Bear Each Other’s Burdens

Q. I heard a pastor preaching on Galatians 6:2 (bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ). He strongly recommended sharing our most hurtful experiences with some one else (within the church or outside the church). And if some one wanted to share their hurtful experience with me, I should just listen and not judge or try solving their problem. I don’t think “manufacturing” the condition of bearing one another’s burden proves that we fulfill the law of Christ. This pastor preaches about grace and the freedom we have in Christ, but then lays yokes like this upon his congregation. This sounds like a good topic to preach about, but I don’t think taking on more burdens to fulfill the law is what was intended in this verse. I would like to know your thoughts.

A. Let’s take Galatians 6:1-5 as a unit to get the proper context.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load.

By doing this we can see the context more clearly. Verse 1 shows it’s about the proper way to restore a person who has been caught in a sin. Paul cautioned those restoring such a person do so gently, taking care that they not be tempted as well. I see the phrase “carry each other’s burdens” in verse 2 in the sense of showing empathy rather than being critical or judgmental. Verse 3 seems to confirm this saying, “If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.” The correct attitude should be “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Also 1 John 5:16 tells us that a brother’s sin creates a prayer burden for us.

Then verses 4-5 tell us to test our own actions without comparing ourselves to any one else because we all should carry our own load. If you don’t take all five verses as a unit, verses 2 and 5 are contradictory.

Like you, I don’t see this passage teaching us to voluntarily share our most hurtful experiences with others.

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