This week, we get to learn from Riverwood's esteemed (and bearded) Worship Gathering Director, Jake Epley.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, ESV)
"Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." (Colossians 3:13, NLT)
In our One Another series, we’ve been exploring ways in which we can live out our identity in Christ within the body of Christ. Today, let’s dig into another vital aspect of our relationships as God’s people: Bearing one another's burdens.
For me and my wife, Grace, becoming new parents in the last few months has been a bit like riding a rollercoaster: often exciting with new surprises around every winding corner, yet feeling exhausted from being hung upside-down for just one second too long at break-neck speeds. Having a cute kiddo that depends on you for everything is WORK (I know, understatement of the year). But parenthood has also reshaped our dynamic as husband and wife. Where we once had time and energy to pour into each other, we now find ourselves pouring into our new daughter, needing to support and come alongside each other even more.
Oddly enough, if Grace and I don't bear each other's burdens, we are more likely to get cranky, hangry, and get on each other's nerves. But when we do, we've found our temporary stresses relieved, our momentary lapses in good judgment forgiven, and our relationship healed.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, encourages Jesus-followers to shoulder each other's burdens. As a community of faith, we are called to support and uplift one another, especially during times of difficulty, hardship, and sorrow. When we willingly come alongside our brothers and sisters, we exemplify the love and compassion of Christ, showing the world that we are His followers.
Bearing one another's burdens involves more than merely offering a sympathetic ear or a comforting word. It requires getting boots on the ground, actively participating and being willing to walk beside someone in their struggle, no matter the cost. It means extending practical help, offering prayer, and providing emotional support to those who are overwhelmed by the weight of their circumstances. Just as Jesus went to the cross—in our place, bearing our burden of sin—we must avail ourselves to do likewise.
Additionally, Paul's letter to the Colossians reminds us that as we bear each other's burdens, we need to make allowances for each other's faults. This does not mean to dismiss or deny sin, but rather to recognize that we are all imperfect and messy people, often prone to mistakes and shortcomings.
However, as broken people who have and are still experiencing the life-mending power of Christ, we are likewise called to extend grace and forgiveness to one another, just as the Lord has forgiven us. Let us remember that forgiveness is not simply a one-and-done act, but a continual choice to release the burden of resentment and bitterness.
When we bear one another's burdens and give each other grace, we image Christ to one another, creating a space for authenticity, vulnerability, and healing within our church family. In doing so, we build bridges of trust and demonstrate the gospel, the transformative power of God's love working through us. Through these generous acts of compassion and forgiveness, we "fulfill the law of Christ" and reflect His character in the midst of the unbelieving world around us.
In the upcoming days, let us intentionally seek out opportunities to support, uplift, and encourage our fellow saints in the Lord. Together, we can bear each other's burdens, bring healing, and grow in our walk with God. I want to encourage you to reflect on the following questions:
1) Is there someone in my life, within our church family, who is currently carrying a heavy burden? How can I come alongside them and offer support?
2) Are there any unresolved conflicts or offenses that hinder my relationships with others? Take a moment to seek forgiveness and extend forgiveness where needed.
3) How can we cultivate a culture of compassion and grace within our spheres of influence, both inside and outside the church?
As we commit ourselves to bear one another's burdens and extend grace, let us remember that our actions have a profound impact on the unity and testimony of our church. May our love for one another be a genuinely tangible expression of God's love, drawing others into His redemptive embrace.
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