The Ministry of Burdens: Part Three

August 17, 2010

When we bear with one another by allowing those we are in relationship with the freedom to be who they are in Christ, we are admittedly taking a risk. This brings us to another aspect of bearing one another’s burdens: to bear the sin of another, which is often an abuse of their freedom.

This is quite difficult because the abuse of our freedom (rather the inappropriate, broken or fallen expression of the image of God in us) results in broken fellowship with God, and often each other as well.

Notice the inevitability of sin within the community of faith:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted (Galatians 6:1).

Jesus also speaks of the “when”, not “if”, nature of sin in the community in the Gospel of Luke.

Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come (Luke 17:1)!

When others either fail to meet our expectations, it often creates disappointment expressed by relational distance. We may run to judge their moral failure, blast their hypocrisy, and heap shame upon their already guilty conscience. And we often never say a word about it; and we don’t have to. Our disapproval is expressed by our distance.  This is a way of showing contempt for our brother. When we do this, we are failing to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing our brother or sister’s burden.

To cherish no contempt for the sinner, but rather to prize the privilege of bearing him means not to have give him up as lost, to be able to accept him, preserve fellowship with him through forgiveness (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together).

There is great risk here because our fellow Christ-follower may well stumble into sin once again. This should grieve us, and the grief should compel us to seek to restore our brother or sister in gentleness. Our desire should be to see them reconciled first to God, and then to his or her fellow man, because reconciliation is at the heart of Christ’s gospel.

Who have you given up on because they have sinned? Who has disappointed you, and rather than seeking to restore them, you have given them up as lost? We do not have the right to cast aside those whom Christ has claimed for Himself.

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One Response to “The Ministry of Burdens: Part Three”


  1. […] We must bear the sin of another, which is often the abuse of their freedom. […]


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