Carry One Anothers Burdens

August 9, 2008 Galatians 6:1-5


Dealing with sin in the lives of fellow believers is one of the most difficult tasks God has given Christians. It is much easier to carry out the other “one another” injunctions.

  • Discuss the other “one another” topics from previous weeks and how they might be easier than what we are talking about today.
  • I imagine that many might have thought that we would not be discussing this topic in connection with “carrying one another’s burdens.” But it is important to look at the context of verse 2.

Read Galatians 6:1-5

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load.

These verses are talking about restoring a sinning brother or sister in Christ.

John MacArthur describes this passage as “Pick him up (6:1); Hold him up (6:2-5); and Build him up. (6:6)”

A True Test of Love

  • For other Christians
  • Am I willing to love others by confronting them, even at the risk of losing them?
  • For God
  • Am I willing to obey God’s Word and Commands in this area, in spite of how uncomfortable it makes me feel?

Paul gives some specific guidelines for carrying out this process of restoration

  1. Restoration is a task for spiritual Christians
    Generally speaking there are two types of people described in the New Testament: Christians and non-Christians. But there are also two classes of Christians: “spiritual” and “worldly” – or “unspiritual.”
    Spiritual Christians are those who live by the Spirit, or keep in step with the Spirit. They are living in light of Galatians 5:22-23.

INPUT – How would you describe a worldly Christian?

  • Saved, but…
  • Indulging in the acts of the sinful nature
  • They act like an unbeliever.

This described the Corinthians.

  • Paul knew they were saved.
  • He addressed them as sanctified in Christ Jesus(1 Cor. 1:2a)
  • And as believers who had also been called to be holy (1 Cor. 1:2b)
  • He saw evidences of grace in their lives. (1 Cor. 1:4-7)
  • He also saw their lack of spiritual growth

Read 1Cor. 3:1-3

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

Spiritual Christians have a definite responsibility to help worldly Christians – especially those who are “caught in a sin.”


  1. Restoration is to be done with genuine humility
    Paul says to we are to restore him gently. (v1)

He is talking about meekness and humility.

INPUT – Why would we need to be reminded to be meek and humble when we are going to confront / restore a brother?

Verse 3 adds to this thought

3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 

John MacArthur says this about Galatians 3

At first glance that statement seems somewhat out of place. But in light of the call for spiritual believers to restore sinning brothers “in a spirit of gentleness” (v.1), the need for such a warning becomes apparent. One of the chief reasons many Christians do not bother to help fellow Christians is that they feel superior to sinners and wrongly consider themselves to be spiritually something when the truth is they are really nothing. Like the Pharisees, their concern is not for the true righteousness that God gives and that comes only through humility (see Matt. 5:3–8) but for their own self-righteousness, which has no part in God’s kingdom or its work (v.20). Their desire is not to help a stumbling brother but to judge and condemn him. At best, they leave him to “stew in his own juice,” thinking, if not saying, “He got himself into this mess; let him get himself out.

MacArthur, John: Galatians. Chicago : Moody Press, 1996, c1987, S. 181

We all need to remember that we are ALL objects of God’s grace.

Think about what our life would be like were in not for the grace of God.

Paul also addressed this in Titus 3:2-5a

3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

He is exhorting Titus to remind the Christians at Crete to approach everyone with a true sense of understanding, meekness, and humility.

  • The same thing he is saying here to the Galatians.

Paul also says that…

  1. restoration must be done cautiously
    Galatians 6:1 warns us to watch ourselves, or we may also be tempted.

We can never take sin lightly, or overestimate our ability to handle temptation.

The lusts of the flesh are very deceptive – and very attractive.

This is why you should have more than one person involved in the confrontation process.

You can probably think of people who in trying to help another believer trapped in sin, have become ensnared in the same trap.


  1. restoration must be done prayerfully

James adds an important dimension in the process involved in bearing the sin burdens of other Christians.

James 5:13-16

13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Prayer is an important part of the confrontation and restoration process.

Please note that James is not saying that all illness is due to sin. In v.15 he says “..If he has sinned..”

Additionally, God does not promise to heal all believers when we have physical and psychological illness. However, He does honor obedience and faith.

