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We know we should “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). As followers of Jesus–similar to how Jesus got under our load to help us when we were so desperately in need–we are invited to get under the load of others. Our love for others can be seen when we get “under it” with them, for their good, for their spiritual health.

But I do wonder. What does that look like? Practically, how are we to live that out?

Over Thanksgiving, my son and I helped serve a meal to those in need. Part of the provision was to also make available sacks of groceries to those who needed additional food. My son bore “another’s burden” when, seeing someone struggling with a grocery sack full of food, he offered to carry the sack out to the waiting car. That’s a practical way to “bear one another’s burdens.” But most of the burdens that we carry are not so physically tangible.

So again I wonder. Practically, how are we to live this call out? And I think I catch a glimpse of one way this happens in Paul’s letter to Philemon. In sending Philemon’s run-away slave (and now fellow Christian) back to him, Paul explains what he wants:

If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account. (Philemon 17–18)

This is huge . . . and practical. There is nothing superficial or hard to understand about what Paul is asking. In sending Onesimus back to Philemon, Paul invites two things from Philemon:

Treat Onesimus the way you would treat me because of the relationship that you and I have with one another.

Whatever debt or obligation you feel Onesimus owes you let me make that up to you.

Paul is getting under a load–a load that belongs to another. Onesimus has wronged Philemon. Onesimus has broken laws, violated trust. No matter how we resolve the slavery issue, at this point in time Onesimus has robbed Philemon. There is wrong done, debt owed, relationship disturbed.

And Paul says, let me handle that. Let that burden rest on me. Philemon, let me get under the load that Onesimus is carrying and I will carry it for him . . . so that your relationship with him might be restored.

That is a practical, helpful example . . . and a tremendously convicting one.

Can you think of two people in your world, your sphere of influence, who are at odds? Is there some way that you can step into that relationship, in grace, and seek to bring resolution and restoration by “getting under the load” and paying the cost, covering the loss, making good on the debt of another?

How very much like Paul! And, beyond that, how very much like Jesus!

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