Do We Really Bear One Another’s Burdens?

I’ve been thinking about the concept of bearing one another’s burdens since I cited this as a benefit of putting down the masks we wear.

Though we help one another with burdens such as unemployment, illness, and the loss of loved ones, we think about the burden of sin less often.

It’s a somewhat cliché phrase that we throw around in Christian circles, but is it something we put into practice?

What does it mean to bear one another’s burdens?

When I think of burdens I tend to focus on issues like unemployment, illness, conflicts, loss of loved ones, etc. Interestingly, the Bible verse that uses the phrase “bear one another’s burdens” is situated in a conversation about sin.

“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 be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)

As Christians, we certainly are supposed to help bear trials such as job loses, poverty, sickness, and grief (see passages such as James 2:14-17 and 1 John 3:17), but we also have the responsibility of helping others with the burden of sin. Think about the burdensomeness of sin. Though we know we have God’s forgiveness, sin makes us doubt He is true to His word. We begin doubting He is good and we become immersed in guilt and shame. We feel distant from Him, which often results in us sinning even more.

Why it’s hard to bear the burden of sin with others

I feel like in our culture it’s very common for us to feel like our sin is no one else’s business. We’re often willing to post a carefully censored play-by-play of our lives on social media—we choose to display the fun and impressive aspects of our lives for all to see, but when it comes to things of consequence, including sin, our pride prevents us from being so transparent.

We must overcome our pride and be open to the admonition of others regarding our sin. We must also be willing to admonish others regarding their sin. These are both challenging. In fact, I’m not sure which is more difficult—giving or receiving rebuke.

How do we begin bearing the burden of sin with others?

I’m not insinuating that we can fix the problem of sin. Only God can do this. What we can do is direct one another to God so He can do His work. Unfortunately, I don’t often see this mutual bearing of the burden of sin in the church today. I know I would benefit from this practice. Would you?

I believe an initial step towards practicing this is to identify someone or a group of people with whom you can be open about sin. It’s not necessarily beneficial to be open and vulnerable with someone who isn’t trustworthy and wise or who won’t take the sin seriously. Moreover, it’s hard to accept rebuke from someone unless you respect her. Do you have someone in your life with whom can you be open and vulnerable about sin? If not, what can you do to build a relationship with this potential? I’m going to answer these questions as I engage in goal setting for the coming year.

What can you share from your experience? Do the Christians in your life bear the burden of sin with one another? What does this look like practically?

Comments

  1. I hadn’t really thought about the context of that verse. Good point.
    I sometimes hear people talk about accountability, which is sort of what you’re talking about, but it’s not something I see people do very often.

    • I think accountability is one of the simplest, yet effective ways we can walk out this concept. I think we need more of it in the church today.

  2. You make SUCH an excellent point. We are so guarded when it comes to our sins; it’s as though we think everyone at church is sinless, and therefore, we have to pretend to be sinless, too. Or even worse, we look at everyone around us and decide our sin isn’t that bad…that’s a HUGE pitfall!

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