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What Does it Really Mean to 'Bear One Another's Burdens'?

bear one anothers burdens

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)

If you’re like me, you’ve experienced some burdens in your life. They can come in all shapes and sizes. Big, small, bearable, even unbearable...or at least that’s how they feel. Yet within the pages of Scripture we see instructions calling for us to bear one another’s burdens. Why does Jesus ask us to bear burdens? That is the question on the table for today and I think you may like the answer.

What Does it Mean to Bear a Burden?

The word to bear comes from the Greek word bastazo which means to carry, to take up or even to take away or carry off.

The word burden comes from the Greek word baros which means a weight.

When you put those together, to bear a burden means to take away or carry off the weight someone else is experiencing. In essence, you are bringing some form or relief and comfort to someone else’s challenging situation.

For example, let’s say someone lost their job and they are facing the weight of having to buy groceries to feed their family. Bearing their burden may mean buying groceries for the family so they can have food to eat in the house.

By doing this you have carried off their weight for that moment in time.

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man listening to sad friend bearing one another's burdens

Why Jesus Asks Us to Bear Burdens

If you are wondering why Jesus asks us to bear burdens, then consider the second part of Galatians 6:2, “and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Let’s go back to two statements Jesus said about the law.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. – Matthew 22:37-40

When you consider this statement, you understand why Jesus would ask us to bear burdens. By doing so you are showing the love of God by loving your neighbor as yourself. 

If you were facing a burden would you want help? If you are honest (and not prideful) the answer is yes. Also, if you knew of someone who was facing a burden and you were in a position to help, would you? Hopefully, the answer is yes. 

In both of these instances, the law is being fulfilled because you are either being loved or loving your neighbor as you would yourself. When you do this, you are actually being Christ’s hands and arms extended. 

3 Practical Areas in Which to Bear One Another’s Burdens

Because burdens come in all shapes and sizes there are literally an unlimited amount of ways to bear burdens. I am going to give you some ideas, but I’m sure you can come up with more.

1. Financial Burdens

- Start a food coop to pool resources together.

- If you belong to a membership retailer share some of the groceries with a neighbor.

- Go to a local food pantry on behalf of someone else, pick up the groceries and deliver them.

- Create a directory of all the available places and resources people can use to get assistance because many times people don’t know what options are available.

- If you can afford it, pay someone’s utility bill for a month.

2. Spiritual Burdens

- If someone is struggling with a besetting sin be willing to be their accountability partner.

Start a Bible study group to help people study the Bible—there are plenty of devotionals to help you if you are not sure if you are “qualified” enough.

Be willing to pray for and with people.

- Call someone and let them share their heart with you and just listen.

3. Family Burdens

- Offer to watch the kids so a husband and wife can have a date night.

- Schedule a weekly walk with a friend just to give them a space of rest and someone to talk to.

These are just a few ideas but there are plenty more. The idea is just simply looking for ways to help alleviate the weight people are experiencing. Sometimes you may not be able to take off the whole weight; so do what you can, because every little bit helps.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Lorenzo Antonucc

bible open to beginning of the book of deuteronomy

Bearing Burdens Was an Old Testament Truth

Bearing burdens is a familiar theme in Scripture. In fact, this was a command in the law.

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need... Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. – Deuteronomy 15:7-8, Deuteronomy 15:10

Simply put, if your brother or sister is in need you help them. If they are carrying a weight, you find a way to help lift it off them. You don’t leave them hanging or stranded. By the way, this doesn’t mean you have to always be the one lifting the weight. Sometimes you can simply be the person connecting them to those who can lift the weight for them.

The truth of life is that one day you may be the person giving help, but one day you may be the person needing help. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that life can change in a heartbeat.

Let’s always be willing to bear each other’s burdens.

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diverse group holding hands in prayer unity

Bearing Burdens Was a New Testament Reality

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. – Acts 2:44-45

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. – Acts 4:32-35

As you can see the bearing of burdens was a key attribute of the early church, motivated by God’s grace powerfully working in their hearts. They looked out for each other. Within these verses, notice some key points:

  • The believers were together, they were one in heart and mind (unity)
  • They had everything in common (community)
  • They sold property and gave to everyone who had need (generosity)
  • There were no needy persons among them (family)

I believe this is a demonstration of what Jesus means by asking us to bear the burdens of one another. Simply making sure that the needs of those around you are met.

I find it amazing that in the early church there were no needy persons among them. It doesn’t mean the people didn’t have needs; it means that their needs were always met. I think you will agree we have a long way to go on this front.

We truly need a fresh outpouring of God’s grace.

Photo Credit: ©Sparrowstock

Cross with white fabric at sunset

Jesus, the Ultimate Burden Bearer

There is one burden, however, that Jesus bore for us that we could never bear ourselves—the burden of our sin. Jesus, therefore, is our ultimate burden bearer. He not only bore the burden of our sin he took the weight of everything that comes with the burden of sin. Consider this verse:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

When you think of why Jesus asks us to bear burdens it’s because we are following his example. Granted, you can’t bear the sin burden, but by his example, you can bear many of the weights people are experiencing. We are called to be one body—when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt. Bearing each other’s burdens is not always easy and sometimes may require a little sacrifice. However, it’s a sacrifice that God honors.

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. -Hebrews 13:16

Prayer

Lord, help me to see the needs of others knowing that by carrying their burdens we are fulfilling the law of Christ. Give me a heart of compassion that leaves no one behind and recognizes that we are all one in the body of Christ. Let it all be done by the power of your grace working in me and through me.

In Jesus' name. Amen.

May God give us the grace we need to be the people he has called us to be.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/mbolina


Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.


This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

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