|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-5 We are to bear one another's burdens. So we shall fulfil the law of Christ. This obliges to mutual forbearance and compassion towards each other, agreeably to his example. It becomes us to bear one another's burdens, as fellow-travellers. It is very common for a man to look upon himself as wiser and better than other men, and as fit to dictate to them. Such a one deceives himself; by pretending to what he has not, he puts a cheat upon himself, and sooner or later will find the sad effects. This will never gain esteem, either with God or men. Every one is advised to prove his own work. The better we know our own hearts and ways, the less shall we despise others, and the more be disposed to help them under infirmities and afflictions. How light soever men's sins seem to them when committed, yet they will be found a heavy burden, when they come to reckon with God about them. No man can pay a ransom for his brother; and sin is a burden to the soul. It is a spiritual burden; and the less a man feels it to be such, the more cause has he to suspect himself. Most men are dead in their sins, and therefore have no sight or sense of the spiritual burden of sin. Feeling the weight and burden of our sins, we must seek to be eased thereof by the Saviour, and be warned against every sin.
Verse 5. - For every man shall bear his own burden (ἕκαστος γὰρ τὸ ἴδιον φορτίον βαστάσει); for each man shall carry his own pack. A man's business is with his own pack; and all depends upon his carrying that, not putting it down. This "pack" (φορτίον) is the whole of the duties for the discharge of which each man is responsible. It is thus that the image is employed by our Lord (Matthew 11:30), "My yoke is easy, and my pack is light." So also in Matthew 23:4, "For they tie up packs heavy and hard to carry, and lay them upon men's shoulders." The phrase, τὸ ἴδιον φορτίον, "the pack which is individually his own," implies that men's responsibilities vary, each one having such as are peculiar to himself. This "pack" is to be carefully distinguished from the "heavy loads" (βάρη) of ver. 2, Our Christian obligations Christ makes, to them who serve him well, light; but our burdens of remorse, shame, grief, loss, which are of our own wilful procuring, these may be, must needs be, heavy. One part of our "pack" of obligation is to help each other in bearing these "heavy loads;" and we shall find our joy and crown of glorying in doing so; not only in the approval of our own consciences and in the consciousness of Christ's approval, but also in the manifold refreshments of mutual Christian sympathy. On the other hand, our Christian responsibilities, including these of mutual sympathy and succour, we must not attempt to evade. One man is able to do more for others than another man can; the truly "spiritual" man, for example, can do that which others may not even attempt to touch: each one has his own part and duty. And Christ's mot d'ordre to all his workmen, or possibly the apostle means to all his soldiers, is this: "Every man carry his own pack!" The future tense of the verb "shall carry" does not point to some future time, but to the absoluteness of the law for all time; as in Galatians 2:16 (see Winer, 'Gram. N. T.,' § 40, p. 251, 6th edit.). The varying turn given to the same general image of carrying burdens in ver. 2 and here is quite in St. Paul's manner. Compare, for example, in 2 Corinthians 3. the varying turn given to the images of "epistle" and "veil."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For every man shall bear his own burden. That is, either do his own work, which God has allotted him to do, whether in a more public or private station of life; which, because it is generally troublesome to the flesh, is called a "burden", and "his own", being peculiar to himself, and in which no other is concerned; and which he should patiently bear, cheerfully attend to, and constantly and faithfully perform while in this world: or he shall give an account of his own actions, and not another's, to God, in the other world; he shall be judged according to his own works, what they are in themselves, and not by a comparison of other men's, who have been more wicked than he; which will be no rule of judgment with God, nor of any advantage to man. Every wicked man will bear his own burden; that is, the punishment of his own sins, and not another's; so the judgments of God, inflicted on men in this world, are often called "a burden"; see Isaiah 13:1 and so may the punishment of the wicked in another world, which will be grievous and intolerable. The saints will be exempt from bearing this burden, because Christ has bore it for them, even all their sins, and all the punishment due unto them; but another burden, if it may be so called, even an exceeding and eternal weight of glory, shall be bore by them; and every man shall receive his own reward, and not another's; and that according to his own works and labour, and not another's; not indeed for his works, but according to them, the nature of them, according to the grace of God, from whence his works spring, and by which they are performed. This the apostle says to take off men from dwelling upon, and censuring the actions of others, and from making use of them to set off their own, and buoy themselves up with vain hopes, because they are better than others; and also to engage them to attend strictly to their own actions, and consider them simply and absolutely as in themselves, and not as compared with other men's, since they will be accountable for their own actions, and not other men's; and will be judged according to their own works, and not in a comparative view to others.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. For (by this way, Ga 6:4, of proving himself, not depreciating his neighbor by comparison) each man shall bear his own "burden," or rather, "load" (namely, of sin and infirmity), the Greek being different from that in Ga 6:2. This verse does not contradict Ga 6:2. There he tells them to bear with others' "burdens" of infirmity in sympathy; here, that self-examination will make a man to feel he has enough to do with "his own load" of sin, without comparing himself boastfully with his neighbor. Compare Ga 6:3. Instead of "thinking himself to be something," he shall feel the "load" of his own sin: and this will lead him to bear sympathetically with his neighbor's burden of infirmity. ÆSOP says a man carries two bags over his shoulder, the one with his own sins hanging behind, that with his neighbor's sins in front.
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