Bear you one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The Galatians have been hankering after the Law of Judaism, as though some counsels of perfection could be found therein for adding higher virtue to the graces of Christianity. "If you want a law," says St. Paul, "take this rule of mutual sympathy - bear ye one another's burdens." Christ has his law, then, after all. It is not a ceremonial observance, but it is high enough for the ambition of the noblest self-sacrifice.
I. CHRIST EXPECTS US TO TAKE DEEP INTEREST IN ONE ANOTHER. Christianity is unselfish. To think that all we have to do is to save our own souls is to misunderstand the religion of Christ completely. He who would thus save his soul will lose it. The gospel is a gospel to us just because it calls us out of ourselves and leads us to deny ourselves and practise active charity.
II. OUR SPECIAL INTEREST SHOULD BE DRAWN TOWARDS THE TROUBLES OF OTHERS. The burdens are to be our concern. How large a share of life they cover!
1. Burdens of sin. These seem to be uppermost in the mind of St. Paul (ver. 1). As Christ bore our sin, we are to bear our neighbour's; i.e. make it our trouble and anxiety, and a thing we labour at removing.
2. Burdens of sorrow. The trouble of our brother will be ours if we are members one of another.
3. Burdens of care. Fear and anxiety are magnified inloneliness. We can see the forlorn suffer from being quite desolate.
4. Burdens of doubt. Do not brand the doubter as a heretic. Enter into his difficulties. Discuss them frankly as with your brother.
III. IT IS OUR DUTY TO BEAR THESE BURDENS. The scribes bound heavy burdens grievous to be borne on the shoulders of their victims, and would not so much as touch them with their little fingers. The example of these men has been too often followed by the teachers of the Church. Yet God knows the burdens of life are heavy enough without our adding to them. Our part is to lighten them. This is a serious, practical work, and not a matter of humanitarian sentiment. We must take the burdens on ourselves till we feel the weight of them.
1. By sympathy. Real sympathy, and not mocking pity, makes another's trouble one's own. It takes the heaviest weight from the load - the dull, crushing sense of loneliness. The burden is lightened by being shared.
2. By active relief. When once we feel the burden we shall wish to remove it. Bearing it, we shall do all in our power to bear it away. Thus Christian sympathy produces active philanthropy.
IV. TO BEAR ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS IS TO FULFIL THE LAW OF CHRIST. It is required by Christ. We are disobedient to him if we neglect the duty. And to fulfil it is to satisfy Christ. In face of this plain duty there is an unreality amounting almost to hypocrisy in the effort to live a holy life by practising artificial, ascetic self-denial, as if enough could not be found in the common walks of life and in ways of plain usefulness. How absurd to wear a hair shirt and lash one's self with scourges instead of taking the self-denial in the less romantic but more Christ-like way of helping the sick and ignorant and fallen!
"The trivial round, the common task,
Will furnish all we ought to ask -
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God?" W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.