In this article I want to tell a story of three bears. This story is found in Galatians 6:1-10 and 17, 18. These three bears are not animals but mean "to carry, help, or support." Have you ever heard someone say that he or she is in a state that is "unbearable?" However, God promised, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, that He will "not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it." Notice that we will be able "to bear it." What are we supposed to be able to bear?
First, we are to bear one another's burdens. Galatians 6:2. The importance of this command is shown in the phrase "and so fulfill the law of Christ." John 15:14. Verse one of Galatians 6 is the best commentary on what verse two is talking about. We find out that a burden, here, is a fault and, in helping others to bear these faults, we should do so in meekness. We "ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves," Paul says in Romans 15:1. Stories are told that in one tribe in Africa, when a child is three years old, parents reject it, refuse to feed it. The child must fend for itself or die. We think how horrible this is, and it is. However, we have often done the same thing with new converts - babes in Christ. We have baptized them (the birth process) and then left them to struggle alone. Do we do the same thing when we do not visit the sick or those in nursing homes, etc., or do not pray for them? What about those with physical, mental, or financial problems, or the needy? If we do not pray for them and help them, are we not leaving them to fend for themselves? Do we immediately begin to "nit-pick" at everything about the new convert or do we help him or her to grow in faith? The first time we meet David, he was carrying the head of a giant in his hand and was a hero to the people. However, some time later, David was a fugitive from the king and all of the compliments were gone. His encouragers diminished when he really needed them. On the other hand we see the greatness of Jonathan when he went "into the wood and strengthened" the hand of David "in God." It is no surprise that, later, David wanted to show kindness to the house of Jonathan.
The second bear is to bear our own burdens. Galatians 6:5. We must do our own work, according to verse four. There are works that only we can do. We are all part of the body (the church), and some functions cannot be done by other parts. There are people that you know that only you can help to be converted. We cannot pass on burdens that are meant for us to bear. No one else can do what the Lord has laid out for you. With these burdens we need to remember the promise of the Lord in verse nine. Do not be "weary in well doing: for in a due season we shall reap, if we faint not." We must prepare ourselves for death; we must worship for ourselves; we must have faith of our own; and we must bear our own burdens of responsibility.
The third bear is to bear the marks of Jesus. Galatians 6:17. This can be done in two ways. One way is to bear physical marks as Paul did. 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. The second way is to bear the resemblance of Christ. We are to be followers of Him. 1 Corinthians 4:16. The things "which we have both learned, and received and heard and seen," we must do. Paul looked like, talked like, and acted like Jesus. We must do the same. Paul bore the marks of Jesus. Some day we may be called upon to do the same.
How can I bear the burdens of others, bear my own burdens, and bear the marks of Jesus all at the same time? By keeping the great commandment that we read about in Matthew 22:37-40. We must love God with our all and love our neighbors as ourselves. Love bears all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7. If I love God, I will love His children and want to help bear their burdens. I will not want to put my burdens on others, and I will bear the marks of Jesus.
How many burdens of others have you shared? How many of your own burdens have you fulfilled? Can the marks of Jesus be found on you? Galatians 6:16 - "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." 1021 Mount Pleasant Rd. Chesapeake, VA 23322-3910.
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