Today, I’m finishing up reading Galatians for 30 times (stretched over 6 weeks) and I love to be reminded of the truth of Galatians 6:2,5:

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ...for each one should carry his own load” (NIV).

At first, this seems contradictory. Am I supposed to help others or let them help themselves? But it turns out that “burdens” and “load” in the Greek are different words. “Burden” is the idea of an overwhelming burden that is impossible to carry. But “load” is the word used for a soldier carrying his pack. It is a load that is possible to carry by oneself.

The challenge as we consider helping others is to ask God whether they are trying to carry an overwhelming burden and thus need help. Or a load that God wants them to carry themselves.
Determining that will help us prevent our own burnout and rescuing others (thus becoming co-dependent).

Is this easy to determine at times? No, of course not. But we can seek the Lord and follow His direction even though it seems like we are being hard hearted at times (if God wants them to carry their own load).

When I teach parenting classes, I say, “your child needs to be needy so that they will need God.” We often think we should meet all our children’s needs and protect them from all pain. We can’t do that, of course, and even if we could it wouldn’t be wise. And this principle also refers to helping other people. Sometimes they must struggle in order to turn to God.

A long time ago when Mark was 14 and flying to Florida for a golf camp with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I was concerned about him finding his connecting flight in Dallas. I just knew he would miss his flight and I’d get a call from him. As I anxiously waited by the phone about the time I knew he was in the Dallas airport, the Lord whispered in my heart, “You want him to call so that you’ll be needed.” It was as if the Lord was saying I wanted Mark to miss his flight and I adamantly rejected that. Maybe that wasn’t fully true, but God was right. I wanted to be needed. There was a part of me that wanted him to fail so that I would be needed and I had to confess and repent from my sin of selfishness.

Mark didn’t call until he arrived safely at the camp. When I asked him what happened in Dallas, he said, “my connecting flight was right across from the gate where I came in.”

God had provided and taken care of him. It was good that Mark didn’t need his mother. He took care of himself and I hope he asked God for help.

We can sinfully try to help people carry their load (which they should carry themselves) for a variety of reasons and one might be that we want to be included. We might want to be applauded, appreciated, or think we’re their only source. But then we’re preventing that person from seeking God for something He only should be helping them with. At times, a person is trying to carry an overwhelming burden and then we should help. God will be glorified. But God is also glorified when people carry their own loads.

Something to think about the next time someone asks for your help…