“You Can Bear It” Series #2
TEXT: Gal. 6:1-5; Ex. 28:29
INTRO: Mario Cuomo told the story of when he was a young boy, they had just moved into this new home in Holliswood, New York when a terrible storm blew in. They had this beautiful blue spruce that stood almost 40 feet tall blow over in the storm. It had been almost completely uprooted, lying over on its side with the top on the asphalt street outside. His father ran outside and said, "ok, we gonna push em up." As a boy, Mario challenged his father and said it couldn't be saved; it was out of the ground! His father said it would grow again; they would push it back up. Sure enough, after pulling it back up and digging a new hole for the roots to settle back into, the tree grew again ... today it is over 65 feet tall! They restored it!
Americans love to restore things ... we fix antiques, automobiles, houses, tools, etc. we are great at restoring things, but we often ignore people!
God calls us to "bear one another's burdens" ... meaning the heavy loads that some people have upon them; even to restore those who are fallen. Not only are we called to bear fruit, we are called to bear burdens!
PROP. SENT: God's people are called upon to bear one another's burdens.
I. BEARING OTHER'S BURDENS Gal. 6:1-3; Ex. 28:29
A. Restoration Gal. 6:1
1. The fact is that even as Christians we have moments of pain and wrong doing!
a. The term here about being “caught in a sin” or as it is in the KJV "be overtaken in a fault" refers to a lapse of faith into sin ... an act that is not so much habitual as it is a single act.
b. The concept of surprise is almost hinted at ... in other words, the person who sinned did so out of weakness and a poor choice ... not out of a long term habit or rebellion.
c. Restoration for those involved in a habitual issue requires responsibilities and accountability along with forgiveness.
2. The call in this verse is the call for restoration ... the word in Greek means, "to put a dislocated bone back in place" ... "To mend or fix."
a. Notice the way we are to restore this person ... "with gentleness!"
b. The person who has sinned must already have a sense of guilt, the next verse clearly implies this ... someone already broken by their sin does not need a hard approach, they need loving support!
3. The goal is restoration, not retribution!
4. The person is not absolved from responsibility, but they are not to be beat up on either when they are clearly broken and contrite!
a. Notice the warnings about pride here ... it can be just as easy for you to walk in their shoes. "But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." 6:1b
b. We are all capable of sin!
c. We should treat them as we would want to be treated if we had fallen!
5. The Bible states that "love covers a multitude of sins."
ILLUS: ON MONDAY, AUGU5T 9, 1993 A 31 YEAR OLD WOMAN NAMED SOPHIA MARDRESS WHITE BURST INTO A HOSPITAL NURSERY AT USC MEDICAL CENTER IN LOS ANGELES SWINGING A .38 CALIBER HANDGUN. SHE CAME GUNNING FOR ELIZABETH STATEN, A NURSE WHOM SHE ACCUSED OF STEALING HER HUSBAND. WHITE FIRED 6 SHOTS AT STATEN, HITTING HER IN THE STOMACH AND THE WRIST, SHE THEN FLED AND WHITE RAN AFTER HER. THEY ENDED UP IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM WHERE SHE WAS READY TO START SHOOTING AGAIN, BUT A ANOTHER NURSE ON DUTY NAMED JOAN BLACK BLOCKED HER FROM SHOOTING THE NOW BLOOD SOAKED STATEN. BLACK SIMPLY WALKED UP TO WHITE AND DID THE UNTHINKABLE ... SHE WALKED UP TO HER AND SIMPLY HUGGED HER, WHITE WAS STILL HOLDING THE GUN IN HER HAND, FINGER ON THE TRIGGER. AS BLACK CONTINUED TO HUG HER, SHE STARTED TO LIFT THE GUN AS THOUGH TO SHOOT HERSELF, BUT BLACK PUSHED HER HAND BACK DOWN AND SAID, "YOU'RE IN PAIN, I'M SORRY, BUT EVERYBODY HAS PAIN IN THEIR LIFE ... I UNDERSTAND, WE CAN WORK IT OUT." AT LAST WHITE GAVE THE GUN TO MS. BLACK ... DISARMED BY LOVE AND A HUG! LATER BLACK WAS INTERVIEWED AND SHE SAID THIS, "I SAW A SICK PERSON AND HAD TO TAKE CARE OF HER." AFTER ALL SHE WAS A NURSE! HER WILLINGNESS TO LOVE AND HUG THIS ANGRY PERSON HAD SAVED THE LIFE OF STATEN ... AND OPENED THE DOOR FOR HEALING ... DISARMED BY LOVE! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
B. Relationships! Gal. 6:2-3, Ex. 28:29
1. The verb used here for "carry" literally translates, "be ready to carry"...
a. Part of being a Christian is the call to help one another!
