Sunday Evening Bible Study
September 15, 1996
Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.
We've now begun a section where Paul is teaching our responsibilities to each other, when a person stumbles into sin.
(Gal 6:1 KJV) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Rather than shoot the wounded, we are to restore them.
:2 Bear ye one another's burdens,
Bear - bastazo - to take up with the hands; to take up in order to carry or bear, to put upon one's self (something) to be carried
It's used in:
Ac 3:2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; (AV)
The people that "carried" the lame man "bore" him.
burdens - baros - heaviness, weight, burden, trouble
It refers to a heaviness in weight, a heaviness that can be oppressive.
It's a different word than the word used in verse 5:
(Gal 6:5 KJV) For every man shall bear his own burden.
There, the word "burden" is phortion , which also means "burden", but one that isn't necessarily oppressive or too large. It's a "diminutive" form of another word that means "burden" or "load of a ship", diminutive meaning smaller in size as "kitchenette" or "duckling" instead of "kitchen" or "duck". We might call it a "burdenette".
In other words, we are to lift or carry each other's oppressive loads, helping each other out when it gets too hard to handle.
What are the "burdens"?
I think we need to keep the context in mind.
It's at least the faults, the sins that we can get caught up in, the things where we need a friend to reach out a hand to help us out of.
But I think it covers more than just sin.
Dr. Halbeck, a missionary of the Church of England in the South of Africa, from the top of a neighboring hill saw lepers at work. He noticed two particularly, sowing peas in the field. One had no hands; the other had no feet: these members being wasted away by disease. The one who wanted the hands was carrying the other, who wanted the feet, upon his back; and he again carried the bag of seed, and dropped a pea every now and then, which the other pressed into the ground with his feet: and so they managed the work of one man between the two. Such should be the true union of the members of Christ's body, in which all the members should have the same care one for another.
Last spring, Mr. Alter's fifth-grade class at Lake Elementary School in Oceanside, California, included fourteen boys who had no hair. Only one, however, had no choice in the matter.
Ian O'Gorman, undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, faced the prospect of having his hair fall out in clumps. So he had his head shaved. But then 13 of his classmates shaved their heads, so Ian wouldn't feel out of place.
"If everybody has his head shaved, sometimes people don't know who's who," said 11-year-old Scott Sebelius in an Associated Press story (March 1994). "They don't know who has cancer, and who just shaved their head."
Ten-year-old Kyle Hanslik started it all. He talked to some other boys, and before long they all trekked to the barber shop. "The last thing he would want is to not fit in," said Kyle. "We just wanted to make him feel better."
Her little girl was late arriving home from school, so the mother began to scold her:
"Why are you so late?"
"I had to help another girl. She was in trouble."
"What did you do to help her?"
"Oh, I sat down and helped her cry."
-- Anonymous from Forbes Magazine, July 17, 1995, p. 344.
:2 and so fulfil the law of Christ.
the law of Christ - isn't it interesting that Paul has spent the entire letter telling his readers that they are not to live "under the law", and now he turns around and tells them that there is a "law" they are to live under?
Charles Ryrie: "Living under grace is not license; it is a life of love and service" (5:6, 13).
What is "the law of Christ"?
It's easy, it's Jesus' "new" commandment:
(John 13:34 KJV) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Lee Iacocca once asked legendary football coach Vince Lombardi what it took to make a winning team. The book Iacocca records Lombardi's answer:
There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don't win the game. Then you come to the third ingredient: if you're going to play together as a team, you've got to care for one another. You've got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself "If I don't block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well in order that he can do his."
The difference between mediocrity and greatness, Lombardi said that night, is the feeling these guys have for each other.
-- Christopher Stinnett, Leadership Magazine, Vol. 15:3,Walled Lake, Michigan, Summer 1994, p. 49.
Now we can kind of get a different glimpse of what it means to love each other like Jesus loves us.
One of the ways we do it is to bear one another's burdens.
It's to be a part of restoring each other as we stumble and fall.
Be a restorer.
A lot of people gave Chuck Smith a lot of flack when he reached out to David Hocking a few years back.
David had been in a prominent ministry, with a nationwide radio program, and many books to his credit.
Yet he had a moral fall, inappropriate behavior while counseling a woman in her home.
It hit the newspapers.
His church board asked him to resign.
Many people under his ministry were devastated.
He was publicly humiliated.
But Chuck sought him ought, prayed with him, began counseling with him, and David began attending Calvary Chapel.
Some people thought that Chuck was making some kind of power play, taking in a big, prominent, but vulnerable man under his wing.
But Chuck seemed to ignore what others thought and kept loving him, and sought to restore him.
David and his wife Carol would sit in the front row every Sunday.
And after a few months, Chuck allowed David to begin teaching a Bible Study at Calvary Chapel.
Many churches felt that David should never ever be allowed to minister again.
I understand that some even boycotted the Harvest Crusade that year because of Chuck's ministry to David.
But if you've listened to David tell his testimony about the entire situation, you'd see that David was a truly repentant man, truly grieved over his sin and it's consequences.
And Chuck was simply doing what we too need to be doing, obeying Galatians 6:1-2, and restoring a man who had been overtaken in a fault.
Allow others to help you.
This is a touchy subject.
But sometimes when we find ourselves being the one who has fallen, it's a hard thing to allow others to help.
But it's the way of Jesus.
It's the law of Jesus.
The following letter demonstrates how much we fear letting people know how much we sometimes are hurting.
Dear Ann Landers:
I read an item in the Chicago Tribune recently that stunned me. It said the most frequently shoplifted item in America's drugstores is Preparation H. I never would have guessed it.
-- Ann Landers, 7-12-90
Elton Trueblood, in The Yoke of Christ, speaks of "The courage to care," and sums it up thus:
This then is the advice to give anybody who never wants to be hurt: don't care! Don't care and then nobody can ever say, "I told you so." Don't care and you cannot be wounded because of the caring. If you don't want to be hurt, don't marry, then you can't lose. If you never want to be hurt, don't have a child. A child whom you love so much could be a terrible disappointment. If you never want to be hurt, don't enter the church. Even this redemptive fellowship, on which Christ depends, can itself be disappointing and manifestly unworthy. Don't care and then you will be safe. But those who take this road to safety pay a heavy price, the price of turning their backs upon all of the best things in life.
-- Elton Trueblood, The Yoke of Christ (Harper, 1965).