An airline company was disturbed over a high percentage of accidents, so they decided to eliminate human errors by building a completely computerized plane. "Ladies and gentlemen," came a voice over the PA during the initial flight, "It may interest you to know that you are traveling in the world's first completely automated and computerized plane. Now just sit back and relax, because nothing can go wrong....go wrong....go wrong....go wrong....."
We all know that things can and do go wrong in life. And you don't have to live very long in this world to find this out. And for some people, things seem to go wrong more often than not. Life can be very difficult. Bad things happen to Christian people. Many times we have to suffer in life. We may have to suffer physically, emotionally or mentally. Believers, everybody suffers in some form or another in this life or for some reason or another! Life can be very rough! Solomon put it this way:
Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 (NKJV) For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? 23 For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.
We may experience rotten or broken marriages, problem or prodigal children, painful and abusive parents, bad working conditions, financial hardships, poor or failing health, boredom, depression, loneliness, loss of loved ones...... and the list goes on and on. We all have burdens to carry in this life. In Galatians 5 Paul talks about life's burdens and how we are to deal with them:
Galatians 6:1-5 (NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.
What can we do about our trials or temptations? Or how can we endure the temptations and trials of life? WE NEED HELP! Where does our help come from? Three sources; others, ourselves, and our God.
1. We are to help each other in bearing life's burdens.
The main point of Galatians 6:1-5 is given in a general way in verse 2 and a specific way in verse 1. Verse 2: "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." If a Christian brother or sister is weighed down or menaced by some burden or threat, we are be alert to that and quickly do something to help. Don't let them be crushed. Don't let them be destroyed. Don't be like the scribes and Pharisees:
Matthew 23:4 (NKJV) "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Don't increase the burdens of others. Make them lighter for people. Some of you wonder what you are supposed to do with your life. Here is a vocation that will bring you more satisfaction than if you became a millionaire: Develop the extraordinary skill for detecting the burdens of others and devote yourself daily to making them lighter.
That is the main point given in a general way in verse two; bear each other's burdens. But in verse one Paul had given one specific kind of burden and how to help a person bear it. "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass." We tend to think of burdens as sickness, unemployment, loss of a loved one, loneliness, rejection, etc.; and the people who bear them as victims. That is right. And if we are controlled by the Spirit, we will be about the business of bearing those burdens. But Paul shows us in verse 1 that burdens include trespasses - sin!
The absolute truth of the matter is that all men are sinners. The Bible says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom 3:23). Sin is certainly a reality in every Christian's life. John says, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (I John 1:8, 10). "For we all stumble in many things."(James 3:2)
The question is not on the reality of sin, but rather what are we to do when our brother sins? At the heart of the matter, sin is a crack in the wall of holiness and purity. Without these two items in our personal lives, we are stamped null and void in our usefulness and service to God. This is the penalty of sin in the life of a believer.
Sin does not have to be a willful and deliberate rebellion against God. It is often, as the text above indicates, a "trespass". This is the Greek word paraptoma, which has the basic idea of: "stumbling or falling." Most often the Christian does not commit the trespass with premeditation but, on the contrary, fails to be on his guard or perhaps flirts with a temptation he thinks he can withstand. But just in case anyone reading this is now playing around with the wording of this verse, and saying "Well, my translation says 'trespass,' which is not as bad as sin; I mean, trespass happens sort of by accident; I mean, its a lot easier to forgive a brother if he trips and falls into sin, than if he yells "GERONIMO and jumps in with both feet and a smile - right?" No, it is talking about sin here. The Greek word "paraptomah" can mean an error, but it is also used of intentional transgression, or sin.
What is the Christian brother to do when he encounters an erring, sinful brother?
Does the text say to gossip about them to the others in the church? Are they to avoid them so their sin won't rub off on us? Are we to look down on them with contempt? No! Our text says that we are to, "restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness." For the record, restore is not old English for "reject, or burn at the stake".
When our children were young, and they fell down, their greatest, immediate need was to be "lifted up." Rarely did we say to them, "Get up by yourself"; rather, we came to their aid, helped them to their feet and embraced them with love and assurance that everything was going to be okay. So it is with our brother when he falls.
Regardless of the nature of the fall, Paul says, "you who are spiritual restore such a one." "Spiritual" refers to those believers in the Lord Jesus who are walking in and controlled by the Spirit of God. This is a reference to the inner strength and power that Christ alone gives each believer. Restoration is both impossible and impractical for those believers who are weak in the faith.
Maturity in the faith is relative, depending on one's progression and growth, but spirituality is an absolute reality that is unrelated to growth. At any point in the life of a Christian, from the moment of his salvation, he is either spiritual, walking in the Spirit; or fleshly, walking in the deeds of the flesh.
Only a spiritual man is capable of restoration, because it is a supernatural work of grace. Fleshly believers are self-centered and self serving, afraid to forgive, because they have yet to understand the true forgiveness of God:
Romans 5:8 (NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God forgave us while we were yet sinners, or in other words, when we were caught, held captive by our sins. Until we understand the true nature of His forgiveness toward us, we do not have the capacity to forgive, let alone restore others.
