June 16, Thursday

Editor’s Note:  The AMI QT Devotionals from June 13-19 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves at Symphony Church in Boston.  Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny, who recently gave birth to their first baby Tyler.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Galatians 6:1

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

16As a self-reliant person, I like to do work on my own, figure out different problems on my own, and work through various issues on my own.  I’m sure many of you are pretty similar to me in this.  Self-reliance is, to an extent, a good thing, for none of us wants to be known as needy or dependent—and there are plenty of things in life that we should work through on our own.  So when it comes to our spiritual lives, our tendency is to work out things with God on our own.

But this is not what God has in mind for us.  In this passage, Paul tells us to, “Bear one another’s burdens.”  We might think that bearing one another’s burdens is just being there for one another or supporting a friend through a hard time.  But in the original language, this word for “bear” is the same word that is used when Jesus was “bearing his own cross” (John 19:17).  Bearing one another’s burdens isn’t just encouraging someone with a few nice words—but it is delving deep into someone’s life and helping through their burdens of sin and shame.  We’re not just called to do this for others, but we ourselves have burdens that we cannot bear on our own—meaning, we need to invite others to help restore us and carry the burdens and struggles we have.

Because we are so inclined to be self-reliant, we try to carry burdens that are meant to be carried with the community.  Whether they’re sins of lust, anger, or past hurts and shames that we hold onto in our hearts, we don’t need to bear these heavy burdens on our own, as they can crush our spirits and hinder our walks with God.  The book of Galatians teaches us about freedom in Christ, and one important way that we can be free in Christ is to give up our self-reliance and bring our burdens for one another to bear.

Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 76

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Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 23:1-4: Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Questions to Consider

  1. What were the scribes and Pharisees doing right?
  2. What were the scribes and Pharisees doing wrong?
  3. Who in your life has been there to help you with your heavy burdens? Are there people whose burdens you are helping to bear right now?

Notes

  1. For all of the faults that Jesus points out regarding scribes and Pharisees, He does tell us His audience to do and observe what they were teaching and preaching. It seems that in this passage, at least, Jesus was not taking issue with their teachings.
  2. In this passage, Jesus is more concerned about how the scribes and Pharisees would teach and preach but not even lift a finger to help the people. The teachings of the scribes and Pharisees were burdens, because they were standards of holiness and righteousness that the people were to follow, but these were too difficult to follow.  These leaders only preached at the people without actually walking alongside them to help them walk in them.  On the other hand, though Jesus gave an impossible standard to follow, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48), He did much more than lift a finger—He sacrificed His whole life to help us bear that burden.
  3. Personal reflection question.

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Evening Reflection

What burdens (yours or others’) do you feel like you were bearing today?  Have you found freedom in these burdens?  Take some time to surrender your burdens to Christ, but also consider reaching out to a friend to help bear your burdens.

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