b. This is the call of relationships ... the believer does not exist alone!
c. This kind of "help" can only happen where we are connected ... in church to one another!
d. It is nonsense for someone to call themselves a "Christian" and not attend church! Jesus died for His bride ... the church. There were warnings in Scripture to not forsake assembling together! (Especially as we see the "day of the Lord" drawing near ... a reference to the coming of Christ!) Heb. 10:25 "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
e. You can't be part of the body of Christ by yourself! Just as a toe, finger, or any other part of your body can live on its own and apart from the body ... you can't either as a believer!
2. We were never meant to "go it alone" as a Christian!
a. It is not alright to call yourself a Christian and avoid the church!
b. The concept of western individualism is foreign in the pages of Scripture!
3. The greatest testimony of Christianity is the way we sacrifice ourselves for others ... the way we help to carry the burdens of one another ... even at the expense of personal fortune at times! Jesus Himself said this is how people would even know that we were His disciples ... how well we love one another! John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
ILLUS: FATHER MAXIMILIAN KOLBE IS A NAME KNOWN AMONGST THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN CONCENTRATION CAMPS IN WORLD WAR II. HE WAS A PRISONER AT AUSCHWITZ IN AUGUST 1941. A PRISONER HAD ESCAPED THE CAMP AND IN REPRISAL THE GERMANS ORDERED THAT 10 PRISONERS HAD TO DIE BY STARVATION AS THE PENALTY OF SOMEONE ESCAPING. FATHER KOLBE OFFERED TO TAKE THE PLACE OF ONE OF THE PRISONERS THAT HAD BEEN CHOSEN FOR DEATH, AND THE NAZI'S ACCEPTED THE TRADE! THEY KEPT KOLBE IN THE STARVATION BUNKER FOR 2 WEEKS AND THEN PUT HIM TO DEATH BY LETHAL INJECTION ON AUGUST 14, 1941. 30 YEARS LATER, A SURVIVOR FROM AUSCHWITZ DESCRIBED THE EFFECT FATHER KOLBE’S ACTIONS HAD ON THE CAMP, "IT WAS AN ENORMOUS SHOCK TO THE WHOLE CAMP. WE BECAME AWARE THAT SOMEONE AMONG US IN THIS SPIRITUALLY DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL WAS RAISING THE STANDARD OF LOVE ON HIGH. Someone unknown, like everyone else, tortured and bereft of name and social standing went to a horrible death for the sake of someone not even related to him. Therefore, it was not true, we cried, that humanity is cast down and trampled in the mud, overcome by oppressors, and overwhelmed by hopelessness. Thousands of prisoners were convinced the true world continued to exist and that our torturers would not be able to destroy it.” One man’s act of love to carry the burden of another brought hope and light in the darkest moments of existence. – source unknown
4. Paul calls on the believers here who are mature to be willing to carry the "burdens" of others...
a. There are two Greek words translated "burden" in this verse and verse 5, in our English version they are both simply translated "burden" but they are two different kinds of burden!
b. The "burden" here is the Greek word; “baros” -- it has the meaning of a very heavy burden ... probably of some moral failure type ... meaning a heavy shame and guilt!
c. This person referred to in verse 1 was under a very heavy burden of sin, shame, guilt! This was a weight large enough to break someone, to weigh them down so they can't move!
5. We are to carry one another's burdens of this type ... the heavy burdens that others carry that have them weighed down with guilt, shame, and anguish of soul!
a. This does imply that the guilty party is broken, accepting responsibility and accountable.
b. This is the greatest law fulfilled! This will fulfill the love of Christ!
c. The laws of Moses might bring condemnation, but the law of Christ brings forgiveness and healing ... a lifting of the burden!
