My best friend lives 2,000 miles away, on the other side of the ocean. (But we live in Hawaii, so that’s true of a lot of our friends!) Throughout the week she and I send texts back and forth, full of emojis, scripture, encouragement, and real-life struggles. We preach truth to each other, because sometimes you need to hear the truth from someone other than yourself. She’s my most encouraging friend— always holding me up when I fall, and always reminding me of God’s truth, His promises, and His faithfulness in all circumstances. I can be gut-honest with her, and she can be the same with me.
In Galatians 6:2, Paul encourages us to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
He had just finished telling the Galatians to love each other, to put away the things of the flesh (like jealousy, envy, divisions, and hatred. Anyone been there? I sure have!) and to put on the things of the Spirit (like love and patience and kindness— you know, all things that make for a sweet friendship or relationship). Then Paul gives us this command: bear each other’s burdens.
The thing is, life is hard. Not all the time, for sure. There are so many things to give thanks for and to rejoice in, laugh at, and rest in. But there are days and seasons of life that are just flat-out difficult. Devastating. Heartbreaking. Gut-wrenching. You may feel alone and abandoned, overwhelmed and anxious, fearful, stressed, or heavy-hearted. You may feel hopeless.
But God, in His ever-gracious, all-loving, and all-knowing way, gives us each other to do life with. This life is not meant to be lived alone.
Yes, God has given us Himself, which is the greatest gift of all. He’s also given us His Word, which is chock-full of His promises and stories of His faithfulness and character. His Word empowers me, fills me with hope, and gives me strength and courage to face those hard days. He gives us prayer. I know I can cry out to God all day, every day. He is so sweet to us!
But He ALSO gives us friends. Friends who listen, who let us ugly-cry in front of them, and who help us regain perspective. Friends who remind us of truth and hope when we ourselves don’t believe. Friends who pray for us when we’re too weak and give us grace when we fail. Friends who know when we’re sad and hurting, and press in to ask us why. Friends who bring us coffee when we’re having a hard day. Friends who send us a card across the ocean just to let us know we’re loved.
Paul is telling us here to be that friend. Be that friend to your friends, to your family, to people new to your neck of the woods, to people a bit younger than you and a bit older than you. Be that friend to your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
Not only is this beautiful, but it fulfills the law of Christ. The law of Christ is not a set of rules, a list of dos and don’ts. It’s not about going to church, or reading your Bible for so many minutes a day. The law of Christ is to love others as He so abundantly loves you. Jesus gets so much delight and glory when we love those around us— when we think of them, serve them tangibly, and get on our knees to pray for them.
Friends, we have been set free to love. To give ourselves. To bear each other’s burdens.
May we do that today.
Alyssa Joy Bethke is a lover of people, adventure, sunshine, and coffee. Wife to her best friend— author, speaker, and spoken word artist Jefferson Bethke— and mom to their sweet baby girl Kinsley, Alyssa serves alongside her husband to share the message of God’s lavish grace. Alyssa is the author of Spoken For: Embracing Who You Are and Whose You Are.