If you haven’t yet, I’d recommend reading this article. Today is a follow-on from that, and it’ll really help with understanding where I’m coming from today. The TL;DR version kind of reads like this, 1. In a married, Christian relationship, the wife willingly submits to her husband’s authority because he is marked as responsible for her by God. Submission is given willingly, not demanded. You can’t have authority over another without also accepting you’re responsible for them. 2. If you’re in a dating relationship, there is no obligation for married submission/authority to factor in, because you’re not married.
Which brings us to today, where I want to explore our very real need as Christian adults to be responsible for our own godliness, and how we serve and submit to each other. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.” Galatians 6:1-6 Question: What’s the difference between a burden and a load? They can’t be interchangeable things, or Paul, who wrote the letter to the Galatians, would have used the same word. I’d posit that a burden is something that cannot be maintained alone, whereas a load is an everyday thing, and should be managed freehand. Both seem to relate to sin, and to living righteously. As brothers and sisters, we’re called to help our siblings out of sin, with compassion and caution, both for the one trapped and for the one helping. However, we’re also called to manage our own everyday things, without playing the comparison game of ‘hey, I can do this better than/worse than you’. A burden would be something that any one of us would need help getting out of. Porn addiction. Substance abuse. Mental illnesses that impair our ability to function at a normal level. Serious illness. Grieving the loss of a family member. A load would be something lesser, something which all of us would have to face on a day-to-day basis. The lingering gaze or stray sexual thought. Speeding. That one extra drink. Anger that flares at a moment’s notice. Jealousy for your neighbour’s newest achievement. Bitterness at missing out on something. Any load can become a burden, if left unchecked. But, while we live in mortal bodies, we have to manage the sinful nature and renew ourselves in Jesus’ forgiveness. So, there’s a call for us to serve each other in godliness, which is consistently called out in Paul’s other letters, but there is also the call to maintain our own godliness. Carry burdens, manage loads. Help your mate out if lantana has taken over his house, but really, you should be able to spray your own bindiis. What happens if we confuse the two, with the people in our everyday lives? If some part of person A’s brain decided that their growth group leader, or their pastor - someone appointed in some kind of ministry to them - was responsible for their godliness - how they lived, thought, acted, and whether that was about following Jesus, then it places an impossible burden on them. It makes them person A’s priest, a job reserved exclusively for Jesus (Hebrews 7-8). Certainly, pastoral staff and older/more mature Christians in the church are responsible for the younger, but this is in regards to encouragement, and learning scripture. We’re all starving people looking for bread. There’s just some of us that know where to look. The pastoring or mature brother or sister cannot be the source of nourishment, but listening to their advice can help. If person A was to make their parents, their friends, or their significant other responsible for their godliness, then it’s much the same problem, but the ramifications are different. Refusing to carry the load of their own sinful-yet-being-renewed nature means that person A is refusing to take responsibility for maintaining their own faith, and instead is chucking that on the shoulders of those around them. I don’t need to do the weeding if I ask you to do it for me. The person who eschews the responsibility of their own godliness will refuse to heed rebukes, demand particular treatment, and restrict the activities of those around them, in the name of burden-carrying, regardless of whether or not the problem in question is something they need to sort out themselves. So that’s how it can manifest, but is it so bad? To ask others to do things that help with your godliness? Well, it depends. For person A, they’re asking those around them to help them with their godliness. They’re asking for help in an ‘area of weakness’. That’s not a bad thing. “Hey, I hate bringing it up, but I’m currently working through an alcohol addiction. I’ve only been sober a couple months now. Please don’t offer me a drink next time we’re at a barbecue.” But if this is continually asked or demanded, with little to no effort on the part of the asking party to make things better, then it crushes those around them, by asking for service/submission without taking responsibility for the problem. “You know I have issues with anger. Why would you plan for our growth group to do [this thing I suck at]? I’m only gonna get mad.” Which should ring bells. Sort of. The Pharisees did something similar - demanding of the people, without taking responsibility. Jesus wasn’t keen on it. “Woe to you Pharisees! For you crush people with your demands, yet you never lift a finger to ease the burden.” Luke 11:46 Burdens are meant to be shared, not carried solo. To make another carry a burden single-handedly is to crush them. I’ve been there. Wishing that you didn’t have a physical body so that the problem of having a physical body would go away is not a good time. 0/10, would not recommend.