I have to admit that when I first read this passage I thought that this was a really strange reason for me to bear a brother’s burden. My first thought was that this passage would make better sense if it were to read, “Bear one another’s burden because it isn’t right that a brother should have to bear his burden alone.” Yet Paul says that the reason for bearing another’s burden is because “each one shall bear his own load.” It was a bit confusing at first, but after carefully considering the context I have come to agree with Paul. It’s not strange. In fact, it’s beautiful and wonderful.
What’s the burden that Paul is speaking about? It’s the burden of temptation. It is the burden of being “overtaken in a trespass.” So, the truth that Paul is sharing is this: “Bear one another’s burden because you all have temptations for which you’re eventually and equally going to need love and grace. So while you’re busy examining and judging your brother’s failures it might be good to stop and consider your own faults. You might have a burden of temptation that will cause you to need love and grace from your brother. Oh, your burden most likely isn’t the same one that your brother carries. You may be strong where he is weak. But don’t think too much of yourself or your strength because most likely there’s a place where he’s strong and you are weak. When you stand before the Judgement Seat and your brother’s books are opened, don’t forget that you too will have books that will be opened on that day. There are sins in the secret parts of your hear that demand pardon. You have expressions that require expiation, actions that await atonement, desires that call out to be purified. So, today remember this: bear your brother’s burden and your brother will bear yours.”
I must fulfill this royal law of my Lord. It is a law that stands before Moses’ law. Moses simply told me not to hurt my brother, but here I am told that I must bear my brother’s burden. It’s not enough that I don’t cause him harm. I must come along side of and help him. How can I do that? How can I help him bear his burdens, deal with his temptations? By being aware of my own. How then can I be aware of my own temptations? Only by standing in the light of the Son, for in the light and radiance of His sinless, searching purity I will see the blemishes and imperfections – sins – that stain my own soul. As I stand before the Perfect Man I will see my imperfections. I will learn of my darkness as I stand in His unabated sunshine. The knowledge of my darkness will be my first true light. When I have felt the weight of my own burdens I will lift the burdens of my brother; and as I lift the burdens of my brother the weight that I have been carrying will surely fall away.