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In our lifelong effort to grow toward greater maturity in Christ, we do well to pay attention to the things of fundamental importance. Prone as we are to getting lost in the details, we need to refocus frequently on principles that are close to the heart of the matter. As with any other endeavor in life, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
From Paul's words in Gal. 6:1-5, we learn that one activity of basic importance in Christ's body is the bearing of one another's burdens. According to Paul, when we bear one another's burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ. And his words on this subject remind us of Jas. 2:8, which says, "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well."
The world in which we live is a harsh one, at least at times. Sin has grossly marred the world that God made, such that pain, suffering, and difficulty are never far from any of us. As the people of the Lord whose hope is in heaven, we desperately need one another in the here and now. The Christian who says he doesn't need anybody else's help is just not facing life realistically. There is an Irish proverb which says, "It is in the shelter of each other that the people live." If that is true in the world at large, it is no less true in the church.
If this week is typical, there will be many opportunities for each of us to help a brother or a sister to bear a burden. There will be kindnesses we can show, good deeds we can do. If we are at all serious about doing the work of the Lord, we will exert ourselves to do what He Himself did. Peter preached that Jesus "went about doing good" (Ac. 10:38). Mutual burden bearing is an important part of what it's all about in Christ.
As we try to navigate our work and our many other activities this week, let's be mindful of this aspect of our discipleship. Let's pause a few times each day, lift our thoughts out of our own troubles, and ponder how we might help some fellow Christian, even if it is only by an encouraging word. The truth is, we all carry a heavy load. Let's help one another to bear our burdens well.
Monday: James 2:8
Key Idea: The "royal law" requires us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Questions for Family Growth: In practical terms, what does it mean to love our neighbors as ourselves? Who is our "neighbor"? Consider the story that Jesus told in Lk. 10:29-37. What do you think is the main point of the story?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:18.
Tuesday: Galatians 6:1-5
Key Idea: When spiritual problems come up, we ought to help one another.
Questions for Family Growth: In v.1, how should those who have erred be restored? Can any Christian afford to be unconcerned about the problems of his brethren? What do we learn from passages like 1 Cor. 12:26 and 2 Cor. 11:29?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:19.
Wednesday: Romans 15:1-3
Key Idea: The strong ought to help bear the weaknesses of the weak.
Questions for Family Growth: What does it mean that "Christ did not please himself"? What kinds of sacrifices might the strong have to make for the weak? What does it mean to "please" our neighbor, with the result that he or she is built up?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:20.
Thursday: Philippians 2:1-4
Key Idea: We ought to look out not just for our own interests but for the interests of others.
Questions for Family Growth: What does it mean that each should "count others more significant than yourselves"? How does this way of thinking and living differ from the ways that are common in the world?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:21.
Friday: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Key Idea: Love demonstrates a patient, steadfast concern for others.
Questions for Family Growth: What aspects of love are mentioned here that have to do with helping others bear their burdens? What do you think is meant by the statement in v.7 that love "bears all things"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:22.