6. There is no room for arrogance in the family of God when someone is broken, we are there to lift each other up, not put each other down!
a. The worst kind of pride is spiritual pride!
b. Those that are weighted down don't need lectures, they need love!
ILLUS: A CERTAIN BRAGGART WAS TELLING OTHERS HOW WONDERFUL HE WAS, HOW MUCH HE HAS ACCOMPLISHED, AND HE ENDED IT WITH THIS, "I'LL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT I'M A SELF-MADE MAN!" ONE OF THOSE WHO HEARD HIM SAY THIS RESPONDED WITH, "WELL, I'M GLAD TO HEAR THAT ... IT CERTAINLY RELIEVES THE CREATOR OF A TREMENDOUS RESPONSIBILITY!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
7. Notice that even in the Old Testament (Ex. 28:29) Aaron was to wear a breastplate with the names of the tribes of Israel (the 12 tribes' names) when he entered the Holy Place ... he was to "bear" their names in the presence of God, to carry their burdens over his heart!
a. Do we really pray for one another, or simply use that as an expression?
b. How about setting aside one day a week to pray for others, nothing in that day for youself!
c. What would happen in the body of Christ if we began to bear one another's burdens with real passion and commitment?
8. The man that thinks he is something when he is really nothing is self-deceived the Apostle Paul states!
a. What is important in the kingdom of God is to be burden bearers!
b. Status means nothing in God's eyes ... importance comes from serving and loving!
c. We can sound spiritual, have all the gifts of the Spirit ... but if we don't carry one another's burdens in love ... we ARE nothing!
d. It doesn't mean that you have “done nothing” … but the verse clearly says that you “are nothing!” 1 Cor 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (Underlined for emphasis by me) This is an important distinction!
II. BEARING OWN BURDENS Gal. 6:4-5
A. Responsibility Gal. 6:4
1. Paul now turns his attention to the individual ... that we are each responsible to test ourselves, not others!
a. Before we get worked up over others, how are we doing in that same area?
b. Actually, Paul's point here is for us to only look at ourselves ... then if we are doing a good job we have a right to a healthy pride over self (self-esteem, not boasting pride!) (Gal. 6:4a) -- without comparing ourselves with others!
c. Our actions should be tested alone, not against others!
2. We are not good standards to use against each other ... this will end in a futile exercise of arrogant pride or self-debasement!
a. The question is never, "How am I doing compared to someone else?"... It is "How am I doing – period!"
b. There is such a thing as healthy pride too ... this is pride that comes from knowing you are pleasing God, not in relationship to how well you are doing compared with someone else.
3. We must be happy with ourselves ... we cannot make ourselves happy based on someone else or something else!
ILLUS: IN A COMEDY FILM WITH JOHN CANDY CALLED "COOL RUNNINGS" THERE IS A BOBSLED TEAM FROM JAMAICA THAT IS GOING TO BE THE FIRST FROM THAT COUNTRY TO ENTER THE WINTER OLYMPICS. THE PLAYERS GOT A FORMER GOLD MEDALIST (JOHN CANDY) TO COACH THEM. THE DARK SIDE OF JOHN CANDY'S CHARACTER HOWEVER FINALLY COMES OUT AS THE STORY UNFOLDS ... THOUGH HE HAD WON A GOLD MEDAL BEFORE, DURING ANOTHER OLYMPICS GAME HE WAS CAUGHT CHEATING AND DISGRACED HIMSELF AND THE U.S. TEAM. ONE OF THE JAMAICAN BOBSLEDDERS COULD NOT UNDERSTAND WHY A MAN WHO HAD IN AN EARLIER OLYMPICS WON A GOLD MEDAL TRY TO CHEAT TO WIN ANOTHER ONE! CANDY EXPLAINED WITH THE FOLLOWING OBSERVATION THAT IS SO TRUE, "I HAD TO WIN, I LEARNED SOMETHING, IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY WITHOUT A GOLD MEDAL, YOU WON'T BE HAPPY WITH ONE!" HE NEEDED TO LOOK INTO HIMSELF, NOT TO OTHERS! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. In fulfilling our responsibilities before God, we build self-esteem and are then stronger to help carry other people's burdens too!