The word "restore" is the Greek word katartizo, which actually means: "the mending or repairing of that which is broken." It is used of the setting of a broken bone. In other words, it is an integral and necessary part of the healing process. The word "restore" is in the continuous present in the original language, suggesting patience in the process. The restoration of a sinful brother is always done by helping the brother recognize that his trespass was indeed a trespass, if he has not already done this. Until he has done this, restoration is impossible. However, once he has confessed his sin before God, turned from it in repentance, and sought God's forgiveness, it is our responsibility to restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.
This restoration is to be done in "gentleness" which carries with it the meaning of humility and meekness. We cannot be critical and judgmental as we seek biblical restoration. To do so would be to cancel the grace of Christ in our own lives:
1 Peter 5:5 (NKJV) Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
If we want God's grace, we must walk in humility; God resists the proud.
Notice the warning - "lest you also be tempted". If we are critical and carnal in our efforts to restore, we ourselves will stumble. This is a gentle, but forceful reminder that even spiritual believers can stumble and fall.
It is not enough to simply give words of encouragement and hope of our forgiveness and restoration to the now forgiven brother. We have further responsibilities. Once the brother has been restored, we must come alongside him and lead him back into fellowship by helping him. Notice what Paul says:
Galatians 6:2 (NKJV) Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The bearing of one another's burdens reminds us that no man is an island. As spiritual men and women, we are called upon to make ourselves available to our brother for accountability and encouragement. Too often it is easy to say "I love you" or "I forgive you" and then simply brush them aside. We often do this, because somewhere deep in our own spirits we fill superior to the one who has fallen.
Many years ago preacher Henry Ward Beecher went to the pulpit to preach and found a letter containing one word, "Fool." He calmly, quietly announced the contents of the letter to the congregation, saying, "I have known of people writing a letter and forgetting to sign their name to it. But this is the first time I have ever seen someone sign their name and forget to write the letter!" Brethren, Christians should be in the business of helping one another, bearing one another's burdens. But some Christians are more critical than they are caring! They are more of a hindrance than a help!
Paul says our "burden bearing" fulfills the law of Christ. What is the "law of Christ"?
Galatians 5:14 (NKJV) For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
The law of Christ is the law of love. In reverse, failure to love nullifies the work of Christ in us. Jesus said:
John 13:34 (NKJV) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Someone has rightly said that Christians are the only ones who "shoot their wounded." Gandhi of India is credited with saying, "Show me a Christian, and I will become one."
Jesus continued in verse 35 by reminding us:
John 13:35 (NKJV) "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
The way we treat those who have failed is an indication of our real relationship with the Lord Jesus. Each of us desires, craves, and wants the fellowship of Christ. We want to know that He will indeed be with us through all the circumstances of life, but too often we are slow about being a burden bearer of those whom we claim to love.
We Christians are supposed to be in the restoring business, the healing business, the putting-back-together business, the bearing-burdens business! Everybody makes mistakes in life; some appear to be more serious than others, BUT THE POINT IS: When a fellow Christians makes a mistake, is found in a sin, etc., how do we respond to them, or how do we feel about them?
So, whether it is a trial or sin, we are to help our brothers and sisters to bear the burdens of life.
One hot day, Herman Trueblood, all clean and cooled off by a nice swim in the ocean, saw a sweating man and his two sons trying on a hot day to push his disabled car up an incline. Two voices started yelling at each other inside him. One said, "There is an opportunity for service; you ought to help them push." The other voice protested, "Now that is none of your business. You will get yourself all hot and dirty. Let them handle their own affair." He finally yielded to his better impulse. He put his shoulder to the task. The car moved and kept moving.
A simple thing then happened, which Trueblood never forgot. The father stuck out his dirty hand, and Trueblood stuck out his dirty hand. The father said, "I am very glad that you came along. You had just enough strength, added to ours, to make the thing go."
"Years have passed since that hot day, but I can still hear that man saying, 'You had just enough strength, added to ours, to make the thing go,' " Trueblood reflected more recently. "There are many thousands of people struggling to get some heavy load over the hill, and I probably have 'just enough strength, added to theirs, to make the thing go.' "
Just knowing that you care, just knowing that you are there to help in any way might be all the help a person needs to make it. Believers, we are to help bear the burdens of others.
2. We are to bear our own burdens:
Galatians 6:3-5 (NKJV) For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.
Verse 5 does not contradict verse 2, because the reference there is to a heavy, crushing load. In verse 2 the word "burden" is the Greek word baros, which has the idea of more than a man could carry without help. In verse 5, the word "load" is from the Greek word phortion. This word is used to designate the pack usually carried by a marching soldier. There are certain Christian responsibilities or burdens each believer must bear which cannot be shared with others.
