The Burden of Relationships
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
6 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. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
Which two commandments fulfill the whole law? Love God, love neighbor. That’s all we need to do! What does it mean to love? It means that we act in the best interests of another person. This is a worthy goal for all relationships. How do we act in the best interests of God? We fit the purposes for His created design in our lives. We follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and apply that to all of our life’s situations.
How do we act in the best interests of other people? This passage states this in terms of burdens. Are relationships a burden? They are when they don’t go well. And what is it that makes them not go well? It’s either you, me or you and me. So here Paul applies the principles of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit to our relationships.
Let’s explore this issue by thinking about what burdens we carry personally. What does Paul mean in verses 2 and 5 by the terms burden and load?
Burden= a weight. Anything pressing on you physically.
Load= something carried. Matt 11, my burden is light. Term is always used metaphorically in Scripture except once as it applies to the freight carried in a ship.
- What is a Personal Burden?
- What makes life hard for you?
Every person is different. We were raised differently, we have different desire, insecurities, fears, goals etc. We have different talents, are different in intelligence, start at different places relative to income. Some are physically stronger than others etc. None of our positives create hardships so far.
But, when seen in comparison to what others are or have, we begin to be challenged!
Cain and Abel: The first really thought out sin! Accompanied by a warning from God!
Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
Sin desires to master you. It crouches at your door waiting to pounce on you. You must rule over it. Cain does not. Able is killed. Cain’s relationship with his parents, and his culture is forever changed. And it is only the pure grace of God that keeps him from being destroyed!
The question to be asked is: Why are you angry? What is the source of the disappointment?
- Jealousy, Envy and Competition
Keep in step with the Spirit! Don’t…
The last verses of chapter 5: Let us not become conceited, provoking one another envying one another!
Conceited: having or showing an excessively high opinion of oneself. (Blessed are the poor in spirit!)
Provoking: Getting a rise of anger, competition, retaliation out of another person. Annoying. Don’t make it harder for people to be around you than you need to!
Envy: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage
If we live our lives comparing ourselves to others, then we are headed down the pathway of a burdened life. Life is not fair. If we try to make it fair, we will destroy the freedoms of others. There is no way to make it fair.
We are made to compete with others from a young age. Competition drives innovation, excellence etc. Is there another way?
Remind yourself of the fruit of the flesh again in chapter 5. It doesn’t matter how we are raised, what we are proud of or what we think is good, what does the Scripture say?
enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,
You cannot walk in these attitudes and the kingdom of God at the same time. This is not the way that God is!
Think about how destructive these attitudes are within family? (Cain and Abel) The more closely attached the group, the worse the impact of this is! And we are naturally drawn to this in relationships.
What is the better way?
- Celebrate the abilities and successes of others.
- Thank God for the way that He has made you.
- Believe that God can and will use you the way that you are!
- When provoked either from within or without, do not stop being thankful and celebrating God’s goodness. Everything is a lie to get you to believe that God is not good!
Why can’t I eat from that tree? It looks good? I am able to get the fruit. There is no clear understandable reason! God is not fair.
Why is his sacrifice ok and mine not? It cost me something. It is a real sacrifice. Look at his life, he is sinful and broken just like me!
- Look away from others
- Stop comparing yourself with others
6:1 This will cause you to be caught in a transgression. And this is the easiest thing ever.
And, since we typically rise to the level of our abilities, and we typically will never be the best, how will we ever be safe? How will we be at peace? When will we be able to celebrate the good gifts of God in ourselves? In others?
So, be aware of your burdens, and then…
- Strive to Bear the Burdens of Others
- Spiritual burdens are behind other burdens
What do we need to know in order to have life?
What do we need to believe in order to have life?
How can we help others when they are struggling with weaknesses?
How can we become confident in our relationship with God and our purpose on the earth?
- Do not take others’ troubles personally
Imagine Jesus looking at the conflict that He had with the religious leaders of His day and seeing that as His fault!
I relate to this because of the nature of my personality. I hate conflict. But there are worse things than conflict. Death is worse. Suffering is worse. Sin is worse. Lies are worse etc.
- Seek wisdom to help people where they struggle
In Galatia there are folks mired in legalism because of fear. Fear is a very powerful motivator. What is the cure for fear?
- We must first know the love of God. Perfect love casts out fear. Will God be patient with us? God will be patient with you. You don’t have to be perfect today, or any day for that matter. Does God require us to be perfect? God does not require you to be perfect. He will use you while you are in process. He has a pathway for you today even if you are struggling. The struggle is a part of the process and is making you a minister of grace for others!
- We must know the truth about our sin. Where our attitudes and actions twisted? What am I attached to that is not of God? Where does my conflict come from? And what causes fear, anger, hatred etc. to rise up in me?
- Pray, remind others, love patiently, carry their weaknesses without rejection or calling them good. Help folks struggle.
III. Every Person Must Carry Their Burden
You are the person that you are. But, you have a pathway to life that lies in front of you! You can move in the power of the Holy Spirit following Jesus Christ!!!
- Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly
All of these can be hard. There are excuses for not being just. There are excuses to not be merciful. There are excuses for not walking humbly with God and dealing with the difficulties that are with us. Those excuses are evidences of our burden. You have it. You must carry it. Each one must carry their own load: Do justly. Bear one another’s burdens: Love mercy.
- How do you think of yourself?
v.3-4 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
There is a ditch on both sides of the road! The truth is that you are loved by God, extremely valuable to Him. Valued enough for Him to send Jesus to die.
You are also fearfully and wonderfully made. You bear both the image of God and the real possibility to live that out! God does not make junk!
But, you are also marred by sin. You are prone to living a twisted perverted existence that does not reflect God’s character and love. We have to be careful and we have work to do to move toward Christ. Satan is just trying to get you to quit or not try. If you don’t quit or try and continue to ask seek and knock, you will find the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. We spend a lot of time and energy beating ourselves up, when we could just spend that on working out change.
- Manage your relationships intentionally
- Think of how you can be helpful to others. Serve, love, give. Teach, encourage, correct.
- Set a solid example of not only good behavior, but of willing repentance. We don’t need to see success all the time, but how to climb out of the ruts of our lives!
- Do not attribute ill will to others! Manage your jealousy.
- Celebrate the successes of others.
Please apply this to politics!