One thing is certain. If we confess our sins, the blood of Jesus Christ continues to cleanse us from all sin. (1 John 1:9)

There is an answer for sin: Confession and Repentance; leading to restoration.

Practical Steps for Applying this Principle Today

Step 1

Always evaluate your own life before trying to help another Christian who is trapped in sin.

Are you among those who are spiritual? If someone were to ask you to rate your level of spirituality, what would you say? What evidence could you give to support your answer? How are you living out Galatians 5:22-23?

Could you someone else out of the trap of sin and safely handle temptation?

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:4

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

Step 2

Always evaluate another Christian’s lifestyle from a truly biblical perspective.

We cannot evaluate from our own opinions or perceptions. Unfortunately, some Christians are experts at making up “extra-biblical” lists to help them evaluate sins. This can quickly lead to judging others (c.f. Rom. 14:13), which is sin itself.

A good place to start is in Galatians, right before this passage on carrying one another’s burdens.

Galatians 5:19-21

19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Step 3

Always follow biblical procedures when confronting Christians trapped in sin.

Matthew 18:15-17

15“If your brother sins against you go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ b17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

John MacArthur’s commentary on this passage:

18:15 The prescription for church discipline in vv. 15–17 must be read in light of the parable of the lost sheep in vv. 12–14. The goal of this process is restoration. If successful, “you have gained your brother.” Step 1 is to “tell him his fault” privately.

18:16 if he will not hear.I.e., if he remains impenitent, follow step 2: “take with you one or two more,” to fulfill the principle of Deut. 19:15.

18:17 tell it to the church.If he still refuses to repent, step 3 requires that the matter be reported to the whole assembly (v. 17)—so that all may lovingly pursue the sinning brother’s reconciliation. But failing that, step 4 means that the offender must be excommunicated, regarded by the church as “a heathen and a tax collector” (see note on 5:46). The idea is not merely to punish the offender, or to shun him completely, but to remove him as a detrimental influence from the fellowship of the church, and henceforth to regard him as an evangelistic prospect rather than as a brother. Ultimately, the sin for which he is excommunicated is a hard-hearted impenitence.

MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Mt 18:15

The goal of the entire process is restoration.

I’m not a big fan of the word “Excommunicated.” While I do believe we are to remove the person from fellowship, I think that word makes it sound like we are to have any contact. MacArthur does a good job explaining the evangelical aspect of the end of the process.

As we close I do want to address the difference between carrying one another’s burdens in v2 and each must carry his own load in v5.

Let’s look at what MacArthur has to say about each verse:

V.2 Christians are continually (present tense) to bear one another’s burdens. Bear has the thought of carrying with endurance, and burdens is from baros, which refers to heavy loads that are difficult to lift and carry. Used metaphorically, as here, it represents any difficulty or problem a person has trouble coping with. In this context the reference suggests burdens that tempt a sinning believer to fall back into the trespass from which he has just been delivered. A persistent, oppressing temptation is one of the heaviest burdens a Christian can have.

MacArthur, John: Galatians. Chicago : Moody Press, 1996, c1987, S. 180

Paul’s command for each one to bear his own load seems to contradict what he has just said about bearing one another’s burdens (v.2). But he uses a different term here. Phortion (load) refers to anything that is carried, and has no connotation of difficulty. It was often used of the general obligations of life that a person is responsible to bear on his own.

For a Christian, load can refer to “his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad,” for which he will give account “before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 3:12–15). His load can also refer to fulfilling his personal calling and ministry for the Lord. Jesus assures His followers that the “load” [phortion] of service He gives them “is light” (Matt. 11:30). In either case, every believer is accountable to bear his own load, even the light one Christ gives him, and to answer for his faithfulness in so doing when he faces Him.

MacArthur, John: Galatians. Chicago : Moody Press, 1996, c1987, S. 181

It is interesting to note the contrast in the words. In verse 2 the burden is referencing something that would be too big, or at least very difficult to carry on their own.

Verse 5 the word is talking about something that is typically carried, without difficulty.

Let’s leave today with a renewed and refreshed commitment for carrying one another’s burdens and seeking to restore a brother or sister trapped in sin.