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Knowing When to Help

A word from God's Word, the Bible: "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…. For every man shall bear his own burden."1

Sometimes the Bible seems to contradict itself. Today's scripture is a prime example where it says, "Bear one another's burdens … for every man must bear his own burden."

Actually, the explanation is simple. In the original language, the first burden represents a burden such as a heavy rock or a weight that one person cannot carry alone because it is far too heavy.

The second burden represents one that each one must carry for himself because it is like a knapsack, one that each individual is quite able to carry.

When we carry another person's knapsack for him, we are being codependent and contributing to the over-dependent's not wanting to take responsibility for himself. This  makes us a part of his sickness.

Then there are those people who want God to carry their knapsack. No such luck. God isn't codependent. God will help us where we can't help ourselves. That's why He sent His Son, Jesus, who willingly gave His life to save us from the consequences of our sin. But God will not do for us what we can and need to do for ourselves.

And then some people expect those who are carrying a heavy rock burden to just give it to Jesus! This can be a cop-out because we don't want to help bear another's burdens. It's so much easier for us if they will just take it to the cross and give it to Jesus!

A dear friend just lost a loved one. The grief was tearing her heart to shreds. Could you imagine how insensitive I would have been had I said, "Just take it to Jesus." Yes, she needs to take it to Jesus but she also needs to take it to safe, understanding friends who will perhaps say nothing, but just sit and cry with her, hug her and hold her hand—and be "as Jesus" to her.

We are to weep with those who weep, comfort the sorrowing, hold the hand of a fallen friend and help him/her to his/her feet again. We are to bear one another's burdens when they have been given a "large rock" to carry. And we are to get out of the way of rescuing those who don't want to carry their own "knapsack" burden.

This is one vital way how we fulfill the law of Christ. We serve God by serving people.

Suggested prayer: "Thank you God that you bore my burden of sin when Jesus went to the cross for me. Please help me to be responsible and bear my own 'knapsack' but always be available to help those whose 'rock burden' is far too heavy for them to carry alone. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Galatians 6:2, 5 (NIV).


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.