Unloading groceries at the Hammons house is like a military operation. Kylie carries in the bags with cereal, bread, light bulbs—you know, lightweight and bulky items. Taylor typically carries produce, eggs, and other items that are relatively light but may require a bit more delicate handling. Tracie is more likely to carry household cleaners, meat, candy, and anything else that might be dangerous, make a big mess, or not survive the trip to the kitchen without pilferage. I try not to carry any of that so I can focus on the heavy stuff—soda bottles, milk, laundry detergent, etc.—not because I’m indifferent to the other items, but because the ladies of the house will try to carry one of those bags at a time, and I’m determined to empty the trunk in one trip even if it kills me.
Different burdens are distributed in different ways. If everyone does his or her job properly, the operation runs smoothly. If Kylie insists on unloading my Pepsi Max, the wheels of progress grind to a near halt. And my chances of taking an unexpected shower when I open a bottle go way, way up.
God thought of this principle long before I did. He knows life on this earth is full of burdens for His people, and He wants to make our walk as simple and uncomplicated as possible. So He distributes the load.
First, there is the personal burden of sin. God knows that the burden of sin is beyond the ability of any person to bear. Therefore He places it on Jesus; “He Himself bore our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). This burden must be passed. It is not possible for us to carry it, and it is arrogance and folly for us to try.
Then there is the burden of responsibility. Ultimately the burden for our sins is our own. We must carry our own load (Galatians 6:5). This burden must be borne. Ezekiel 18:20 could not be more straightforward on the issue— ”The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” Certainly there are factors in our lives that nudge us either away from God or toward Him. But ultimately, our choice is our own, as are the consequences.
Finally, there is the burden of care. Some of this is common to all mankind to one degree or another—pain, disease, disappointment, loss, etc. Some is created or exacerbated by our choices; choices for sin can bring on sin’s consequences, and choices for righteousness can bring on retaliation from the forces of the devil. This burden can and should be shared. Brethren are encouraged by Paul, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). It is our privilege to involve ourselves in the lives of loved ones, especially partakers in our common faith. Even more so, God Himself says He will carry part of the load. David writes, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation” (Psalm 68:19).
As always, God’s plan works every time. As usual, some think they know better.
Some want to share the burden of sin. These are the ones who see salvation as a reward given for meritorious service rather than the “free gift of God” (Romans 6:23), given as an extension of His love and mercy. Of course, when asked they will agree that salvation is God’s effort first and foremost—at least, they will mouth the words. But they have a tough time putting it into practice. Either they insist that someone “must be saved” because of their good deeds, or they themselves “must be lost” because of their bad ones. Either way, humanity is given far too heavy a load.
Some want to pass the burden of responsibility. The “blame game” is never lacking for willing players. But we cannot push this burden onto God (“I’m only human!”), Satan (“The devil made me do it!”), society (“Everybody’s doing it!”), family (“That’s just the way I was raised!”) or any other party. It is ours and ours alone.
Some want to bear the burden of care. Perhaps they do not want to be in anyone else’s debt. Perhaps they do not want others to expect the same sort of caring response in return. Or perhaps they just like feeling sorry for themselves. Whatever the cause, some people refuse to accept the emotional support that is available through brethren and through the Lord. They wind up choosing to feel miserable instead of choosing to feel loved.
We have a choice. We can accept the burden allotment God has designated, and find peace, contentment and hope. Or we can stubbornly, willfully assign the burden as we like, and struggle every step of the way. Not much of a choice, I’d say.
Editor’s Note: Brother Hammons will be holding our March meeting, scheduled for the 3rd through the 8th. If anyone would like to write brother Hammons to let him know how much we are looking forward to his meeting, his contact information is:
5305 English Oak Drive
Milton, FL 32571