GIVING | JUL 13, 2021

8 Ways to Bear One Another’s Burdens

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Tim Pell

The world is built from lovingkindess.

What is commonly translated as “lovingkindness will be built up forever” (Psalm 89:2) can also be—and is perhaps better—translated from the Hebrew as “the world is built from lovingkindness”. What a rich, vast and beautiful thought!

Dallas Willard wrote in his book, The Divine Conspiracy, that instead of random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty we believers ought to “practice routinely purposeful acts of kindness and deeply intelligent acts of beauty.” In other words, where a random kindness might bring a smile, purposeful kindness can change the world.

If God’s creation is built on the foundation of lovingkindness (chesed)—and creation realizes its potential when it is filled with it—one of the great purposes of the Christian life is to help fill the world with that fundamental element. So how do we do that, and to whom?

Bear one another’s burdens

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, this whole idea is made practical. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).

At the heart of Paul’s instruction is the hope that the people of God, who love God, will demonstrate lovingkindness as they seek to restore wholeness to the lives of their brothers and sisters. Though Paul is talking specifically about how people in the redeemed community should treat each other, the underlying principle holds true for how we treat just about anyone.

Here are a few practical ways in which you can show lovingkindness and bear the burdens of life for all the people around you.

Practice lovingkindness for your family:

Nourish their hearts, souls, minds, and bodies. For those of us with a spouse and/or child(ren), it is essential that we continually feed and cultivate healthy, positive growth in each other. Keeping out the bad “foods” and letting into our homes only what brings life is the first gift of lovingkindness we can give to those in our care.

Protect them. In order for anyone—or anything—to grow, they must be kept safe. We’re vulnerable when we’re growing, and we must have a safe place in which to do it. We provide that for each other by keeping watch over the physical and spiritual boundaries of our homes.

Practice lovingkindness for the body of Messiah:

Bring physical wholeness. Many hands make light work, they say. Likewise, when someone in our faith communities needs help moving or healing or mowing or lifting—and everything in between—we should be willing volunteers to assist in putting things in their right place.

Bring financial wholeness. Life happens. Jobs are lost. Bills need paid. But as long as we can nourish and protect our own households first, looking to ease the burden of the households of our church families is a prime way to “fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Restore each other in a spirit of gentleness. As in Galatians 6, it’s best to create faith communities that are environments in which it’s safe to heal and to learn from our mistakes. Sit with your friend and listen. Mourn and rejoice with them. Speak truth into their lives. Because we love each other, any correction we give will be gentler and more meaningful than the unloving correction the world gives.

Practice lovingkindness for a stranger (another image-bearer of God):

Connect with strangers as human beings. Life is a struggle, no matter who you are. We can lighten the load of just about anyone with something as simple as a smile. Pay attention to the people around you, discerning what it is they might need to hear from God through you. Pay a compliment to the person who needs it. Call the check-out associate by name, and have a genuine conversation with them. (“How are you feeling today, Jason?”)

Keep your word. One of the best ways to ease someone’s burdens is to not add to them! Doing what we say we’ll do for a coworker or neighbor or stranger means another burden won’t be added to their pile. It also communicates to them that they are worthy of our respect and gives them dignity in the midst of their struggle.

Stay in the giving flow. Whether by donating anonymously, paying for someone else’s coffee, or visiting the elderly, continue to give light to our fellow man. Don’t wait to be inspired before you give—give and you will be inspired. The Dead Sea is “dead” because water flows in but never out. Don’t be like the Dead Sea. Stay in the giving flow. “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).

When a law student asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” in Luke 10, Jesus responded by telling him how he should bea good neighbor by showing lovingkindness. In other words, don’t ask about what’s in it for you—be the neighbor.

When we focus on being the neighbors through intentional acts of lovingkindness (chesed), burdens are lighter and the time spent under their weight is shorter. We enter into a kind of infinite loop of lovingkindness between God, ourselves and others. And when we do that, the world becomes as it was meant to be. TP

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