While many people assume Austin and I met through church or some kind of faith community, we actually met in college speech. The first time we locked eyes was my freshman year and his junior year. I was pursuing someone else at the time, and as he explains, he was waiting to pounce. For months, he dropped constant hints I just couldn’t seem to catch: giving me a pet name, inviting me to football games, and carrying my VA’s.
Quick explanation. We sometimes use visual aids, or VA’s, in college speech to help
demonstrate whatever we are trying to communicate. They’re typically carried in a black case half the size of my body. If Austin and I were at the same tournament, he never let me carry my VA’s, picking them up and taking them from room to room no matter the inconvenience to him.
This small gesture was the first of Austin’s continual desire to bear my burdens. But he is not the only one entrusted with this responsibility. Galatians is so clear.
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Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
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We have been given one another for this purpose! We are so often told that we are meant to walk through this world on our own–left to figure out our next step and get over our hardships via getting over it. That just doesn’t seem like the right way though, right? There is a reason we love community so: we were created for it. Let’s look at this passage in Galatians. Let’s understand God’s design for the church and how we can move toward it. For our own good and others’.
Gently assist one another.
If Austin approached me and said, “You’re way too weak to carry those,” and forced the VA’s out of my hands, our love story would have likely never started. Pointing out another’s flaws does not typically make for the beginning of a great relationship. Rather, he gently approached me, asked if he could assist me, and joined me on my walk to ensure I got there as easily as possible.
In the same way, why would we expect it to go well when we harshly point out a brother or sister’s transgressions? Yes, we are absolutely called to call each other out. But that has to be done in a spirit of gentleness and love. Only then truly assist one another in ridding ourselves of the sins that hold us back from moving from “one degree of glory to the next.”
Bear one another’s burdens.
Moreover, are we really caring for one another if we are only calling each other out? What is the purpose if we are not willing to bear each other’s burdens? There are a few areas we must be willing to do this:
- Bearing one another’s burdens of temptation. (Galatians 6:2)
- Bearing one another’s sadness. (Philippians 2:4)
- Bearing one another’s physical burdens. (1 Timothy 5:8)
In one of Jesus’s parables, He explained to His people that whatever they did for His church, they in-turn did for Him. Throughout God’s Word, there is a continual theme of serving each other as we serve Christ as a means of serving Christ. That is a hard thing to do in our overly individualistic society. We are raised to think that we first have to care for ourselves before caring for another, but that principle is not what the Bible communicates. Jesus literally took on all the punishment for our sin without even attempting to rid Himself of that burden. He could have so easily given up His horrific death at any point. Yet He chose to endure our deserved pain.
So then, why do we insist on looking down on our brothers and sisters’ sin without offering to aid in getting out of it? Why do we refuse to ask each other how we are really doing, because we fear an uncomfortable answer? Why are we so fearful to help someone out financially or physically because we are afraid we might be cheated? Do we not cheat our Savior every day by spitting in the face of his sacrifice?
We have been given so much. Yet we continually choose to keep that gift for ourselves rather than passing it on as we are commanded.
Recognize where we stand.
The last verse of this passage is one of those that cuts deep every time: “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Sisters. Brothers if you are reading. We did nothing to earn our salvation. No matter how much we do to convince ourselves we are “good people,” we must also recognize that we are sinners.
Our attempts to be good people are merely the manifestation of our desire to get through this world on our own. We do so to reject the One who tells us He is the “way, the truth, and the life.” Whether we admit it or not, we try so hard to get to gain our own eternal life or recognition via either another means completely or another means and Jesus. For me that often looks like trying to hide my sin, trying to gain the status of a prime church member, or trying to be seen as the most knowledgeable about scripture.
Yet without Jesus, all these things are but dirty rags. When I do them only for my own recognition, they merely exemplify my pride. They are meant to be done not through my own power, but through God’s power alone.
I am not capable of bearing your burdens on my own. You are not capable of bearing my burdens on your own. Austin may be able to carry my VA’s, but his ability to care for me in the way God intended can be done only through the power and the blood of Jesus. I am so grateful that I have my husband, my family, and the Church to bear my burdens. I am constantly reminded that I am not alone in this world. That was His design.
If today you need someone to bear your burdens, find a brother or sister in Christ to get vulnerable with. If you need someone’s burdens to bear, walk in public and look around. We are all either in the middle of something, coming out of it, or going in. Maybe all three. That is why we were given one another.
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Well friends, that concludes our study of Galatians! Thank you so much for joining me on this journey, but it isn’t ending yet. Next Monday I will be starting our next study over a new book. If you have any suggestions, send me a message or comment. I am so excited to keep sharing what God is teaching me through His Word and through my marriage.