It would be hard to find a better description of what life together in the local church ought to look like than Paul’s imperative in Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” This side of glory, every member of Christ’s church carries a pilgrim’s burdens. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually, we bear the heavy load that is part and parcel of a cosmos under the curse of death. And as we carry these burdens that range from sorrow over a dying family member to loneliness to frustration in the workplace to the perennial problem of our own indwelling sin — oh to have brothers and sisters who pursue this vision with compassionate zeal, who will help us shoulder the load for the journey!
Here’s what Luther had to say about it:
“This is a gentle command with a great commendation attached. “The law of Christ” is the law of love. After Christ had redeemed us, renewed us, and made us his church, he gave us no other law than that of mutual love (John 13:34). To love is not to wish one another well, but to carry one another’s burdens – that is, things that are grievous to us, and that we would not willingly bear. Therefore, Christians must have strong shoulders and mighty bones, so they can carry their brothers’ weaknesses, for Paul says that they have burdens and troubles. Love, therefore, is mild,courteous, and patient, not in receiving but in giving, for it is constrained to wink at many things and to bear them (1 Cor 13:4).
Martin Luther, Galatians. The Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998), 290.
On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am so grateful for brothers and sisters with strong shoulders and mighty bones, who carry my innumerable weaknesses with such kind forbearance.