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Fulfilled in Love

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” In what ways are Christians called to bear one another’s burdens? How does this fulfill the law of Christ? What connections do you see between this verse and your outlook and work as a future teacher or minister? 

“…And so fulfil the law of Christ.” What a lofty calling to us as children of God! As pilgrims in this valley of tears, we all bear weighty burdens of the soul, heart, and mind. God calls us in Galatians 6:2 to fulfill Christ’s law of love by bearing one another’s burdens; this calling is also the duty of a Christian schoolteacher. 

The law of Christ is summarized with one word: love. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37–40, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Again, in John 15:12 our Lord states, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” First Corinthians 13, the great chapter on love, instructs us that though we have all knowledge and all faith, and though we give everything for others, but lack charity, we are nothing (vv. 2–3). 

How are we to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow pilgrims on the pathway to heaven? We are to bear one another’s burdens, which are both physical and immaterial. Our weightiest burden is that of our own sins and sinful nature. Though Christ has paid the debt we owe to God, we still battle against our old man of sin. The wear and tear of this daily warfare, along with our continual failure to love God and our neighbor as we should, ought to weigh us down. We bear the painful consequences of our own sins and of sins committed against us. Additionally, we are often pressed down by the sorrows and troubles of life in this fallen world. Strife, physical infirmities, and death all around us can leave us weak and tottering. But in all this, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Ps. 103:13–14). Knowing our weak human frame, our heavenly Father graces us not only with his own strength for support, but he also gives us fellow pilgrims to aid us on our journey to glory. 

The burden that is the focus of Galatians 6 is sin. When a child of God is walking in sin, God may remove their assurance of salvation and comfort for a time. David writes vividly of his guilty agony in Psalm 32: “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (vv. 3–4). In such a case, not only does the individual bear the awful burden of the consequences of his sin, but the sin is also a burden on his fellow saints.1 

We bear this burden of sin by humbly restoring the erring brother and seeking his spiritual good. In his commentary on Galatians 6:2, John Calvin writes, “He enjoins us to bear the burdens. We must not indulge or overlook the sins by which our brethren are pressed down, but relieve them, – which can only be done by mild and friendly correction… as the apostle had immediately before exhorted us to restore a brother, the manner in which Christians are required to bear one another’s burdens cannot be mistaken.”2 When the brother, by the grace of God, receives correction with a repentant heart, we respond in kindness as the apostle Paul charges us: “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). 

Our loving burden-bearing also implies that we bear patiently with our brothers and sisters, letting love cover a “multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). Included in that covering is a determination not to hold grudges against those who have sinned against us. Though our sinful nature would require vengeance for wrongs committed against us, we must respond with loving humility and forgiveness. In all our dealings with fellow saints, humility is imperative. Humility is essential to love. Where no humility is, love dies. Again, from 1 Corinthians 13, “Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (vv. 4–5). 

While Galatians 6:2 focuses on bearing the burdens of one another’s sins, there are many other burdens we must also bear for one another. Along with the spiritual burdens that we carry, we pilgrims may be weighed down emotionally, mentally, or physically. When our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing trials, whether they seem to us big or small, it is our calling to assist them in any way we are able. In 2 Corinthians 1:3–4, the apostle Paul says that God comforts us in “all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” When God leads us through trials, we gain the tools and experience that help us assist and comfort fellow believers in their trials.  

Burden bearing for others often includes prayer. It is appropriate to pray for needy saints in our personal devotions, but we should not shy away from praying with a hurting person about his or her specific needs. Most importantly, in bearing one another’s burdens, we point each other to Jesus, who has “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4) and calls us to come unto him for rest (Matt. 11:28). Isaiah 35:3–4 instructs us, “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.” 

We also bear one another’s burdens by simple acts of service in day-to-day life. We may claim to be ready to do big things for our fellow saints. Perhaps we like to think that we would even give up our lives for them, but so often we are unwilling to serve them in little ways. Even actions that may go unnoticed are important. A friendly “good morning,” joyful hospitality to others, stepping aside to let someone else have their way, stepping up to help with household chores, listening carefully to others before we speak, taking the time to talk to someone who is often alone, babysitting for a busy mother, and general giving of ourselves for others—these all show our love for our neighbor and willingness to help them carry the burdens they bear. It is our calling to serve “to the edification of the brethren, according to the talents God has given [us].”3 

How can any actions of ours fulfill Christ’s law of love? Christ himself perfectly obeyed this law of love on our behalf. Our living in love toward one another is a glorious manifestation of his gracious work in and through us as he accomplishes the salvation of his church.4 By his grace alone we live in loving humility, serving one another. 

This bearing of one another’s burdens is essential to the labors of a Christian schoolteacher, one of whom I aspire to be. A teacher’s calling is not only to help her students learn the subject matter, but to care for, serve, and love each student as an individual, especially regarding his or her spiritual growth and welfare. 

One of my high school teachers has a framed wooden plaque of Romans 12:10–11 in his classroom. Those verses read as follows: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” At the beginning of the school year, he pointed out how these verses sum up our calling as students in school. These verses also highlight key aspects of the calling of a Christian teacher. In essence, these verses, along with the rest of Romans 12, summarize how we are to bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ: in love, in humility, in service. 

While the teenage years are a joyful time of growth, Christian youth bear many burdens. They face many important decisions and momentous changes as they mature. These include gaining more responsibilities, making decisions concerning their future careers, and making confession of their faith. On every side the world pressures them, seeking to draw them away. Some do fall into sins that bring much grief to themselves and to their fellow saints. Others sustain the pain of troubled home lives or broken families. Many more are weighed down by difficult relationships or loneliness. I feel called to become a high school teacher especially because I desire to walk with my younger brothers and sisters in Christ through these exciting and difficult years. I want to be a help and support to them, not only as their teacher, but as their fellow saint. I pray that I may be used by God to train up the coming generation to walk in God’s ways, to encourage them to keep God as the center of their lives, and—difficult as it may be—to reprove them when they walk in sin. I aspire, by God’s grace, to bear their burdens in love and point them to our Savior for strength in every trial, joy in every sorrow, and protection in every temptation. 

May our heavenly Father grant us the grace to walk in love and put on humility as becomes the servants of God, bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ. May our teachers also bear the burdens of their students, leading them always to Christ. “Blest be the Lord Who daily our heavy burden bears, the God of our salvation Who for His people cares…Thou strengthenest Thy people; unending praise be Thine.”5 

 

Leah is in the education program at Colorado Christian University. She is a member of Loveland Protestant Reformed Church.