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 too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:1-2 ESV
Included in the instruction for how we are to hold one another accountable is this directive to bear one another’s burdens. While I initially found these two directions to be unrelated, diving a little deeper shows the intentionality of connecting them.
To bear is to support and a burden is translated as a heavy load that’s difficult to carry. We are instructed to carry the burdens of the people around us; to bear those things they consider to be heavy. If someone has an injured leg and cannot walk, you put your shoulders up under their arm, and you take their weight off their leg by bearing it on your shoulders. In much the same way, we are to bear the burdens of others.
In order to fulfill the law of Christ, we must bear our spouse’s burdens. We are to help carry what weighs them down, but first, we need to understand their struggles. We can’t take their burdens if we don’t know them. So, this directive starts by listening to your spouse. It starts by appreciating and recognizing those things that weigh your spouse down. We know that burdens are different for everyone—what may be considered a heavy load for one person may not seem so heavy to another, so we listen and try to understand. We never minimize what they consider to be a heavy load. Instead, we recognize if the burden is heavy for them, they need our help to carry it.
As we come to understand their burdens, we ask our spouses how we can help carry their load and we joyfully agree to work for them—that means we would do the hard stuff with a smile on our face. When our spouse asks us to serve them, we willingly offer our help without complaint. We serve them with joy. Some of us will do the hard work, but will complain about it while doing it—this isn’t bearing their burdens. We carry one another’s burdens because we are called to love one another before ourselves, so what they need becomes more important than what we’d like to be doing instead.
While bearing one another’s burdens includes serving them with a cheerful heart, this instruction follows a verse on confronting someone with their sin, so we need to pay close attention to the meaning. It’s not just making your husband dinner when he had a difficult day, or doing the shopping for your wife because she’s overwhelmed. Paul is also referring to bearing someone else’s burden when they’re caught in a transgression in this passage.
We were created to live in community so that we hold one another accountable when we’re struggling with a sin issue—that’s what’s being referred to in this passage. We are called to help others bear up against their sin issue by holding each other accountable. So, again—this directive starts by understanding the sin issues your spouse struggles with and recognizing we all don’t battle the same transgressions. What may seem simple to avoid for some of us may be quite challenging for our spouses to bear. When we understand the temptations our spouses face, when we take the time to uncover the past experiences and strongholds that have shaped their perspective of themselves and the world, we are more equipped to help them bear the burden. We understand their triggers and we know how to help protect their hearts from the temptations that exist in their world. We protect them from the battle by preparing them for or removing opportunities for transgressions. And we bear their burdens joyfully, even when we seem to carry those burdens for a long time.
This can be challenging when the sin issue directly affects us, or has left us injured. If those wounds have not been healed through forgiveness, it is nearly impossible to approach our spouse with a spirit of gentleness. If your motive is anything other than seeing them restored in their relationship with Christ, it will be a fail. You must first right the wrongs in your own heart before you are able to address the issues in their heart. Spend time with God asking Him to clean out your heart, confess and repent of the sins He reveals to you before bearing your spouse’s burdens, but then put on your battle gear and get in the fight with them. They need you to win.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