In a world which has been completely disarranged by sin, it is inevitable that even the saintliest and the best should at times have to carry heavy burdens, and to bear grievous loads. This is true of the children of God irrespective of age, sex, or social position. However men may differ in other things, they are all one in this—that each has his own specific problem, or sorrow or cross.
These are burdens of various kinds. There are burdens of the body, such as chronic invalidism, and the limitations of old age; burdens of the mind, such as perplexity and anxiety; burdens of the soul, such as loneliness, and the consciousness of regret.
Now there are three verses in the Bible which tell us what our Heavenly Father says to His children who are carrying such loads. The first is Galatians 6:5 which says that “every man shall bear his own burden.” The second is Galatians 6:2, which exhorts us to bear one another’s burdens; and the third is Psalms 55:22 which tells us to cast our burden on the Lord. The first of these scriptures speaks of something which we must do; the second, of something which we should do; and the third, of something which we may do.
SOMETHING WHICH WE MUST DO
“Every man shall bear his own burden—Gal. 6:5.” There are, then, burdens which we cannot share; for each heart knoweth its own bitterness and has things with which a stranger dare not intermeddle—Prov. 14:10. Perhaps the most poignant and distressing of these is the consciousness of sorrow for mistakes that lie in the past; for sins committed even after we were converted to God.
In the inner room of life sits Regret with her pale face; and shame with dust on her forehead; and memory with tears in her eyes. The cross that our own hands fashion, the self-imposed burden, the self-inflicted torment—is the heaviest cross of all.
Now, if to life’s burdens there is to be added the haunting memory of past transgressions, the load will prove too heavy for us. But it is just here that our Heavenly Father comes to us with the message of deliverance, and healing, and rest. His Word makes very clear the way of deliverance, not only from the penalty of sin, but also from its devastating consequences in the heart and memory and earth life of the pardoned one.
Some sins are committed against God alone and should be confessed to Him alone—I John 1:9. Other sins may be committed against an individual privately; these should be put right with the individual privately as well as confessed to God—Matt. 5:23-24. A third class of sins may be of a public character as, for example, when a man publicly slanders another; or, as in the case of Achan, where a whole nation was affected—Joshua chapter 7. The last named offences necessitate public confession, as well as confession to God. From long experience of such problems as they affect the children of God, I would say to any burdened one: Beware of allowing the enemy of God and man to drive you into confession in public of that which should be spoken into the ear of God alone; or of confessing to a multitude that which only God and the individual should hear.
Some extremely sensitive Christians have done these things, but there is no necessity why they should be done. When the thing which has lain like a burden on the heart has been put right in accordance with the foregoing principles, then will you enter experientially into the blessedness of assurances such as these: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed thee---Isaiah 44:22.” “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us—Ps. 103:12.” “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more—Heb. 10:17.”
Foolish indeed are we if we resurrect what He has buried, or remember what He has forgotten. That does not mean that memory has, with us, ceased to function; but it does mean that the sting has been removed from the said recollections of the past, and that regarding them the mind and heart are at rest. Therefore: “Waste no tears upon the blotted record of past years, but turn the leaf and smile, oh smile to see the fair white pages that remain for thee.” We now pass to our second verse, which tells us of:
SOMETHING WE WHICH SHOULD DO
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ—Gal. 6:2.” It has been pointed out that, in the Greek, the apostle uses two different words, when he refers to the burdens that must be borne by the individual Christian, and those which can be shared with others.
In Gal. 6:5, he uses a word that describes a soldier’s kit, which the soldier alone is expected to carry. In Gal. 6:2, he uses a word which describes a series of packages, some of which may be carried by others. And so the Scripture which we are now examining speaks of a sacred and most helpful ministry which is within reach of us all. “Bear ye one another’s burdens.”
A concrete illustration of how that ministry may be exercised, and a description of the person who is fitted to exercise it, is given in Gal. 6:1: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault…restore such an one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Three questions arise in this verse:
(a) What is to be done: “If a man be overtaken in a fault…restore such an one.” The word translated “restore” is a surgical term, and is used of the re-setting of a fractured bone or dislocated limb—operations which call for the tenderest touch and most qualified skill.”
(b) Who is to do it? “Ye which are spiritual.” The physician required for this task must be truly spiritual.
(c) How is he to do it? “In the spirit of meekness,” ever bearing in mind his own liability to be similarly tempted. He comes alongside his erring brother, and with gentleness and a lowly heart, fulfills the law of Christ.
“Softly he toucheth for the reed is tender, wisely enkindles for the flame is low.”
In v. 2, Paul passes from iniquities to infirmities, from transgression to weakness. Here, in a thousand ways, we can help each other. For example: to a person who is carrying a heavy burden on mind or heart, it is often a relief to reveal it to some Christian friend; or, in some cases of extreme perplexity, to ask the counsel of some wise servant of God. It goes without saying that the person thus trusted will be absolutely loyal to the one who confides in him.
SOMETHING WHICH WE MAY DO
“Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain thee—Ps. 55:22.” The Scotch version is very expressive: “Fling ‘yer care on Him; for He alane can haud ye straight.” Carefully note that this Scripture does NOT say: “Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain it.” The promise is that He shall sustain not only it, but thee.
Henry Moorhouse, when heavily pressed on one occasion, had the meaning of these beautiful words suddenly flashed upon his soul. His daughter, who was a paralytic, was sitting in her chair as he entered the house with a package for his wife: Going up to the little lass and kissing her, he asked, ‘Where is mother?” “Mother is upstairs.” “Well, I have a package for her.” “Let me carry the package to mother.” “Why, Minnie dear, how can you carry the package; you cannot carry yourself.” With a smile on her face, Minnie said, “Oh, no, papa; but you give me the package, and I will carry the package, and you will carry me.” There is surely a great lesson for us here.
“Cast thy burden on the Lord:" What then? Will He bear it while I go free? Nay, weary would, not thus doth read the Word: “He will sustain”—not it, but thee. The burden is still thine: it is thy gift, bestowed by Him who knoweth all thy need: But now the everlasting arms shall lift and fold thee close—and thou shalt rest indeed.”
It is helpful to compare this heavenly counsel with two similar ones in the N. T.—I Pet. 5:7 and Phil. 4:6-7. These may be summarized thus: (a) What we are do: “Cast all our care upon God.” (b) How are we do it? “by prayer and supplication.” (c) Why we are to do it: “Because he careth for you.” He has you on His heart.
And the counsel is all inclusive: “Casting all your care upon Him”—heart cares, domestic cares, business cares, small cares, great cares—every conceivable kind of care. Let us always remember that there is nothing too great for His power—Jer. 32:17. Nothing too insignificant for His love—Matt. 10:30. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus!”
|JUNE-JULY 2017 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given. The above item is a sample of the numerous timely articles that are contained in the bi-monthly issues of The Fundamentalist Digest.|