Man, it’s been a crummy week.
Lots of traveling, lots of stuff with the kiddos, friends…life. It has been a good reminder of the fact that even when things start to feel upside-down, there’s still something we can do for each other in the hard seasons.
Years ago, when people rallied around me during my pregnancy with Audrey, I realized that one of the most amazing gifts I received was the love of people who only knew me through the common bond of Christ, and those women offered a part of themselves for me. Many of you emailed me letting me know that you had specifically asked the Lord to allow you to carry a part of my burden. Wow.
I’m sitting in a Starbucks writing this, and I’m tempted to burst into tears because I remember that time so well. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord honored your requests, and as a result my burden was lighter. To this day I have an image of the way He may have distributed that hurt to those who were willing, and the most beautiful part of it all is that He received all the glory for your faithfulness.
In my quiet time today, the Lord led me to a few scriptures and as always, a little bit of deeper study led to insight that blessed me beyond measure. Sometimes when you’re reading the Bible, you see things that seem contradictory. As I read Galatians 6:2 today, it seemed pretty clear that this “sharing of burdens” was important. It says:
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Okay. Got it.
But then, right below it in Gal 6:5, it says this:
“For each one of you should carry his own load.”
Interesting. So what gives?
Before I say anything else, let me say this. The Bible is not supposed to be intimidating. It’s not supposed to make you afraid to dig further down, or to seem like an academic, far-away, untouchable instruction manual. It’s a love story, and you are a part of it.
If you see commentaries on the Bible, or anything fancy that talks about the Greek or Hebrew words, or anything like that, just know this: God never intended the Bible to feel “over your head.” He wants you to invest youself and take the time to understand things, but He never wants you to be intimidated by the Word. Rather, He wants you to be empowered.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Galatians. And why does it say that we are to share burdens and then say that we are all supposed to carry our own loads? Which is it?
Here’s what I discovered.
In verse 2, the Greek word used for “burdens” is “baros.”
Don’t wander off because I said Greek!!! Come on back! Just think of it this way. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek. So when you say “the Greek word,” you are really just saying, “in the original language.”
Okay? You back. Good.
And how in the world did I ever figure out the Greek word?
Because I speak it fluently. As well as Hebrew, French, and at least three African dialects.
Well, either that or I have access to the Google.
Sooooo, baros. Hello new friend.
Baros means “heaviness, weight, burden, trouble.”
Now onto verse 5. Using the same methods, I find (in about 2 seconds) that the word used in this passage for “load” is different. This word (in Greek…hello fancypants) is “phortion.” It lists the word “burden” in it’s definition, but upon reading a little you will see that it is different than the one mentioned earlier. Innnnnnteresting.
Here’s what I found:
The word “photon” does not connote any weight; it is simply to indicate that something is being carried. It’s the same word used in the passage that says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:30). It’s what we are called to carry, and essentially it means that we are going to stand before God one day and have to give an account for our lives, and that is not something that someone else can carry for us. (via W.E. Vine)
Greek and Hebrew aren’t scary, but that is. Because it’s the kind of conviction that motivates us to seek Him and make our lives a beautiful offering.
The former (baros) is the weight of this world-the pain that comes from living in a fallen world with fallen people. And it connotes weight. I know, because I feel that weight every day and so do you. There is a major difference between the two, and while we can’t shoulder the burden of someone’s life choices in light of eternity, we can shoulder the burden put on our friends here on earth. And I really believe that it’s more than a suggestion.
Isn’t that cool? I know this isn’t really a “pretty” post, but the purpose is to get you motivated to dig into your Bibles, and also to ask for you to pick up some weight for some sisters in Christ.
I love that this is a safe community where we can bring our burdens and allow the Lord to distribute them. Feel free to use the comment section as an altar and lay down anything we can pray about, even if it isn’t detailed.
We will be honored to share the load.
With so much love,