Gal 6:4-6 “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”
In the first verses of this chapter, Paul tells us to restore our brother who has slipped. He also cautions us to take heed to ourselves lest we should also slip (v1). We are encouraged to bear one another’s burdens (help each other along-v2), and not to fall into self-righteousness (v3).
Part of the trap of self-righteousness is that it requires us to compare ourselves to others. We seldom look at ourselves as an island and think “I am doing well.” Instead we look at ourselves in comparison to those around us. We find others whose sins and shortcomings may be more apparent than our own and decide that we aren’t doing so badly.
Even though we help others (“bear ye one another’s burdens”), we must still examine (prove) our own actions. Did we help another because the law of Christ says we should or did we do it to impress men? Either way, someone else may have been helped by it. However, if we did it to impress men, we have failed at fulfilling the law of Christ. Our joy is not in doing His will, but rather in other’s reactions to our efforts. Our rejoicing requires men’s approbation instead of us finding satisfaction in the simplicity of doing what Jesus says we should do.
In reading these first six verses, we might be tempted to think that Paul is contradicting himself. He first tells us to bear each other’s burdens, and then he tells us that every man shall bear his own burden. The Greek word in verse two translated as “burdens” refers to weight (as in something that would weigh us down). The Greek word translated as “burden” in verse five refers to a task or service. While we are to share the load that would press our brother or sister down, we alone are accountable for our service to God and His children. Bearing the weight of our brethren is part of our service in fulfilling the law of Christ.
Paul says that those who are instructed (taught) in the law of Christ (the word) should share (communicate) all good things with the instructor. Some scholars see this as an instruction to support those that teach us the word of God in a monetary fashion. While that might be part of what is being said, I believe that Paul had a much deeper sharing in mind.
When we stop to consider the situation that prompted this letter, we can see that Paul had placed himself squarely in the middle of a great conflict. On the one side were those who despised Paul outright for his perceived abandonment of the system of worship he was raised up in. On the other side are those who had heard the grace of God from Paul’s lips as he was moved by the Spirit. They had rejoiced in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet they were now being pulled to support the very men that would persecute them. Additionally, at least some of them now considered Paul to be their enemy because he had told them the truth.
Paul’s admonition here is this one simple truth. If you have received instruction in the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Spirit, then love and support those whom the Spirit has chosen to deliver that instruction to you. The greatest encouragement that a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ can have is to see those that have been taught give heed to the teaching. Our greatest joy as ministers is to see our brothers and sisters moved by the instruction in God’s word in a way that compels them to fulfill the law of Christ.
Don’t be afraid to share with your pastor when the Spirit has blessed him to preach the gospel to you in a way that causes you to give God glory. It gives God glory when we examine our actions in the light of the righteousness of Jesus Christ rather than comparing them to the failings we see in others. It gives God glory when we are faithful to the service He has called each of us to render. It gives God glory when we fulfill the law of Christ.
May we gladly bear our burden of service by helping our beloved brothers and sisters bear the weight that oppresses them and so fulfill the law of our precious Savior!