5. Paul is not contradicting himself here to what was said earlier, he is helping us understand the need for personal responsibilities in the over-all scheme of personal growth ... to be strong to help others!
B. Reasonable Gal. 6:5
1. Here is where Paul adds the second thought about BURDEN BEARING ... that we should bear our "own burden" also!
a. The word used here for "burden" is completely different from the one used in verse 2 ... here the Greek word is “phortion,” not “baros.”
b. “baros” meant "heavy burden" ... “phortion” means just “burden” as in "normal burden," probably a reference to the regular grind of day to day responsibilities.
c. Thus Paul is saying that when it comes to the "normal" burdens, we are to carry our own load, but when it comes to "heavy" burdens, we are to carry one another's!
d. It is not right for other people to expect that you "take care" of them if they are not doing what they should be doing to provide for themselves.
2. It is reasonable to expect that we will each carry the normal load of burdens without adding this to others ... but when we are struck with those "heavy" burdens we are to share these in love!
3. Sometimes in the course of carrying our own load of responsibilities, we help give an example to others that will help them learn to carry their load also!
ILLUS: DR. GEORGE TRUETT WAS PRESSING THE CLAIMS OF CHRIST ON A YOUNG MAN WHO WAS NOT A CHRISTIAN. THE BOY'S FATHER WAS A VERY DISTINGUISHED DOCTOR IN THE AREA AND WELL RESPECTED. THE BOY NEARLY WORSHIPPED HIS FATHER, THOUGH THE FATHER WAS NOT A CHRISTIAN. AFTER THEY HAD TALKED FOR A WHILE THE BOY SPOKE TO THE MINISTER AND SAID THIS, “THE BEST MAN IN THIS CITY IS NOT A CHRISTIAN, WHY SHOULD I BE ONE?" THE NEXT DAY WAS SUNDAY; THE PASTOR DECIDED TO GO SEE THE DOCTOR AND SO MADE AN APPOINTMENT. WITH A GREAT BURDEN ON HIS HEART HE SHARED THE COMMENTS WITH THIS DOCTOR THAT HIS SON HAD SHARED WITH HIM AS A PASTOR. HE SAID TO THIS DOCTOR “DO YOU KNOW SIR THAT YOU ARE KEEPING SOMEONE ELSE OUT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD?” THE DOCTOR RESPONDED WITH, “WHAT DO YOU MEan?” THE PASTOR SAID, “I MEAN THAT YOUR BOY TOLD ME YOU WERE THE BEST MAN IN THIS CITY, AND THAT AS YOU DID NOT SEEM TO NEED CHRIST IN ORDER TO BE SAVEd, HE DID NOT SEE WHY HE SHOULD!” A LITTLE STUNNED AT THIS NEWS, THE DOCTOR SAID, “DID MY BOY SAY THAT?” “HE CERTAINLY DID” REPLIED THE PASTOR. THEN THE DOCTOR ASKED, “Pastor, what is the first service in your church at which I could make a public confession of Christ?” the pastor and him worked out a time that fit the doctor’s schedule and sure enough that evening at 8:00 the doctor and his son arrived in church. When the hour came to respond to the altar call … the doctor rose from his seat and walked forward to confess Christ as his lord, openly showing his need of Christ as savior. Suddenly the pastor noticed the doctor’s son stand from his seat and slowly raise his hand to accept christ too … in a few moments later, he stepped out and stood next to this father at the altar to publically receive jesus Christ as lord … what joy came to both father and son as together they received Christ. The father’s willingness to accept his own personal responsibility before god had CHALLENGED his son to do the same. Even the greatest man in the city needed jesus! – source unknown
4. We can help others by carrying our own burdens ... we teach them to be responsible this way!
5. This also strengthens us to then carry the "heavy" burdens of others as an act of God's love and grace!
6. Are you a burden bearer!?
CONCLUSION: One of the great characteristics of the Spirit filled church is that of carrying one another's burdens! As long as the church exists there will be burdens to carry. The knowledge that we are not alone in the struggles of faith is most encouraging ... and when God answers the need, we are together in rejoicing too!