The first few verses of Galatians chapter six are interesting. With the span of a few verses we have admonitions to both “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) and for “each one [to] carry his own load” (Gal. 6:5). In the church, being responsible for one’s own walk and being responsible for others is not an either or scenario.
I once took three teenage boys on a backpacking trip to Point Reyes. One of my general rules is “carry your own stuff,” but one of my guys got sick on the way up the mountain. He was feeling so ill that he could not carry his backpack. At first we rotated packs, so that he would have the lightest load, but eventually the only way he could keep walking was to not have to carry anything. We developed a system to keep moving. The sick man walked unburdened. Two healthy men carried the sick person’s backpack between them. The fourth man rotated in to help carry the extra backpack every five minutes. This way, each healthy member had ten minutes carrying an extra load, and then a five minute break. Eventually, our sick man felt better, and we had a successful trip, but if there had just been one or two of us, we would not have made it.
Sharing the load is one way Jesus has for us to lighten the load. Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 11:29-30).
©2011 Paul Tillman