There are three kinds of burdens:
1. BURDENS YOU SHOULD WILLINGLY PICK UP
There are certain burdens you should not try to escape. These are the burdens of a brother or sister in Christ, somebody out of fellowship who needs to be restored. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
The Bible tells stories of people who have gotten back to God. Jonah ran from the Lord, yet came back and was used to bring an entire city, Nineveh, to repentance. (Read Jonah 1-4.)
Simon Peter was the one who said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16b). Yet he cursed and denied Jesus later. (Read Mark 14:66-72.) But God made Peter a rock again, and he became the great Apostle of Pentecost. (Read Acts 2.)
A young man named John Mark started out with Paul and Silas on a missionary journey, but got discouraged and went home. (Read Acts 12:25, 15:37-38.) Paul lost confidence in him. But God used a man named Barnabas to help restore John Mark, and later on, he wrote the Gospel of Mark.
David—the man after God’s own heart—committed a horrible sin. But he prayed, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (Read Psalm 51.), and God did.
What Restoration Should Not Look Like
Friends who have fallen do not need lectures. They do not need to be ignored. And they do not need to be reported—but sometimes our prayer sessions are nothing but gossip sessions.
“If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26a). When brothers or sisters fail, it is your business. They are in the body of Christ. Do you condemn them? You are condemning yourself.
“You who are spiritual restore such a one.” (See Galatians 6:1.) If you say, “This is not my gift,” you are saying, “I’m not spiritual.” A person who loves God will have all the qualifications to “restore such a one.”
What Restoration Should Look Like
Restore literally means “putting back in place that which is broken or torn.” Here is how you restore someone:
(See Galatians 6:1.) You cannot restore somebody if you are harsh and overbearing. Restore your neighbor (and your children!) with tenderness, rather than by screaming and criticizing.
“…Considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1b). There are three persons in your seat: the person you are, the holy person you could be in God, and the wicked person you could be if you take your eyes off Christ. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
“Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2a). The most miserable man on Earth is a saved man who is out of fellowship with God. David did not say, “Restore me to salvation,” but, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (Psalm 51:12a; emphasis added).
What are the burdens of the Christian who has failed?
- A broken relationship with Almighty God. “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4a).
- A guilty conscience. “For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah” (Psalm 32:4)
- An accusation from Satan. Before sin, the devil says, “You can get away with it!” After sin, the devil says, “You will never get away with it. You call yourself a Christian! There is no way back for you, you’d be better off dead.”
- Public shame. These people say, “I don’t dare show my face at church.” Let them know, “You are loved and welcomed. Come home!”
Why We Must Restore Brothers and Sisters
To fulfill the law of Christ. (See Galatians 6:2.) What is the law of Christ? “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14). Only a spiritual person can do that, for “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5b).
To restore fellowship. God has put us together to be a network. When Jesus called His disciples, they were mending nets. “Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matthew 4:19). A broken brother or sister is a hole in the net. The greatest testimony for Jesus—and the greatest testimony against Jesus—is the life of a Christian.
2. BURDENS YOU SHOULD FAITHFULLY STAY UNDER
Is that contradictory? No, it is complementary.
In the original language, the first word here for burden (v.2) means a heavy load—like being out of fellowship with God. When somebody has a load like that, we are to lift that burden from him.
But the second time (v.5), it is a different word altogether. It has the idea of a soldier’s knapsack—something the soldier must carry and must not delegate to anybody else. God wants us to live disciplined lives, so God lays burdens upon us and expects us to bear them. Nobody can repent for you. Nobody can trust Christ for you. Nobody can love God for you.
3. BURDENS YOU CAN GLADLY LAY DOWN
“Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). Who wrote that? King David, who had his burden lifted when he was restored to God. But he had other burdens. When he wrote this, he was aged.
Burdens come to the high as well as to the low, to saints as well as sinners, to the old as well as the young. Do you have a broken heart? Has a child ripped your heart out? Has your spouse forsaken you? Is a physical malady gnawing away at your body? Is a problem perplexing you? Cast these burdens upon the Lord.
It may be that God has given you that burden to bring you to Him.
Will God receive you? Oh, yes! If you have never known the Lord, can you be saved? Oh, yes, you can! Come to Jesus.
Ask God to lay on your heart a brother or sister who is broken and needs to be mended. If you have a special burden, roll it onto the Lord. He may not lift it, He may not solve the problem, but “He shall sustain you.” (See Psalm 55:22.)