“Each one should carry their own load”.
Gal 6:5 NIV
The apostle Paul was an inveterate traveller. Driven by the empowering on the part of the Holy Spirit he moved from place to place sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and shepherding those who became Christians into groups and churches for fellowship, instruction and upbuilding in the Christian faith. In the process his own faith enlarged, he grew in grace, wisdom and authority, and he learnt a lot about people. He was an apostle, a missionary, a teacher, a theologian and a pastor. Along with everything else he had a towering intellect and shaped the thinking and teaching of the church. Not just for the first century in the missionary church, but for all time. To the Christians in Galatia (modern day Turkey) he said, “Each one should carry his own load”. It sounds like a contradiction of what he had said a couple of sentences earlier, “Carry each other’s burdens”.
But they are different – in fact two different Greek words. The burdens we are to share are the heavy loads which are too big for one person to manage – grief, trouble, anguish. But the load we each have to shoulder alone is the normal pack that is carried on a person’s back – his pack of small belongings. “There is one burden we cannot share – indeed do not need to because it is a pack light enough for every man to carry himself (sic), and that is our responsibility to God on the day of judgment. On that day you cannot carry my pack and I cannot carry yours. ‘Each man will have to bear his own load’” (J. Stott, The Message to the Galatians, p 160).
Lord, make me ready and happy to carry my load on that day.