“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ...”
We live in a very egocentric culture today. A lot of the time our culture operates from an individualistic perspective. For example many ask these types of questions frequently: How do I see myself? Where do I fit in? What makes ME Happy? Will this change affect ME? And the truth is our culture is ruled by how “I” feel. This can spiral into a very self-indulged, selfish worldview where one throws a fit if one does not get their own way and they simply cannot be burdened by the needs of others.
Paul reminds us and the early Church that the needs and burdens of others are to be shared. This is certainly counter-cultural to what society teaches us. But even the ancient world struggled with self-importance and individuality. Do you recall the parable of the good Samaritan? There was a Priest who came by, saw the beaten and bloody man and walked on the other side of the road. Then there was a Levite who did the same thing. Both were too consumed with their own needs and busy schedules to stop and tend to this injured man (who was of their culture and race). Finally the Samaritan man passed by, saw this man’s needs and tended to them.
It would be easy to say that we would respond like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ story, but is that really true sometimes? When we have deadlines to meet, appointments to keep, miles of road to drive to get to those “responsibilities” – would we stop what we were doing to lend a helping hand? How important are the burdens of those around us? Can we even see past the issues that we face in order to see the needs of others? It is far easier to put our noses back into our busyness, say “Oh I’m way too busy”, and never look around us. It is far easier to think “I’ll just let someone else take care of that person’s needs”…but what if God holds us accountable for those moments that we never cared or simply passed that responsibility onto “someone else”? Would that change how we look at others? What if God placed those burdens of others in our path so that we could help, but we didn’t lift a finger…could we really be called Christ-followers then? “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink…” Matthew 25:42.
Jesus even prayed for His disciples that they would be one – united in effort and mission.
I believe the message is so much stronger when we share each other’s burdens and stand united together in love. So today, here’s a challenge for you: do one thing that makes you go out of your way for someone in need. It might be something small like buying someone a cup of coffee, or helping a person load their groceries into their car, or offer a meal to someone who appears in need of food. Don’t judge or second guess their intentions, just give.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to see others today. Despite my busy schedule, I am called to be your hands and feet – show me what that looks like. Forgive me when I have been the Priest or the Levite and walked passed someone in need. Help me to serve with and not to seek out my own self-importance. Lead me Lord today in this. -Amen.