“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ … for each one should carry their own load.” (Gal 6:2&5)
My brother and I are scrappers: we drive those pickup trucks you see piled high with radiators, washing machines, and bags of aluminum cans. His truck is bigger than mine, but mine’s got a better suspension. We have very different ideas of the “proper” way to load a junk truck. We often complain about each other’s techniques.
“You can’t put that way up there!” I say. “Your’re making your truck top heavy.”
“So what?” he replies. “I’ll drive slow. Look at your mess: that load’s gonna fall off for sure.”
“Lemme help you with that,” I say. I climb on top of his truck, tug at a box of rusty hardware, and a stove falls off the back.
“And what are you doing with this?” he says. He tugs at a copper downspout that I “found”, and half my junk spills into the street.
“Well, your truck is overloaded. Mine can handle more,” so I shift a pile of hubcaps from his truck to mine.
We always end up fighting.
The word “load” in Galatians 6:5 means “load of freight, like what a ship can carry.” It’s the amount of cargo the hold is designed to contain. We are instructed to carry our own load, not shift it off onto the next guy or take over someone else’s freight.
The word “burden” in Galatians 6:2 means “burden,” or, “that which you carry in excess of your designed load.”
When I perceive a friend to be in distress, I am very quick to step up and offer to share the burden. I am very slow to recognize that sometimes my friend is just carrying their own load: any number of factors that I cannot perceive may be contributing to the appearance of struggling with an overburden. He may be depressed, or annoyed, or just tired.
I suspect that most often, I just like to think my friends are overburdened because then I can be the hero who sweeps in to pull the heavy radiator out from the bottom of the pile of junk. Sometimes I annoy my friends more than I help them.
It takes some discernment to tell when my neighbor’s truck is truly overburdened, and whether the burden is appropriate for my own suspension or not. Am I helping or just meddling?
When I blunder in and make a mess, I can only ask forgiveness, and hope that I will be more sensitive next time.