Our dear friends recently moved and Gary and I stopped over to their new place just as they were rearranging some furniture. Great timing, depending on how you look at it. We were happy to help. And besides, we knew the #1 rule when moving heavy things: use your legs.

So bending our knees, all four of us each picked up a corner of a heavy table and together we placed it in the perfect spot. Then we, the fearless foursome, tackled our next project- a very heavy, large rug that was rolled up in the middle of the living room. I got on the farthest end from our group to guide the rug. We counted to three, and they picked up the rug using their legs and slid it in my direction. Their push was more than I could handle, and the rug slid into a lovely, expensive vase on the floor. The vase shattered. And yes, this ended our brief stint as professional movers.

We have all encountered heavy things that we can’t lift on our own. Burdens of personal pain, grief, trauma, brokenness, the burdens of spiritual failure, and temptation. These kinds of burdens are heavier than any antique table or rug we’ll ever lift. Why would we ever think we could carry them alone?

It’s these overwhelmingly heavy burdens Paul refers to in Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” And that law he’s referring to is love. Jesus commands us to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). So, one way we show that we love one another is to carry each other’s burdens.

It’s HOW we love that I want us to consider together. We can’t just “use our legs” and muster up enough brute force to help someone to get something heavy lifted and think we’ve fulfilled the law of Christ.

Lord forgive me for the times I’ve reduced love to a checklist:

  1. I show up.
  2. I do some nice things.
  3. I feel great about myself.

God hasn’t called us to ACT like we love one another by doing impressive things, but rather to BE love. Becoming like Jesus is to become people of LOVE.

Sometimes, well-intentioned church folks like us can get this confused. We think it’s our job to carry others’ burdens by making sure they know just how out of step they are with God, and we shame them with our help and our “love.” Real love doesn’t do that.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

If these are the defining characteristics of Jesus’ love, then I have to ask myself, what does my “love” look like?

Paul writes in Galatians 6:1, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” The word “restore” in the Greek means literally to set a broken bone. It’s done with gentleness and great care and only the spiritually mature can handle it. This is how we carry each other’s burdens-even if that burden is a consequence of their sin. Like our attempt to lift that heavy rug, if you use too much force, things can shatter.

Galatians 6: 3-5 says “If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”

We need to check that WE are in step with the Spirit and doing our heavy lifting with love. We don’t look down on who we’re helping or judge them because their struggle isn’t our own. Dallas Willard describes love as “the genuine inner-readiness and longing to secure the good of others.” It may not turn out the way WE want, but Jesus’ love isn’t based on outcomes. People are not our projects or trophies- they are God’s BELOVED. Our best offering is to show up like Jesus and let Him do His work through us.

It’s His love that heals, forgives, restores… So show up, and use your LOVE, not your legs.

If you are looking for a place to share your burdens and connect with other women, please consider joining us each Wednesday at noon for God’s Girls.

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