“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. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” -Galatians 6:1-5
Every now and then I run into those neck-less wonders at them gym who have no choice but to cut the sleeves off of their shirts because they don’t stand a chance under the stress of their biceps. While they’re doing their best Lou Ferrigno impression and military pressing elephants, I keep my distance, watching out of the corner of my eye, feeling slightly intimidated, envious and at times inadequate.
Odds are I’m never going to be that guy, and that’s ok. Sure, I wish I could bench press a John Deere, but the fact of the matter is it would crush me. I’m not built to handle that kind of weight whether I want to or not. If I hold myself to their standards get wrapped up in what they’re lifting, I’ll fail to take care of the workouts in my own notebook and won’t appreciate my progress in the weight room.
I’m prone to the same thing spiritually. I see some spiritual and ministerial bodybuilders around me and wonder what they’re doing that I’m not. The result is the same as in the weight room; I’ll get crushed under the weight and discouraged with my own work. I’m not built, nor am I called, to carry their load.
In the same breath of Galatians 6, Paul says you’re lying to yourself if you think you’re something, and that you should test your own work so you can boast in it rather than in your neighbor. I stared long and hard at this verse when I recently read it. Paul is telling me to boast. That seems un-Paul-like. I came to some conclusions.
When we play the comparison game, we are often cautioned against thinking too highly of ourselves. I think Paul is encouraging us in the other direction by telling us not to think less of ourselves because of what another person is doing.
I need to hear this. The competitor in me wants to be the one who’s doing more and having more impact than the next guy. Truth be told, I can question myself when I look at the fruit one person is bearing compared to mine when we are both devoting ourselves to serving the Lord. Why is he producing watermelons when I’m harvesting blueberries?
The answer, in short, is because that’s what the Lord has called me to in that moment. What’s freeing is I’m not accountable for any more than that. For me to push harder and farther into ministerial doors the Lord is not opening based on some arrogant conviction founded in my insecurities would be classified as disobedience.
Paul says each is called to bear his own load. This load here is different from the load of the heavy burdens he discusses in verse 2 of chapter 6. Those burdens of verse 2 are loads man should not carry, whereas the load in verse 5 is one we should carry. It’s the load we are called to. When we take on a load we shouldn’t, it begins to become a burden.
Celebrate the joy, freedom and satisfaction that comes with knowing the weight of your load. Until the load on your brother’s back is one he shouldn’t be carrying, be satisfied with what’s on your back.