uplifting thoughts and inspiration on faith
The scriptures speak of burdens from Genesis to 1 John, Old Testament to New Testament. Generally burdens are considered heavy loads to be carried or born and burdens weigh you down. The Old Testament especially enforces the heavy yoke of burdens and how they crush and overwhelm a body.
In the New Testament Epistles of Paul burdens take on a little different meaning.
Romans 15:1-3 Bearing Others’ Burdens
We who are strong [in our convictions and of robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak; [we ought to help carry the doubts and qualms of others] and not to please ourselves.
Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually].
For Christ did not please Himself [gave no thought to His own interests]; but, as it is written, The reproaches and abuses of those who reproached and abused you fell on Me.
Galatians 6:1-3 Bear and Share the Burdens
Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.
Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].
For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another’s load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself.
The Bible clearly tells us to cast our cares or burdens on the Lord and not to try and carry them ourselves.
Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.
For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.
1 Peter 5:5-7
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
So if David, the beloved of the Lord and a man after God’s own heart, tells us in the Psalms to cast our cares or burdens and Jesus himself tells us to trade our heavy yoke of burdens for His light and easy one, and Peter, a close friend and original disciple of Christ, tells us to cast our cares or burdens, then why is Paul telling us to carry each other’s burdens?
In order to understand you must first understand the meaning of the word burden and also the context in which Paul is using it.
Burden(s): that which is carried; load; that which is borne with difficulty; obligation;
Synonyms for burden(s): saddle, try, afflict, perturb, plague, grieve, vex.
- Afflict:to distress with mental or bodily pain; trouble greatly or grievously; to cause suffering or unhappiness to;
- Perturb: to disturb or disquiet greatly in mind; agitate.
- Plague:any cause of trouble, annoyance, or vexation.
- Grieve:to distress mentally;
- Vex:to irritate; annoy; provoke; trouble; distress;to disturb by motion; stir up; toss about; to anger or annoy; to confuse; worry; to agitate.
Synonyms for Vex:anger, irk, fret, harry, harass.
Related Words for vex: annoy, bother, chafe, devil, get at
The synonyms for burden(s) make a more clear presentation of the kind of burden Paul is discussing in his epistles. This coupled with the explanation in Galatians 6:4-5 that we all have faults and flaws.
But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.
For every person will have to bear (be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [little] load [of oppressive faults].
When Paul tells us to bear one another’s burdens what he means is that each of us has some faults, flaws, imperfections, habits, and ways about us that we may find justifiable or even cute or charming that others find to be annoying, distressing, or agitating. Before we go trying to change someone else or criticize their ways we need to stop and remember we aren’t always a ray of sunshine to everyone.
Jesus himself speaks about people who are ready to judge others harshly for things they don’t even practice themselves.
So observe and practice all they tell you; but do not do what they do, for they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy loads, hard to bear, and place them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not lift a finger to help bear them.They do all their works to be seen of men; for they make wide their phylacteries (small cases enclosing certain Scripture passages, worn during prayer on the left arm and forehead) and make long their fringes [worn by all male Israelites, according to the command].
One of the experts in the [Mosaic] Law answered Him, Teacher, in saying this, You reproach and outrage and affront even us! But He said, Woe to you, the lawyers, also! For you load men with oppressive burdens hard to bear, and you do not personally [even gently] touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you are rebuilding and repairing the tombs of the prophets, whom your fathers killed (destroyed).
In the gospel of Luke in the New Testament, Jesus confirms the true and perfect law:
And then a certain lawyer arose to try (test, tempt) Him, saying, Teacher, what am I to do to inherit everlasting life [that is, to partake of eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]? Jesus said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it? And he replied,
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
And Jesus said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live [enjoy active, blessed, endless life in the kingdom of God].
When we truly love God and have a deep desire to have a personal relationship with Him, to obey the leading of His Spirit, to please Him, and to represent Him to others in the best possible light then we continuously try to show the love of Christ to others.
To others we don’t particularly like.
To others we don’t particularly enjoy being around.
To others we don’t exactly agree with.
To others who are not like us.
To others who have different opinions.
To others who try, afflict, perturb, plague, grieve, vex, distress, annoy, agitate, provoke, anger, worry, irk, and bother us.
This is to carry one another’s burdens. This is the fulfillment of the perfect law of Christ. This is love.