Responsibility toward the Weak and Sinful - Section 2 (series: Lessons on Galatians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

And in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

‘The law of Christ’ is the law of love which fulfills the entire law—“The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14).

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Instead of thinking he is something special, he should feel the load of his own sin; and this will lead him to bear sympathetically with his neighbor’s burden of infirmity.

Each one should test his own actions.

Here is the remedy for self-conceit. A man should put his own work to the test (lit., examine). Believers must first be sure their lives are right with God before giving spiritual help to others. That is what Jesus meant when he said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). This means that rather than comparing himself with others he should step back and take an objective look at himself and his accomplishments. There is also the idea here that we should not run around getting everybody to carry our burdens.

Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.

A man should examine his own work, and if he finds anything there to give him satisfaction, ‘he can take pride in himself.’ But a man who really looks at himself alone is not likely to find a reason for having pride in himself. No doubt, Paul had the Galatian believers in mind here, who thought they had reason for ‘glorying in themselves, but it all arose from unjust and self-conceited comparisons of themselves with others, instead of looking at themselves. The only true glorying, if there is such a thing, is in the testimony of a good conscience, glorying in the cross of Christ.

For each one should carry his own load.

This verse seems to contradict verse 2 where it says “Carry each other's burdens.” But it is not really a contradiction, and that becomes apparent once we point out that the word burden in verse 1 is not the same as the word load, though the two words are usually considered to have the same meaning. In the verse Carry each other's burdens, the original is “baros” and the lexicon gives the meaning as “a heavy load or a weight.” But the word translated load is “phortion” and the concordance defines it as “a task or a service to be done.” The weights or loads we are to help one another bear must be viewed in the light of verse 1, where we are admonished to restore a weak brother caught in a sin. Instead of condemning them, and discouraging them, we are to assist them and help them to overcome their sin. We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak (Rom. 15:1). It includes instructing young believers and encouraging stumbling saints. It would include comforting the bereaved and afflicted, visiting the sick and lonely, assisting those who are in financial straits, counseling and advising those who want to marry, and prayer for new converts. This burden-bearing is motivated by grace and love and is done in keeping with His commandment—“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us” (1 John 3:23). These are the burdens we can share with one another.

There are burdens which are personal and are not to be shared with another. The term ‘load’ , as it is used here, designates what each man must bear for himself, like a soldier must carry his own pack; it’s his own personal responsibility and is to be distinguished from the additional burdens of verse 2 which can be shared with others. These burdens, or load, you must bear alone, because they are personal work, a personal task which no one else can do for you. The word rendered load here is the same word used in Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus in this passage is talking about service. In it, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." The burden here is associated with the yoke of service, obedience, and submission. Now the word load in this verse is the same word translated burden in Matthew 11:30. It refers to personal discipleship and service. And of this, Paul says no one else can substitute for you. It is your own individual personal responsibility for service. Each of us has a job to do, which we only can do. All of us have our own talents, gifts, and opportunities. If we fail in our personal faithfulness, no one else can help bear the burden, for it is ours alone. This is the meaning of “each one should carry his own load.”

How can a person get rid of his burdens? There is only one place you can get rid of it, and that is at the cross of Christ—“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22).

Dear reader, if you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior you are carrying a burden of personal sin that is too heavy for you; it’s a burden you cannot bear. Over two thousand years ago Christ took the burden of your sin, and He bore it on the cross. Today your burden is either on you or by faith you have received Christ as your Savior and it is on Him. It cannot be both places—your sin is either on you or it is on Christ. And Christ does not share it—He bore it all.

the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22).

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