Bear One Another's Burdens


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

All of us carry burdens in life, and there is a sense in which each of us must assume responsibility for carrying our own load and being accountable for it.

But sometimes our burdens become too great to carry alone. Our heaviest burdens are not always seen or apparent to others around us. But when they are, the law of Christ demands that brothers and sisters come to the aid of one another. So, we are taught to bear one another’s burdens.

Paul’s discussion of the contrast between the way of the flesh and the way of the Spirit in this text provides a backdrop to this statement. It shows the different ways in which we sometimes react when a brother is caught in a sin. The way of the flesh is often characterized by envy and boastfulness. Such attitudes are deceptive and dangerous for more than one reason. Not only do they discourage us from coming to the aid of the brother who is in trouble. They also put us at risk of being overcome by sin ourselves.

The mature, “spiritual” Christian will rush to the aid of the brother who has been overcome by sin, and in a spirit of gentleness, try to restore him. Christianity is not about every man for himself. It is about mutual assistance. This especially the case when a brother’s burden has become so heavy that he staggers beneath its weight. And “bear one other’s burdens” is a reciprocal statement, suggesting that it may not be long before the shoe is on the other foot, and the favor will need to be returned. Thus, Paul warns against the attitude of boasting.

The burdens we bear can appear in many forms—sorrow, discouragement, temptation, and spiritual weakness. We can lend a helping hand or provide material support. We can offer words of encouragement. We can “weep with those who weep.” We can pray for one another. In these and other ways, we bear one another’s burdens.

It is one of the great blessings of being members of the family of God. Collectively, we are members of one another—a “band of brothers.” Alone we are weak; together we are strong. When we help to bear one another’s burdens, we put into action the plan and purpose of God. It is proof of divine wisdom.

When we bear one another’s burdens, we also fulfill the law of Christ. No doubt, this refers to the law of love. Paul in this text reminded the brethren that the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is the summation of the whole Law (Gal. 5:14). It is called the law of Christ because Jesus repeatedly taught that those who follow him must love one another and love their neighbors as themselves. Through his parables, his sermons, and his own actions, the Lord illustrated what this law of love meant (Matt. 7:12; 19:19; John 13:34).

Seen from this perspective, bearing one another’s burdens goes to the heart and mind of Christ. It is the essence of true discipleship. It is truly what it means to walk by the Spirit.

Dan Petty