Paul is also saying that we have to take responsibility for our own burdens. There are many burdens that we have to bear ourselves:
2 Thessalonians 3:8 (NKJV) nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you,
A man in a supermarket was pushing a shopping cart which contained, besides groceries, a screaming baby boy. As the man proceeded down the aisles, he kept saying, "Keep calm, George. Don't get excited, George. Don't yell, George." A lady watched with great admiration and finally spoke up and said, "You are certainly to be commended for your patience in trying to quiet little George." "Lady," he said, "I'M GEORGE!"
Raising kids can be a real burden at times, and it is a burden that basically we have to bear by ourselves. Our parents can't do it for us. They may give us advice, they may babysit occasionally, but overall, raising our children is a burden that we have to bear ourselves, it is our responsibility!
The same thing is true of many things in life; our work. We may get some help for our work, but overall, it is a burden that we personally have to bear! Some help in life must come from our own brains or perhaps our own intestinal fortitude!
Over the years, the Nike shoe company has produced some great commercials. One that I particularly liked appeared over 10 years ago, it involved a runner and it was a commercial for their running shoes.
English runner, Priscilla Welch, was 42 years-old and had just won the New York City Marathon which was a pretty big accomplishment for a 42-year-old. In the commercial, Priscilla was shown running up a hill on some city sidewalk. While running, she says, "A few years ago I would have had trouble walking up this hill. I smoked. I drank. I was fat and I hadn't done a lick of exercise in my life. So I started jogging. Who says you can't run away from your problems?"
And at the end of the commercial a sign appears on the screen with those famous words, "JUST DO IT!"
Brethren, there are times when we just have to suck it up and just do it! We can't lean on anybody else! We have to roll up our sleeves and go to work!
Several years ago, 27-year-old Lance Armstrong did something nearly impossible. He won the cycling world's most famous event, the 3-week, 2700 mile Tour de France race. THAT'S 2700 MILES ON A BICYCLE!
But what makes his win even more impressive is the fact that he did it after a three-year bout with cancer! In 1996 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. By the fall, he was not racing his bike, he was trying to survive his cancer which had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain! He had two operations, including brain surgery. He endured 12-weeks of chemotherapy.
With such a burden, who could believe he would ever compete again? Well, he did. Lance Armstrong rode 30 to 50 miles every day between chemotherapy treatments. He did everything he could to regain his health and his strength - with the idea of becoming a winning cyclist again. And did he ever succeed!
Nike shoe company has run a series of ads making the point that Lance Armstrong is the "first dead man" to win the Tour de France! Brethren, Lance Armstrong bore his own burden!
Honestly, there are times when we act like a bunch of wimps or babies. We have a stuffy nose, a little headache, we didn't sleep well last night, and we want to stay home from work. Sometimes we have to ignore the pain, the hurt, the negative feelings, and bear our own burdens! We can do more than we think we can! We can endure more than we think we can! We can bear our own burdens.
Not only are we to help each other in bearing life's burdens, but we are also to bear our own burdens. As Christians, we can do both only as we:
3. Give our burdens to God.
What is the best way you can help another carry his burden and carry your own burdens? PRAYER!
Psalms 55:22 (NKJV) Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
Matthew 11:28 (NKJV) "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV) casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
A person may be able to help themselves and other human help may be good, but it is not enough! We must turn to the Lord and ask for mercy and grace for our burdens. Yesterday morning I was working on this message when I received a phone call from a dear friend's wife. She told me that they had been in an accident, and she was extremely burdened for her husband who was having back problems. I prayed with her, and when we got off the phone, I called other friends of ours and asked them to pray. Gary Hardison stopped over, and we spent time in prayer for them. We were all helping to bear their burdens by taking them to our Lord.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go." Have you been there? And have you done that - got down on your knees before the Lord?
The problem with some people is that they only turn to the Lord in emergencies. They think they don't need the Lord at other times. They treat god like he is some sort of "spare tire" to be used only in times of trouble. If we are going to help others with their burdens and also carry our own burdens, we had better be looking to the Lord for the strength to do it.
A boy and his dad were hiking together on a familiar path. As they made a sharp turn in a narrow section of the path, they came across a big rock blocking their path. The little boy asked his father, "Do you think I can move it?" His dad said, "Why, of course, if you use all your strength. I'm sure you can move it."
The little boy chose an angle of attack on the big rock and began pushing with everything he had. He grunted and groaned. Summoning all the strength he had, he pushed and pushed but to no avail. Finally, in desperation he said, "You were wrong, Dad, I just can't do it."
His dad looked him in the eyes, smiled and said, "No, son, you haven't used all your strength yet. I'm right here and you haven't asked me to help you!"
Matthew 7:11 (NKJV) "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Brethren, in the midst of all our heartaches and burdens, our Father in heaven is saying to us, "I'm right here. All you have to do is ask me to help you with your burden."
Psalms 46:1 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
Believers, the Christian life is all about love; loving God and loving each other. One of the ways we demonstrate love is by helping to bear the burdens of others. May God help us to be burden bearers and not burden makers.