Speaking to the Soul – February 13

Share each other’s burdens
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Galatians 6:2-3

We live in a society that appears to be far more interested in rights than responsibilities. That is not to say that rights are unimportant, because they are clearly crucial. The right to free speech, health, safety, care and justice are fundamental to society. However, none of them will ever happen unless we are all willing to take responsibility. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks powerfully put it: “Without responsibility, rights are a cheque on an empty account.” Here Paul describes the church as a community of people, each of whom needs to take responsibility for carrying each other’s burdens. He had no thought of the church as being there for us to gain inspiration and support so that we can live independent lives.

Sharing other people’s burdens isn’t something that happens quickly. It is a tragedy that for so many people the experience of church is confined to attending worship services. Good as it is to worship with other people, such occasions are rarely an opportunity to get to know people well, let alone learn what their burdens are. Having refreshments and meals alongside worship can start to open up opportunities to get to know others, but it is normally only in small groups or one to one conversations that such deep sharing takes place. I am delighted to hear that some people are using these daily devotional thoughts as a basis for meeting with a small group of people. As they meet together it gives an opportunity to share the joys and struggles of life and give real support to one another.

Paul identifies one reason we might not want to help someone else: thinking we are too important. But there’s another, possibly more common reason: because we feel we are too unimportant and assume we could never be of help to the other person. The truth is that we all need to be willing to listen, learn and stretch out a hand to help.

In what ways are you able to bear other people’s burdens?
Loving God, thank you for those people who have been so willing to support me. Help me always to be willing to stretch out a hand to help others. Amen