is often rooted in intentionality.
Ultimately, whatever comfort we provide others in difficult times is deeper when we are in touch with the Comforter Himself. Abiding in Christ leaves us comforted ourselves, which enables us to comfort others. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, we serve the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Comforting others starts with first seeking the Lord ourselves.
Prayer: God, thank You for being my Comforter and bringing me peace in the midst of difficulties. Please open my eyes to those with heavy burdens and make clear the ways in which I can help carry those burdens. Compel me toward actions that relieve and comfort those around me. Help me to look outside of my own thoughts and plans to see others who are struggling, so that I may offer them the comfort You have so graciously offered me. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.